Travelling With Pets

1 month ago
Number of Participants: 1

If you have to make a journey with your four-legged friend, here’s how to do it safely:

  • Use a crate or carrier. Buy a crate or carrier that keeps your pet safely contained. It needs to be well-ventilated and big enough for your pet to stand up and turn around. The carrier must also be strapped in to ensure it doesn’t move around as you drive.
  • Buy comfortable restraints. While ‘restraints’ don’t sound very pleasant, they can actually be quite comfy if you use specialized harnesses and seat belts. These allow dogs to partially move around and even sit upright.
  • Get your pet used to travel. If your pet is an anxious traveler and you have a big journey coming up, start getting your four-legged friend used to be in the car for some shorter journeys.
  • Check on your pet regularly. Ask a passenger to keep an eye on them, or if you’re alone in the car, take regular breaks to make sure they’re doing okay. Be on the lookout for signs of overheating or motion sickness, such as panting.
  • Never leave your pet alone in the vehicle. Cars can heat up quickly, even on days that don’t seem particularly hot, and heatstroke can be deadly. It’s not enough to park in the shade, leave the window open (which is also unsafe), and give them water, as animals don’t have the same ability to regulate their body temperature as we do.
  • Bring food and necessities. When you’re packing your travel bag, don’t forget your pet’s supplies – that means food, bowl, lead, poo bags, and any medication. Think about packing more than you need in case of an emergency or if you’re stuck out for longer than you expected.
  • Keep them hydrated. Make sure water is easily accessible for your pet. If you’re worried about spills, you can buy specialist bowls that are designed to be used in cars.
  • Don’t let your pet hang its head out of the window. They could get stones, dust, or other debris in their eyes, and they’re more likely to get seriously hurt if you have an accident. It’s fine to have the windows in the car slightly open to help with airflow but make sure there’s no chance of your pet jumping out.
  • Microchip your pet. It’s a legal requirement for a dog to be microchipped and wear an ID tag. That way if they do get lost, you maximize your chances of being reunited. Having your cat microchipped is a good idea for the same reason, especially if you’re going to be away for a while. If you’re taking your pet abroad, find out what you need to know about traveling in Europe with your pet after Brexit.
  • Let them exercise. Don’t forget to make regular stops so your pet can stretch its legs. Motorway service stations often have grassy areas where you can do this. Just make sure to clean up after them if they make a mess.

As you can probably imagine, different species of pets have different needs when traveling. After all, what works for a dog might not be best suited for a rabbit. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best advice for different animals:

  • Dogs. A dog will need to be restrained, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have access to some kind of movement. It should be possible for them to sit up to full height if they wish, as well as be able to lie down to get comfy.

    If you choose to transport your dog in a crate, make sure your pet can see you. This could reduce how anxious they feel, especially if you have a close bond. Putting treats in the crate could also create a positive association for future journeys.

  • Cats. True to their stereotype, cats can be quite fussy when it comes to being driven. According to the RSPCA, you’ll need to carefully place your cat in a robust carrier, which should be secured tightly to a seat. Your cat should have enough space to sit and stand up fully, turn around comfortably and lie down. Make sure to include familiar items, with scents they can recognize as ‘safe’. Also, think about giving them toys or occasional treats to keep them distracted.

    On longer journeys, take regular breaks to allow your cat to move around the car (only while parked) and use the litter tray. Remember to make sure the car is secure, with all doors and windows shut before you let them out of their carrier.

  • Rabbits. Easily spooked, rabbits need to be given time to understand and adjust to new surroundings. Make sure to fill their carrier with items they love (treats, food, toys, and bedding that smells like home) and allow them to enter it at their own pace. Keep it dark inside, either by choosing a carrier with plastic sides or placing a blanket over the top of wire carriers.

    Make sure rabbits have enough space to move around and lie comfortably but keep it small and cozy enough, with newspaper, old towels, and hay, for example, so that they don’t slide around. Remember to always keep bonded pairs of rabbits together – don’t transport them alone. Strap them in tight and try to take them as easy as possible.

  • Reptiles. Unlike mammals, reptiles need to be kept warm when they travel. Think about using heat packs as part of their container, but be sure to monitor the temperature to avoid them overheating. Check that what they’re traveling in is well-ventilated and lined with a soft, absorbent paper or towel. If your reptile likes a moist environment, you can line the base with moist paper towels. Though it might be tempting to include rocks and sticks to make them at home, these items could move during transit and cause injury to your cold-blooded friend.
Claire Ross
Working as a Media Consultant.