Anyone planning a weekend getaway this Bank Holiday should remember it’s not just the two-legged members of the family that need to buckle-up: the four-legged ones need to be safely secured as well.
“Dogs can cause accidents if they are not secure in the car, as they can distract the driver” warns PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Sean Wensley. “An unsecured dog can both sustain and cause serious injuries, should you be involved in an accident.”
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), if a car travelling at 30mph crashes containing an unrestrained Border Collie (22kg), the dog would hurtle forward with a force equivalent to a polar bear!
PDSA advises owners to secure dogs properly, to ensure the safety of everyone (furry or otherwise) in the car. Pet seat belts or harnesses are ideal for medium or larger sized dogs, which secure the dog’s shoulders, legs, chest and back and attach to the car’s seat belt. Alternatively a dog guard can be fitted to secure your boot.
For small dogs and other pets, including cats and small pets, a sturdy pet carrier is an ideal way to keep them safe. Always check that the door is securely fastened before driving, to prevent your pet from escaping and, if possible, secure the carrier in the foot well, ensuring there is enough ventilation around it.
To help keep your pets safe while travelling, PDSA has put together some top tips for owners.
PDSA’s Top Travel Tips:
- Introduce your pet to the car from an early age. Allow your pet to explore the inside of your car in their own time (under supervision). With the car stationary, leave the doors open so they can come and go as they please and reward relaxed behaviour. Gradually build up from this – first, by just turning the engine on, then when they are comfortable with this, by going for a short drive. Building up slowly can help make young pets less nervous about travelling.
- Take pets for a walk before the journey. This is a good way to burn off your pet’s excess energy to prevent them from becoming restless.
- Always ensure your pet is secured in a car safety harness or pet carrier before setting out on a journey. This will prevent any distractions and will also help keep you, your passengers, and your pet safe from harm in the event of an accident.
- Never let dogs lean out of a moving vehicle’s window. Their eyes or nose can be injured by debris or small stones kicked up from the road. Pets have also been known to fall out or be injured by passing vehicles.
- Drive steadily. Try not to brake sharply or accelerate too fast as this can be stressful or frightening for your pet.
- Make regular stops. This gives your pet a chance to stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Provide plenty of drinking water during breaks, especially during warm weather, and avoid travelling during the hottest parts of the day.