Tips for taking dog on holiday by car

Hip-hip hooray – holiday season is nearly upon us. And with UK beach getaways involving our furry family members more popular than ever.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Long car journeys can be taxing for everyone at the best of times, but there are a few things you can do to make sure your pet is happy and safe.”

Travelling by car
Ideally, it’s best for dogs to get accustomed to being in a car from a young age, so they feel more at ease during longer journeys,” Nina said.

Start with short trips initially and end your drive with a reward such as a healthy treat, a walk, or some play time.

Before you set out, give your pooch a chance to have a drink and stretch their legs.

Make sure you plan plenty of stops into your journey for your dog to go to the toilet and keep topped up with water.

Cars can reach sweltering temperatures on warmer days, so plan your route carefully and consider leaving early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day.

Try to make the car as cool as possible – sun shades and cooling mats are a good idea.

As tempting as it may be, avoid letting your furry friend stick their head out of the window while driving, as it’s dangerous to themselves and distracting for other drivers.

Picture: Pixabay/Heszter

Strapped in safe
Though we’re all very used to wearing a seatbelt ourselves, most of us don’t realise that our dogs shouldn’t be loose inside a car, even if we’re holding them.

As well as increasing the risk of injury to themselves, unrestrained dogs could potentially distract the driver and lead to an accident, so it’s important for the safety of you and your passengers too.

The Highway Code states that drivers must make sure dogs and other animals are suitably restrained” in the car, so if you are involved in a car crash due to being distracted by your pet, this could be perceived as dangerous driving, and may invalidate your car insurance.

When planning your trip, remember that you may need a spare seatbelt buckle for your pet’s safety harness to click in to.

Car sickness
Car sickness in pets is thought to be caused when certain types of movement affect the part of the brain responsible for balance, combined with some of the anxiety and stress that may come with travelling.

Building up gradually to longer trips will help your pet get used to the motion and help to avoid them getting sick.

Avoid feeding them before a car ride, as this may help. If your pet suffers with severe car sickness, then speak with your vet who may be able to prescribe medication to help.

Just like humans, dogs might feel less nauseous if they face forward while you’re travelling, rather than looking out the side windows – sun shades can help block their view.

Some people prefer to use crates for safety, so make sure they have a non-slip surface, so that your dog doesn’t feel like they’re slipping and sliding as it could add to the motion sickness.”

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