With the arrival of summer, we once again find ourselves wanting to take holidays and spend time travelling to make the most of it. As our dogs can be such a big part of our lives, it's natural that many of us also choose to bring our faithful pets with us when we do go travelling, and so at this time of year, many more people will bring their dogs with them whilst on car journeys or holidays.
After careful consideration, we at Pet Food Plus More have written this article with the answers to some of the key questions that we get asked on this topic, so as to help those who may need help figuring out what they need to know before travelling with a pet, as well as knowing important facts, such as whether a dog really does need to be secured when travelling in a car with you. Please read below - even if you think you might know all of the tips you'd need, it can always be good to get a refresher!
Do I need to secure my dog when it's in a vehicle?
In short, yes. A few years ago, the Department for Transport added rule 57 to the highway code, which states the following:
"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."
This rule summarises why properly securing a dog when traveling with one is vital. Not only does having an unsecured dog, no matter how well-behaved, put yourself and your dog in extra danger in the event of an accident, but the unsecured animal can be classed as a distraction, which could lead to you being considered as liable for accidents on the road, both by the police and by insurance companies. In addition, it can be worth noting that in the event of an accident, your dog may escape onto the road and end up in even greater danger!
In this regard, it is always best to keep all pets properly secured at all times. As outlined above, there are multiple types of restraints available for dogs, including seatbelts, harnesses, carriers, cages, and guard barriers. Each method has it's own different benefits - seatbelts and harnesses are cheap and reliable, and are the least restrictive to the dog, which may make them less uncomfortable or less prone to anxiety while traveling. Carriers for smaller dogs, as well as cages and dog guards, may be more protective, but will be more expensive and restrictive.
Preparations to Consider
In addition to considering how to secure your dog, there will be other preparations that you will need to make for your pet before you begin your travels with them. In particular, it is important to factor them in when you first begin planning your trip.
The first thing that you will have to bear in mind, particularly if you are traveling to another country, is that you will want to ensure that the dog has been properly protected for potential dangers in the place that will be your destination. This is important not just for their own health, but because it is often a legal requirement before the dogs are allowed to travel on some modes of transport, or to cross most national borders! It is very often a good idea, if not a requirement, to ensure that your dog has been treated for fleas, ticks, and worms, has received any necessary vaccinations, and has been microchipped. Because the requirements for bringing a dog abroad is different between different countries, it is a very good idea to do the necessary research into this before planning your trip. It may also be a good idea, particularly if staying at the travel destination for a considerable amount of time, to ensure that the dog is also treated again for fleas and worms before your return trip - even within the UK, different areas can have different species of fleas, worms, and other parasites, and you will likely not want to bring these back home with you!
Secondly, you should consider all of the different accommodations you will be staying at during your trip and whether these will also be suitable for your pet. Whether it's just an inn that you will be staying in over-night while traveling to your destination, or the main accommodation for your holiday, you will need to be sure ahead of time that these places will either allow your pet to stay with you in your room or have an attached kennel. Alongside this, be sure to find out what the pet policy is for your accommodation, as there are often requirements for your dog to meet once you arrive, including a certain standard of cleanliness, having been treated for fleas and worms, and having been properly vaccinated.
Lastly, you may want to consider any possible changes to the pet's health before you begin your travel. You will of course want to ensure that your dog is healthy before you set off, but sometimes the dog's condition will drop during travel, as the dog could become carsick or anxious, especially on long journeys. It's also important the the dog is kept well-hydrated and properly fed during the journey to maintain good health. For these reasons, it's important to keep an eye on your dog throughout the journey, and to pre-arrange the solutions to any problems that you may encounter. For example, travel bowls and bottles can be a great way to keep a dog fed and hydrated, and calming sprays or wipes can be a good way to combat travel-induced anxiety.
Advice for Car Long Journeys
Long car journeys can be very stressful for dogs, especially if they are unable to have their needs met while on that journey. In the wrong conditions, a long car journey can even present danger to a dog. Because of this, it is important to ensure that the dog is cared for throughout the journey. Below is a set of short bullet points on the best ways that you can look after your dog during your travels.
- Make sure the dog is kept at a comfortable temperature throughout the journey, with air conditioning/heaters, blankets, e.c.t.
- Never leave your dog(s) alone in the car by themselves, especially in warm weather.
- Feed the dog a small meal roughly half an hour before leaving. If you feed the dog too soon before leaving you may make the dog feel ill if it suffers from motion sickness.
- Always keep fresh water available through use of travel bowls and bottles.
- Whenever taking a driving break, offer the dog food, water, and an opportunity to go for a walk outside and relieve themselves as necessary.
And so brings the end of this article on pet travel advice. We hope that you found some of the information here helpful! If there are any questions you have that you feel were not answered in this article, please feel free to contact us by clicking here, where you can speak to a member of staff for any other advice you may feel that you need. In addition, if you are interested in any of the types of product mentioned in this article, feel free to visit one of our stores, where our helpful staff can show you what we have to offer.
Hoping to see you all in-store again sometime soon.
All the best,
Henry Jackson, Head of IT for Pet Food Plus More.