Do you know the laws about travelling with your pets?
In this post we’ll review what UK law has to say about driving with dogs and other pets and share some tips for keeping pets safe in your car.
The Law About Driving With Dogs & Pets in the Car
Though there are no specific laws referring to pets in cars, the Highway Code does set out some guidelines.
“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.”
If the police catch you driving with an unrestrained animal in the car, they may charge you for “driving without due care and attention”. The penalties for this? A fine of up to £5,000 and up to nine points on your licence. If you are involved in an accident your pet could also suffer some severe injuries. Car crashes are just as bad for animals as they are for humans!
How to Keep Cats & Small Pets Safe in the Car
When travelling with smaller animals, such as cats, you can easily transport them in carriers. This will prevent them from roaming around the car and distracting you while you’re driving. You could also restrain the carrier itself with a seatbelt, which should keep them safe in the event of an accident.
How to Keep Dogs Safe in the Car
But when travelling with larger animals, such as dogs, you’ll have to take some special measures. Rule 57 of the Highway Code recommends: “A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”
Let’s look at each of these solutions in turn.
Dog Restraints and Seat Belts
Specialist dog seatbelts and car harnesses are available in a range of sizes to suit every dog. Seat belt restraints are simply attachments that you attach to your dog’s collar before plugging into the seatbelt port.
This will keep your dog in place while you drive, but it may not offer much protection in the event of an accident. For that, look for dog harnesses for the car, many of which have been impact tested for safety.
Dog Cages and Dog Guards
A dog cage can offer larger dogs the same sort of protection as a pet carrier offers smaller animals. The difference is that they’re much bigger, and so you’ll probably need to place it in the boot. Combine it with a dedicated dog bed for the car and you should keep your canine companion safe and comfortable on the road.
Some dog cages are specifically designed for cars and are built to absorb shock and keep their shape upon impact. They’re known as “impact crates”, and they tend to be a lot bigger than standard dog cages.
Finally, dog guards are a good solution if you don’t have enough room in your car for a full-size dog cage. These work to create a barrier between your boot and your back seats, so can ensure your dog stays in place while you drive.
More Tips for Keeping Pets Safe In Cars
If you own a cat, or another smaller animal, you probably won’t drive with them very often. Dog owners, though, are much more likely to drive with their pets. So as well as properly restraining your dog in the car, it’s important to train them to behave in the car.
How to Keep Your Dog Calm in the Car
Above all it’s important to keep your dog calm on the road. Get them a nice, comfortable dog bed for the car, and bring their favourite toy along for the ride too. Keep them out of direct sunlight, take regular breaks on long trips, and bring food and water so you can feed them if need be.
Also, try to get your dog used to driving. Don’t just take them in the car as part of long journeys, or for trips to the vets. If you do this, your dog will either find driving so unfamiliar that they’ll feel stressed and anxious, or worse, they’ll associate it with the vet. So regularly drive them to some fun places for walks, and they may become calmer travelling companions in no time.
Make Sure Your Insurance Covers You
If you regularly travel with animals, make sure you tell your car insurance provider, so that they can give you the level of cover you need.
Do you travel with animals as part of a dog walking or grooming business? Find out how we can give you specialist van insurance cover to protect both you and the animals you drive with.