We are a nation of pet lovers and whether you’re whisking yours off to the vet, planning a trip to the beach, or simply can’t bear to be parted from them, your dog will travel in the car. Have you ever considered whether you are taking the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s safety when you do so? Here is some useful guidance.
Dangerous or Illegal
Bringing your dog into the car and letting it roam unsecured around the boot, back seat (or worse still, the passenger seat) is both dangerous and illegal. According to Rule 57 of the Highway Code, pet owners travelling with dogs are required to ensure that dogs are ‘suitably restrained’ in the vehicle.
But what does ‘suitable restraint’ mean? Driving with a dog on your lap is not considered as suitable restraint, nor is making use of standard seatbelts, leads, or chains. Instead, there are several options you can consider when securing your dog in the car;
• Fit a dog harness seat belt which is an inexpensive option and particularly useful for small dogs;
• Attach a zip line harness which is more suited to active dogs and allows them to move around just enough;
• Secure your dog in a crate in the boot, perfect for an older, more relaxed pet;
• Make use of a dog guard in the boot. These are frequently available for larger cars and prevent the dog from being thrown forward in an accident;
• Install a back-seat barrier which is perfect for larger dogs who would be uncomfortable when restrained.
Comfort and Safety
Beyond legal regulations, it’s also important that you ensure your pets are comfortable when taking car journeys. Here are a few tips to do so:
• Work up to it: If your dog is not used to car travel, help them become more comfortable by making very short trips ideally from a young age and then building up to longer trips.
• Don’t travel after meals: Try to ensure that your dog has not eaten immediately before long journeys.
• Take plenty of breaks: It’s ideal to stop regularly to allow your dog to relieve itself, stretch its legs, and have some water.
• Keep the car cool: Try to keep the air conditioning on throughout the journey and if your dog is in the boot, consider using sun shades. The A/C will often not reach all the way to the back and with the sun shining in the back windows, it can become dangerously hot for animals who cannot regulate their own temperature.
• No acrobatics: Even though it might look cute, don’t allow your dog to stick its head out of the window. They can risk damage to their eyes (flying dirt and debris) and trauma to their ears.
• Don’t leave unattended: If you park the car even for a short time, don’t leave the dog unattended. Leaving windows down is not enough to keep a car cool and even just 20 minutes can prove fatal for a dog if their body temperature spikes.
Abbey Insurance Brokers
Our Insurance experts are available to answer any questions you might have to ensure you are properly covered. Give us a call on 08000 66 55 44 or request a callback.