Looking after animals in cars
It’s very important to look after animals in cars. Not only will it keep them safe and allow you a stress-free journey, it’s actually part of the law. If you’re travelling with your pet, you need to make sure they’re secure and don’t distract you as you drive.
Why do animals in cars need to be restrained?
There are lots of incredibly important reasons animals in cars need to be properly secured:
- For safety – keeping pets restrained keeps you, your passengers and your pets safe and offers extra protection if you get into an accident.
- It’s the law – it’s actually in the Highway Code. Drivers must ‘make sure dogs and other animals are suitably restrained’ in the vehicle, else they could be considered to be driving without due care. This could result in a steep fine if you’re caught.
- For your insurance – lots of insurance companies require you to properly restrain your pet. If they’re not secure and you get into an accident, your vehicle insurance and pet insurance could be invalid, leaving you to pay the bills.
- To prevent accidents – making sure animals in cars are properly secured will help prevent you from getting distracted and causing a road accident.
Securing animals in cars
You’ve got lots of options when it comes to protecting your animal passengers.
For dogs, the simplest solution is one you use every time you get in your car: a seatbelt. You can get your pooch a harness that simply attaches to your car’s seatbelt to keep your four-legged friend safe.
You could also make use of crates and carriers in your luggage space. Keeping your pet inside a crate is perfect for limiting the distraction they can cause to you while you drive and will prevent them from being thrown around the vehicle if you crash or are forced to break sharply. These are ideal for smaller animals and confident dogs that are likely to fidget as you drive.
Seatbelts and crates are by far the most popular choices for securing pets during travel. However, you might also want to look into things like back seat hammocks, boot guards and seat barriers give larger dogs space to move but prevent them from distracting you in the front of the vehicle.
Travel tips for driving with animals
Taking your pet on a trip with you can be very exciting, but your pet could find the experience more than a little scary. To help make the trip more pleasant for your dog or other furry friend, we’ve pulled together some travel tips:
- Start small – take short journeys that begin and end at home to build up good associations for your pet.
- Keep it cool – pets can’t regulate temperature in the same way as we do, so make sure your vehicle is well ventilated and you might even want to invest in window shades.
- Feed at least 3 hours before the trip – you don’t want any little accidents on the back seat!
- Don’t give treats while travelling – eating while moving could cause your pet to choke.
- Plan your stops – leave time to stop on long journeys to let your dog drink, go to the toilet and burn off some energy.
- Get them used to the harness or crate at home – let them use the crate indoors, and put them in the harness while you're hanging out at home to help them get used to them.
- No heads out the window – we know dogs like to feel the breeze, but they could jump out, knock their head, or distract other drivers.
- Train your dog to wait before jumping out – if they bound out in a busy area or on a main road if you’ve broken down, they could get lost or hurt.
- Never leave them unattended in warm weather – it takes only a few minutes for heat stroke to set in, which could be fatal to your pet.
You wouldn’t drive without protecting yourself with your seatbelt, so don’t risk your pet. Make sure they’re properly secured every time they’re in the car with you, no matter how short the journey. Keep yourself, you passengers and other road users safe by securing your pet.
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