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How to stay safe when travelling with pets this summer

Skoda Dog Crufts (Credit: skoda UK)
Skoda Dog Crufts (Credit: skoda UK)

Thousands of pet owners will be looking to take their four-legged friends away on a car-based adventure this summer. The thought of an exciting getaway is a tempting one, that’s for sure, but there are some aspects you need to keep in mind to ensure the safety of everyone in the car – pets included.

Here, we’ve taken a look through some of the primary things you’ll need to consider when travelling with pets this summer.

Pets need to be properly restrained

When driving in the UK – or further afield – you’ll need to make sure that your pets are suitably restrained. That could be with a proper seat harness, which typically locks into the standard seat anchor and will need to hook onto a dog harness to ensure they are secure.

If this isn’t an option, then you’ll need to keep the dogs in the boot with a proper guard to create a suitable partition between the rear luggage area and the back seats. You’ll be able to find these via the car’s manufacturer or a third-party supplier, and they’ll fit in neatly without too much fuss.

Volkswagen Dog Restraints
Dogs should be properly restrained when travelling (Credit: Volkswagen UK)

Keep water and snacks at hand

Just as with humans, pets need frequent water breaks to keep them comfortable. Particularly during the summer, plenty of fluids is vitally important, so make sure that you’ve got a good supply of fresh water on hand. You might want to top-up a refillable bottle whenever you stop, too.

Also, make sure that you’ve got a bowl stored away. You can also get rubber, collapsible bowls that take up very little room if travelling with lots of kit.

Take frequent breaks

Those on longer journeys should plan for frequent stops along the route. This doesn’t have to be at a service station, either, as you could plot out some more interesting stopover areas that provide an interesting walk for you and your furry friend.

However, if you do need to stop at a service station, most sites offer a large area of grass for your pet to explore.

Skoda Dog Crufts
Take frequent breaks when travelling with dogs (Credit: Skoda UK)

Check the rules for driving in Europe

Since the UK left the EU, driving on the continent with a pet is now accompanied by a few more processes than before. One of the key changes is that pets will now require a pet passport to travel, which involves booking into a local vets for a  rabies vaccination, as well as obtaining an Animal Health Certificate within 10 days of departure.

Then, on the return visit, a number of countries require tapeworm treatments between one and five days before a return to the UK.

It’s all a little more complicated than it was previously, so it’s an area to research properly before you leave.

Remember, if you don’t have an aspect of the requirements covered then you might be refused travel.

Puppy in rear of car
Build up to longer journeys with nervous pets (Credit: Skoda UK)

Use window shades

It gets hot during the summertime and even when the air conditioning is blowing, the rear seats of a car can get warm. We’d advise investing in some window shades to help keep your pet as comfortable as possible. They’re inexpensive and can be fitted to all sizes and shapes of vehicles.

Remember, never leave your dog alone in the car on a hot day. It can take just minutes for a car’s cabin to creep up to dangerous levels .

Stop if your dog seems stressed

A dog’s wellbeing is paramount when you’re on the road, so it is a good idea to keep an eye on their behaviour while travelling.

Excessive panting or barking could be a sign that they aren’t happy, and if this is the case, make sure you stop and allow them to walk around outside for a period.

If your dog doesn’t seem all that happy about getting into the car in the first place, then it’s a good idea to take things slowly.

Perhaps allow them to eat their favourite meal in the car when it’s stationary, before building up to shorter trips until they comfortable to tackle the bigger adventures.