As a regular part of our lives, cats and dogs may often need to travel with us in the car. However, as our cars aren't designed with animals in mind, a few adaptions will be needed to make our pets safe.
Car travel with dogs
Dogs must be separated from the driver at all times. That is, they should be placed in the open boot of a station wagon or 4WD, or securely on the back seat. Ideally, a grid or net should separate the front and back seats to prevent your animal from interfering with you, or being thrown forward in case of a collision.
It is possible to buy specially adapted seat belts for dogs. These are attached to your dog's harness and connect directly to one of the seatbelt locking systems in your vehicle. Most models can be adjusted to the size of your dog and dogs generally tolerate them well. This allows you to drive with peace of mind, especially during long trips.
There are also small basket options that can fit to the back seats for smaller dogs. Again, these connect into the seatbelt's locking system and hold in place so your dog can sit or lie down inside the basket while you drive. They can also be fastened in using a harness.
Car travel with cats
As with dogs, cats should not be able to move around freely inside the vehicle. They should be placed in a comfortable and appropriately-sized transport cage. Favourite toys or blankets will also help to make your cat feel as comfortable as possible (let's face it, cats tend to like the car less than many dogs!).
If your pet is not accustomed to the car and does not seem very comfortable, you may like to use a pheromone spray (such as Feliway) that can help to soothe your cat. Spray the cage and the rear seat 15 minutes before departure.
Also make sure that the cage does not move. Most good carriers will come with an attachment that will connect to your car's seatbelt. We recommend this is used at all times to avoid it moving around and causing potential injury to your cat. Especially if, heaven forbid, you are involved in an accident. For older carriers with no connecters, try pushing a box between the carrier and the car door to stop it moving around.
It's also worth carrying a first-aid travel kit with you. It's always better to be prepared!
Remember not to overfeed your pet before your trip and try avoid letting them eat for at least a couple of hours before you leave. You may thank yourself later! Car sickness can happen for some pets so check out these handy tips.
For long journeys, remember to take breaks every two hours to give water to your pet, and if possible, avoid giving them food. Take the opportunity to stretch your dog's legs and let them do their business by walking them.
Do not let your cat out of their cage if they are not on a lead as they might run away!
If driving in summer, protect your companion from heat and sunstroke by using air conditioning and any window covers that help to provide shade when inside the car. When you stop, park in the shade if possible and never leave your pet alone in the car - even in the shade and with the windows open! Our pets do not sweat in the same way as humans and the temperature inside a car will always increase fast and to much hotter temperatures than outside. Even on cool days!
Following the above advice, you and your pet should experience a drama-free ride whether popping over to the vet or heading off on holiday.
How do you secure your pet in the car?