Paws and Penalties: The Hidden Cost Of Driving with Your Pet

By Lewis on 7th October 2019 - View Comments

Britain is well-known as a nation of pet lovers. Many of us can’t bare the thought of going on a long trip without our furry friends, with 56% saying they enjoy holidays more when they’re with their dog.

However, you might want to think twice before putting Fido in the passenger seat. Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that animals in a vehicle must be “suitably restrained” so that they can’t act as a distraction, or cause either of you an injury if you had to stop suddenly.

Not restraining your pet can lead to charges for driving without due care. This can amount to nine penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500.

So, how exactly do you restrain your pet safely? CarShop recommends that dogs should wear a harness that can be clipped onto the seat belt fastener, like the one pictured below:

Smaller pets, like cats and hamsters, are best suited to travelling in a crate that can be strapped in with a normal seatbelt.

Whatever the size of your pet, they should be placed behind the passenger seat and away from any airbags. This not only ensures their safety, but makes it so that you, the driver, can’t be distracted.

Some pets can also suffer anxiety as a result of riding in a car. It’s suggested that you bring things they know from home. such as toys or blankets, that will make them more comfortable.

If they live in a small enough cage, you might even be able to bring the whole thing. Anything that limits restlessness will be good for you and your pet.

Additionally, you should try not to feed your pet within two hours of your journey; this will minimise the chances of them getting upset stomachs. However, if you have a smaller pet, like a hamster,  it’s recommended that you keep a supply of food in the car for your longer journeys.

Just like how you carefully plan any journeys you’re taking with human passengers, you should do the same when travelling with your pet. Make sure there are plenty of stops along the way, with some nice places to walk and park if possible. Taking your dog to fun places in the car in the period of time leading up to your big journey will mean that when the day comes, they’ll associate being in the car with happy experiences. Hopefully, this will make things smoother for the both of you!

If the British weather smiles on us with a hot day, make sure that you use sun shades on windows, and carry plenty of water to stop animals from overheating. If you open windows, don’t do this so much that pets can jump or hang their heads out, as both are extremely dangerous.

Lastly – though we shouldn’t really have to tell you this – NEVER leave a pet in a car on their own. This applies even in cooler temperatures, but especially when it’s very warm.

With these tips in mind, you should be all set to go on an adventure with your four-legged friend!

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