Last month we talked about the health risks for your pet when you take them on holiday and this month we’ve got some advice about how to keep your pet safe and comfortable throughout the journey.
It’s actually a legal requirement that pets are restrained in some way while travelling in a car, so as to not distract the driver, but it is also advisable for their safety and yours! Restraint can be done in a few ways – a harness with a seatbelt, a crate, or a dog guard (if they are in a crate or boot space). A smaller area is actually better for their safety. If the car suddenly stops, there will be less movement and a lower risk of injury. That being said, your pet still needs to be comfortable and must have room to lie down – the right balance is important. It is also a requirement, on public transport, to have pets under close control, so a correctly fitted lead and collar (perhaps with a safety second loop just in case they slip their collar) is especially important around ferries, trains, and busy roads.
Restraint and appropriate training is also important to prevent loss of your pet – make sure they can’t escape as soon as you open the car door. A harness and seatbelt is good for this, or you could leave a lead on your dog, or have a secondary door which will allow you more time to vacate the vehicle. Prior training is also advisable, a good ‘wait’ command is very useful, as well as the pet becoming accustomed to the routine of getting in and out of the car.
We recommend your pet wears an ID tag with mobile numbers on it for the duration of your holiday and that they are also microchipped.
Comfort & Stress
As well as safety, you will also want to make your pet as comfortable as possible. This doesn’t just mean a comfy blanket, but also access to water (travel bowls are available), air flow and preparation. Just as you need breaks, so does your pet.
It’s advisable to stop regularly (and offer water if not accessible during the journey). Please be warned: never leave your dog in the car when you go into the services. Cars heat so quickly (even with the window open) and it could cause life-threatening heat stroke!
Another important aspect of pet travel is stress, cars are an unusual experience and many pets need time to get used to it. We would recommend every pet owner to expose their pet to the car early and practice with short journeys and try to associate it with good things (not just to bring them to the vets!). This will help them become accustomed to it and they will be more relaxed. This will also help with possible travel sickness. There are products available to support this training such as calming aids and travel sickness medication – your vet can advise you on this.
Finally, before you depart on your jolly hols, there are a few other considerations we recommend to add to your preparation agenda:
- Do you have the details of the nearest vets at your destination?
- What is the pet policy at your accommodation? Are pets allowed to run free in the garden? Do they have to be crated? Is there somewhere you can leave them if you pop out for a meal?
- What are the arrangements on public transport for pets? Will the ferry allow dogs on the deck, or do they have to stay in the car? (Really not ideal!).
- Is there extra precautions to take for their health? The Continent has other pet disease dangers than here in the UK, for example, sandflies. The diseases we mentioned last week are far more prevalent in areas of Europe.
- Is your pet insured abroad? It is worth checking your policy details to see what you pet is covered for.
- Is everything right on their pet passport and you know what you need to do to re-enter the UK? Each country have their own pet entry requirement such as rabies vaccination or monthly worming.
Familiarise yourself with the country’s policy and also the UK re-entry requirements. Visit www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad for more information
For more information, please speak to Cromwell Vets or call 01487 800199. 24hr Emergency Service: 01480 52222