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Travelling with your dog

As we enter spring and begin to plan our summer holidays and days out, now is the time to start considering how you are going to travel with your pet.  There have been recent changes to the legislation regarding travelling with animals, so we thought we’d provide you with our top tips for a safe journey.

The Highway Code now states that:

‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.  A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.’

Preparation

Before you leave, check that you have the following essentials:

  • Emergency supplies – it’s a good idea to pack a first aid for your pet with a few essentials to help you in unforeseen circumstances.  Diarrhoea treatment, antihistamines, antiseptic wash, shampoo, extra flea/worm treatment are all examples of what you could pack. 

  • Food/ water bowls – dogs can easily overheat in cars, especially on warm days so make sure that you offer water and if you’re going on a long journey, you may need to stop regularly.

  • Lead/ collar – although microchipping of dogs is now mandatory, remember it is also a legal requirement for them to have an identification tag attached to their collar (including you surname, house number, postcode, phone number).

  • Poo bags – again poop scooping is a must and failure to do so may cost you a fine of up to £1000.

  • Blankets/ bedding – to ensure your pet is comfortable and warm.

  • A secure method of restraint - such as a crate or harness.

Restraint Techniques

Whilst your dog may love riding along with their head out of the windows and ears flapping in the wind, the reality is it may prove very dangerous.  Unrestrained animals can hurt themselves or other people should an accident occur, or they may even be the cause of the accident.  Here are the most common and effective ways to restrain your animal:

Why  do I always have to sit in the middle?

  • Dog guard – can be used to separate the boot from the main area of the car, although the animal is still able to slide around.

  • Seat belt harness – if your dog is going to be sat on a seat.  This device is similar to a normal harness but has an extra strap to attach it to the car seatbelt.

  • Pet carrier – ideal for small dogs, but should be fastened either with a seatbelt or placed in the foot well.

  • Dog cage – available in different sizes.  Crates should be big enough to allow the dog to stand up but not slide around and should be structurally sound, well-ventilated and securely fastened in the boot.