Travel Safely with your Pet

There are likely to be times you will need to travel with your pet. It may be infrequent and short trips or sometimes regular or longer trips. The hints and advice here are to help you and your pet have a comfortable and safe journey. 

Always plan your journey carefully, taking into account your pet’s needs. If you have any doubt about whether your pet is fit and healthy to travel, seek advice from your vet.

 

Never ever leave pets unattended in a vehicle. Dogs and cats don’t cool themselves down as effectively as humans so quickly suffer from heat stroke and dehydration. Leaving a window open or parking in the shade is not enough to reduce the car temperature.

Don’t let your dog to hang their head out of the car window. It is potentially dangerous for the dog as well as distracting for the owner and other drivers.

 

Take regular breaks. Your pet should be allowed to exercise and go to the toilet at regular intervals. Cats and small animals should be given the chance to use a litter tray. Always make sure that all windows and doors are firmly closed and locked, whilst your cat is out of its carrier, to prevent him/her from escaping. Dogs should always be exercised on a lead, and you should make sure that they can’t escape from the car as you go to get them out;

The Highway Code states:

"When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars."  

Breaching the Highway Code isn’t necessarily a legal offence but a motorist could be considered to be driving ‘without due care and attention’ if their pet is loose in the car. 

A loose pet can easily distract the driver. They could also block or move the steering wheel, gear stick and foot pedals. If an accident occurred as a result, it could be considered dangerous driving, which carries more serious penalties.

A simple restraint or carrier can stop your dog or cat from moving around the car and distracting you. Consider carefully if the restraint or carrier will be suitable to protect your pet in the event of an accident.

On longer journeys, always take plenty of water. It can be a good idea to keep a travel bowl and bottle of water in the car for emergencies or delays. It is however possible for your pet to drink out of a cupped hand. 

Help your pets get used to travelling in a car. Build up to longer journeys with short trips. There are behavioural and herbal supports to help your pet feel more comfortable

 

Practise socialising your animalEnsure your pet is used to busy places. Ideally, this should be done from a young age as socialising your pet develops their confidence in dealing with all types of new conditions

 

Get your pet used to new experiences they may encounter outside of the home and in a train carriage. This will teach them to be outgoing and friendly, compared to a lack of socialisation that may lead to anxiety and fear of the unknown

 

Tips for Train Travel 

 

Make sure that you contact the rail company prior to arranging travel to check what their ‘pet travel’ policy is. Further information on transporting animals by train within the UK is available from National Rail Enquires, and from Eurotunnel and Eurostar for travelling to and from Europe. If you decide to use this method of transport you should:

• Travel during the coolest part of the day and when it is less busy e.g. leave first thing in the morning or later at night;

• Always make sure your pet is secure (i.e. keeping cats or small animals in a robust and suitable carrier which allows them to sit and stand up at full height, turn around easily and lie down in a natural position), and that they cannot escape;

• Make sure your pet is comfortable and has enough water;

• Make sure that there is enough ventilation for your pet, but always take great care to ensure that your pet cannot escape from his/her carrier;

• Make sure that in addition to your microchip, your pet is wearing an id tag with up to date phone numbers. 

• Always make sure that the train company officials know that you have a live animal and follow their instructions;

• Make sure you have fulfilled all the legal requirements of taking your pet abroad if your journey takes you out of the UK.

Prep your pet for long trips:

Take your pet on a series of short trips before covering long distances by train - animals will feel at ease in a train carriage if they have experienced practice rides
Ensure your pet is happy spending time in a travel carrier e.g. by placing their food dish inside the carrier and leaving them in the confined space for brief periods   

 

 

Travelling on a ferry

Make sure you contact the ferry company prior to arranging travel to find out what their ‘pet travel’ policy is. Animals other than registered assistance dogs are not allowed in passenger areas on most ferry trips, and passengers are not always allowed back to their cars during the journey. This will mean you may not be able to check on your pet during your ferry crossing. Depending on the length of your journey you may be required to place your pet in a container rather than leave them in the car. You should take all this into consideration when deciding to take your pet on a ferry. If you decide to use this method of transport you should: • Have your pet checked over by a vet before you travel. • Never travel on a hot day, as leaving your animal in a car on a warm or hot day can cause distress and suffering and can lead to the death of your pet; • Travel during the coolest part of the day and when it is less busy e.g. travel overnight, leave first thing in the morning or later at night; • Always make sure your pet is secure (i.e. keeping cats or small animals in a robust and suitable carrier which allows them to sit and stand up at full height, turn around easily and lie down in a natural position), and that they cannot escape; • Make sure your pet is comfortable and has enough water; • Make sure that there is enough ventilation for your pet, but always take great care to ensure that your pet cannot escape from their carrier or your vehicle; • Always make sure that the ferry company officials responsible for loading know that you have a live animal in your vehicle and follow their instructions; • Make sure you have fulfilled all the legal requirements of taking your pet abroad if your journey takes you out of the UK (the Pet Travel Scheme provides details on approved sea transport companies).

http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/information/PETS-travel-scheme/travelling-by-ferry-with-pets

Air Travel

Long journeys including the flight, transportation to and from the aircraft and waiting times in the hold of an aircraft can be very stressful and distressing for pets. Apart from registered assistance dogs, animals cannot travel in the cabin of an aircraft with their owners and so will be transported in the hold. Although the hold is usually ventilated and temperature controlled, this may not be the case when the aircraft is on the ground. Delays can occur in flight times and regulations may not allow the hold to be opened on the tarmac, even during high temperatures. You should take all this into consideration when deciding to use this method of transport. Make sure you contact the airline prior to arranging travel to find out what their ‘pet travel’ policy is. By law the International Air Transport Association Live Animals Regulations must be met in order to transport animals by plane. These specify standards such as the design, ventilation, and size of containers for transporting dogs and cats, and also arrangements for providing food and water. They also state that particular animals are not allowed to travel by plane. When choosing to travel with your pet by plane you should: • Have your pet checked over by a vet before you travel. • Choose the most direct flight to your destination to reduce the travel time and stress on your pet; • Travel during the coolest part of the day e.g. travel overnight, leave first thing in the morning or later at night; • Where possible introduce your pet to a flight container before flights to give them a chance to become accustomed to the surroundings. Your airline should advise you on the type of container that you should use; • Make sure your pet is comfortable; • Make sure your pet is provided with water in a non-spill container that will last the length of the flight. Gelled water may be provided as a reserve; • Make sure you have fulfilled all the legal requirements of taking your pet abroad if your journey takes you out of the UK (the Pet Travel Scheme provides details on approved air transport companies).