No need to leave puss, pooch or bunny behind: Blue Cross helps us travel safely with our pets
by David Catlow, Clinical Director, Blue Cross
Summer, Autumn or Winter…There is always a time when we look for any opportunity to get out of the house; take a road trip, visit friends or enjoy a day at the beach – and we may want to bring our beloved pets along. But do we know how to travel safely with our four legged friends?
David Catlow, Clinical Director at Blue Cross pet charity shares some advice on how we can travel safely with our pets.
Most people who travel with their dogs or cats know they’re supposed to be secured either in a crate or harness clipped into the seatbelt, but perhaps don’t realise that actually it is a rule to abide by in the Highway Code and you could be breaking the law if your dog is travelling with free roam of the car.
It is unsafe for the pet who could easily get hurt if you need to abruptly stop; it is also extremely dangerous for the driver as the dog can cause distractions and potentially could cause a road accident. This may be obvious, but one of the safest ways to travel with your pets is to make sure they are properly and safely secured so they are not a distraction.
If it is not possible or practical to have a cage and the dog has to travel loose, then either secure the dog on the back seat with a purpose-made seatbelt harness, or behind a fitted dog guard in the space to the rear of the back seat if in an estate or hatchback. Remember, your dog must always be able to stand up, sit and lie down in comfort.
The same applies to travelling with any animal, be it cats, rabbits or other small furries. It is best to invest is a good quality, safe container; this should be a robust and properly constructed cat basket or small animal carrier – avoid cardboard carriers as animals may escape from these quite easily.
If you are going on a very long journey, you’ll need to make sure that your pet has the opportunity to go to the toilet and has access to food and water. With your cat, placing the carrier within a secure dog crate when you have stopped to take a break is often a good solution as this will provide the extra space needed for a litter tray and bowls, whilst keeping your cat safely contained. It’s also wise to stop during travel and offer your dog water or a chance to exercise.
If it is a hot day make sure the car is well ventilated and never leave your pet inside the car if you stop for a break. Dogs, cats and smaller animals can all suffer with heatstroke and become unwell or worse very quickly; leaving an animal in a hot car can be fatal in no time at all.
Put rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals in a plastic carrier (suitable to size) and cover the carrier with towel to keep it dark. Small animals can get very stressed when travelling and the darkness helps them feel safe and secure. Cardboard boxes and carriers are not suitable as they can chew through them easily. If it’s a long journey it is advisable to put hay and water in for them where possible.
If you’re staying away for a few nights, give rabbits lots of time to adjust & settle in the new environment. Provide tunnels and hidey places so they have somewhere to retreat to while settling in, never force a rabbit to come out.
Know your pet and know what’s normal
So if you do have to take your pet on your trip, do pay attention to them and know what to recognise. Know what your pets normal behaviour is so you can tell when something is wrong; especially when it comes to heatstroke! With these tips, and advice from your vet, you can rest assured on your journey that you’re providing the safest arrangements for your pet and can enjoy the whole trip – even the car ride there.
For more information on travelling safely with your pet, or first aid advice please visit www.bluecross.org.uk