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Travelling with Dogs

Other than the toy breeds, dogs should be confined to the rear compartment of an estate car or hatchback, using a purpose-built travelling cage or dog guard. Small breeds can travel on the back seat if you use a special harness that clips into the seat belt. Your dog would probably prefer to be alongside you in the car, but a loose dog is a distraction and a potential danger. If you have to stop suddenly, a 30lb dog travelling at 70mph inside the car could cause serious injury, or worse, to itself and other occupants.

Keeping your travel cages cool

The best travelling cages are made to fit the specific model of the car and make the most of the available space.

They can appear expensive, but over time they make a great deal of sense. Not only will your dog be safe and secure you will have the maximum amount of space for shopping and luggage. Most cages have secure clasps on the door to prevent your dog escaping into the road if the tailgate flies open following a rear end collision (the most frequent motoring accident).

If you decide to go for a dog guard, choose one that is manufactured specifically for your car. It will fit better and provide a more effective barrier to restrain the dog in the event of an accident. To prevent your dog escaping into the road, keep your dog on its lead with the other end securely attached to the car.

Confining a dog to the luggage area also prevents wear and tear to the seats and upholstery, which will affect the value of the car, although you can minimise damage by using seat covers, rugs and boot liners. You can make your dog’s journey more comfortable by providing a beanbag, which will mould to the shape of the dog and stop him from rolling around too much. An older or arthritic dog will definitely benefit from this extra consideration.

Although younger dogs may be happy to leap in and out of cars, this may become a struggle as they become older. If you cannot lift them in and out yourself, try using a couple of steps made out of chipboard covered with a piece of old carpet to give the dog a safe grip, which will make life a lot easier for you and your dog.

Prevent your dog from suffering heat stroke

Leaving a dog in a car in hot weather, even for a few minutes, could result in the dog’s death and you being prosecuted.

Even if all the windows are left open, the temperature can quickly reach 35°C (95°F) and your dog could suffer heat stroke. A dog can even suffer heat stroke while you are driving. If the sun is streaming through the rear or side window of your car as you drive and you feel hot, your dog will undoubtedly be suffering. Fitting blinds can help, but you should not compromise the driver’s vision or safety.

  • Never leave your dog in a car in warm weather – even for a few minutes
  • Avoid taking your dog on long journeys in hot weather. Leave your dog at home where he or she will be far more comfortable.
  • If you have to travel with your dog, provide plenty of water and stop frequently for fresh air.
  • Park in the shade to keep the car cool whilst you and your dog are not in it.
  • Never over-exercise your dog in warm weather, particularly if it is large or overweight, has a thick coat or breathing difficulties.

Signs of heatstroke

  • Distress
  • Collapse
  • Convulsions

What to do

  • Seek veterinary help immediately
  • Remove the dog from the car into a cool area
  • Wrap wet towels around the dog
  • Gently spray water on the dog (particularly the head and neck)
  • Give your dog as much water as it wants. NO ICE but add a pinch of salt.

From time to time regulations do change. Always consult DEFRA for the latest information about travelling abroad with your pet.