Dogs are an important part of the family. If you’re thinking about taking yours on holiday with you, think of ways to make the long car journey as pleasant for them as possible.
Visit the vet
A couple of weeks before you set off, take your dog to the vet to make sure it’s healthy enough for a lengthy trip. It’s also worth checking they’re up to date with vaccinations, especially if you’re going away for a long time (lucky thing).
It’s against the highway code to drive without restraining your pet in the car, so you’ll need a suitable carrier for the journey if you’re driving to your destination.
This is really important advice, as loose pets can cause distractions, which can then cause an accident. Braking harshly, even at a relatively low speed, can be fatal for your dog if it gets flung around the car, while you or other passengers could be seriously injured if it hits you with significant force during the crash.
Small dogs should travel in a sturdy and well-ventilated pet carrier. The case should be large enough so they can stand up and turn around, and they should also be able to see out of it. Secure it in place with the seat belt or wedge it firmly in the foot well.
Never shut the carrier in the boot where they could suffocate, or leave it unsecured where it could be thrown around in an accident. To get your dog used to travelling inside the carrier, take it out for a few short trips in the car before you head off on the longer journey.
If you have a medium or large dog, a safety harness that attaches to the seatbelt is ideal, or you could buy a travel cage for the boot. If your dog has a favourite toy, let them have it on the journey, along with a familiar-smelling blanket or anything else that’ll make them feel more comfortable and helps settle them down on the journey.
Rules on the road
Stop every couple of hours so your dog can get some exercise (remember to take its lead), food and water on the journey. In fact, they’ll probably need more water than usual due to the anxiety of travelling, so don’t be tempted to cut down on the number of times you stop.
It might look cool in the films, but never let your dog put its head outside the window while you’re driving. Not only could it result in a very nasty accident, but grit, dust and bugs could be blown into your dog’s eyes and lead to infection. If it’s too warm for them, turn up the air conditioning or open the car windows slightly.
However, be aware of the dangers when leaving your dog alone in the car for any length of time (even with the windows open). If the temperature in the car becomes too high, they could suffer from heatstroke and possibly die.
Pet passports and insurance
If your journey involves taking your dog abroad, make sure they’re fully covered with relevant pet insurance.
Churchill can provide insurance cover up to three overseas journeys a year, providing you follow the guidelines of the government’s Pet Travel Scheme(PETS). This is also where you can find out more about the process of getting a pet passport.