An important aspect of pet ownership is the ability to keep them safe. This can be making sure your home is a safe place for them to be, as well as ensuring they are equally as safe when out on a walk or in public. Either way, it is your responsibility as owner to ensure a cat or dog does not get in harm’s way.
One scenario where an owner must keep their pet safe is on a car journey, as standard safety precautions such as a seatbelt aren’t always ideal for use on a cat or dog. There are legal requirements for a driver to restrain their pet, but there is also the safety of the animal to consider, as they are likely to be hurt in an accident if roaming freely around a car.
Below we have put together some advice to help your pet cope with car travel, along with the safety precautions to think about when driving for a lengthier period with a cat or dog as passenger.
The best thing to do for a pet’s first journey is to familiarise them with the car as much as possible. This means that a few days before it is worth letting them into the car just to wander round and get used to their surroundings. They are likely to be much more comfortable in an environment where they’ve been before, than having to cope with a restrictive space that is completely alien to them.
Before you set off
Prior to every car journey, make sure your pet has been to the toilet, and had one last run around to stretch their legs. In addition, as much as possible try and stop your pet from eating up to 2 hours from setting off, as the last thing you want is for them to be car sick while you’re trying to drive. If they need to eat, then ensure the meal is light and not too heavy on their stomach, otherwise you could end up pulling over to the side of the road earlier than you would have liked.
First and foremost, it’s worth investing in a car harness for larger animals, or putting a crate or small carrier in the boot for smaller cats or dogs. By law your pet needs to be restrained so they cannot roam around a vehicle and cause a distraction that could lead to a possible crash. Even if your pet is generally well-behaved in the car, if you plan on making frequent trips with them it’s worth investing in a harness, cage or crate to ensure their safety, and yours.
For particularly long journeys, it’s worth packing the essentials before you leave. That means water, food, treats, poo bags and a harness or crate to ensure the safety of your pet. Also make sure your pet can cope with long journeys by taking them on a few shorter journeys to ensure they are comfortable when driving.
Depending on how long you might be travelling for, make sure you plan in plenty of rest stops to let your pet relax and stretch their legs. Try to plan a 15-minute break for every 2 hours of driving, and especially if you have a dog, make sure your stops have an area for you to walk them and go to the toilet if necessary.
Pets should not be left unattended in cars under any circumstances.
For further advice on caring for your cat or dog, check out the Simpsons Premium Advice Centre.
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