We all love to take our dogs out on trips to the beach or to the countryside but it is important that we keep our dogs safe at all times while travelling around the UK. So, leading veterinary charity, PDSA, is encouraging owners to follow its Bark and Ride code, to ensure that any four-legged passengers have a smooth ride when travelling in the car.
PDSA’s Bark and Ride code is based on five easy-to-remember principles:
Routine – It is very important to get your dog into a good travel routine. Getting pets used to the car from an early age is vital and will ensure that travel is not a stressful experience. If an animal isn’t used to car travel, the whole experience can be very daunting, so owners should let their pet safely explore the car with the engine turned off for a week or so. Then, start with short journeys using proper safety restraints (you can purchase special dog seatbelts for use in cars), and reward your pet with praise or a healthy treat when they are calm and relaxed.
Around one in every six dogs suffers from travel sickness so it’s important that owners recognise the first signs, such as excessive yawning and salivating. Owners should seek advice from their vet if travel sickness becomes a regular problem as they will be able to advise on appropriate treatment, which often includes behavioural therapy and medication.
Restrain Dogs should always be secured using a car safety harness or use a pet carrier if your dog is very small. This will prevent any distractions and will keep you, your passengers and your pets safe from harm in the event of an accident. For example, at 30 mph, a 50lb (22.5kg) Border Collie would be thrown forward with a force equivalent to a polar bear!
PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Sean Wensley, says: Having an unrestrained dog loose in the car can be extremely dangerous. While it might seem harmless to allow your pet to roam freely while you drive, the consequences for drivers, pedestrians and your pet could be fatal if there’s an accident.
Relax – If you’re relaxed then your pet is more likely to stay calm. Pets will pick up on your anxiety, so behave normally while you’re travelling. Packing your pet’s favourite blanket and toys can also help them to feel at ease.
Refuel (your pet that is!) – Make sure you take plenty of fresh water with you. Bank Holidays are well known for long journeys and traffic jams, so make sure you are prepared to keep your pet happy and well hydrated. It is not advisable to feed your dog just before setting off, or while travelling, as it could make them feel sick. Instead, stop regularly and give them water in a safe place away from traffic.
Responsibility – As the owner of a pet you are responsible for their health and welfare. When travelling with them in the car, you should be prepared for all eventualities. Make sure you take regular stops to give your dog a chance to stretch its legs and go to the toilet and don’t forget to keep an eye on the temperature; if you feel hot, your dog will be even hotter!
Sean continues: One of the most important things for owners to remember is to never to leave their pets in a car in warm weather, even for a few minutes. The temperature inside can soar very quickly and could result in heatstroke which can prove fatal