Taking pets on a long journey

Many pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family. So, if the family goes on holiday, then along goes the cat or dog too. And if the holiday involves a long car journey, it’s up to you to make the experience more pleasant for your pet. So here are some handy tips on travelling with your furry friend.

Visit the vet

A couple of weeks before you set off on holiday, it’s worth taking your cat or dog to see the vet to make sure it’s healthy enough for a lengthy trip. And check that your pet is up to date with vaccinations, especially if you’re going away for a long period of time.

Travel safety

You’ll also need to buy a suitable pet carrier for the journey and not leave them loose. Even accidents at a relatively low speed can be fatal for your pet if it gets flung around the car. And you or any passengers could also be seriously injured if you were to be hit by an unsecured animal in an accident. Unrestrained pets can also distract a driver and be the actual cause of an accident.

Cats or small dogs should travel in a sturdy pet carrier, which is well-ventilated. The case should be large enough to allow your pet to stand up, turn around and see out. Secure it in place with the seat belt or wedge it firmly in the foot well.

Never shut the carrier in the boot as your pet could suffocate, and don’t put it unsecured in the boot of a hatchback either as it could be thrown around in an accident. For medium and large dogs, a safety harness that attaches to the seatbelt is ideal. Alternatively, you could buy a travel cage.

If you have a cat, then you’ll need to put some absorbent material, newspaper for example, in the bottom of the pet carrier.

If your pet has a favourite toy, then put it inside the carrier or cage, along with a familiar-smelling blanket or even some of your old clothes to make your pet feel more comfortable. And put in a dish of water too. To get your pet used to travelling inside its carrier, take it out for a few short trips in the car before you head off on the longer journey.

On the road

During the journey, you’ll need to stop every couple of hours to allow a dog to get some exercise (remember to take its lead). Never try to cut down the number of times you stop by not giving your dog food and water. In fact, your pet will probably need more water than usual due to the stress of travelling.

Don’t let your pet put its head out of the window while you’re driving. Not only could it have a very nasty accident, but grit, dust and bugs could be blown into you pet’s eyes, which can lead to infection. If it is warm, open the car windows slightly.

Finally, be aware of the danger of leaving pets alone in a car for any length of time (even with the windows open). If the temperature in the car becomes too high your pet could suffer from heatstroke and may possibly die.

Pet passports

If your long journey is going to involve driving over to Europe, it’s now possible to take your pet with you, under the government’s Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). To find out more about the process of getting a pet passport, visit DEFRA.

Make sure your pets are fully covered by pet insurance whether you are at home or away. Get a pet insurance quote and buy a policy online from Churchill.