We are undeniably a nation of pet lovers; it doesn’t matter what size, shape, or species our pet is, to us they’re another member of the family. Whenever we travel by car we automatically reach for our seat belts and those of us of a”certain age” mentally think “Clunk Click, Every Trip”!

It may surprise you then, to learn that a scarily high percentage of us fail to secure our beloved pets properly (48% according to The Dogs’ Trust); putting their safety, and ours, at risk. Rule 57 of 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”.

When you think about it, it makes total sense to restrain your fur-baby as you would a human child. After all, anything unsecured in a vehicle effectively becomes a ballistic object in the event of a sudden and/or unexpected stop. Now imagine if it was a larger breed of dog weighing in excess of twenty kilogram’s; the damage or injury this could unwittingly cause doesn’t bear thinking about does it? For this reason alone it’s worth restraining your animal, and if possible having them behind the passenger seat.

The image we’ve all seen countless times of dogs with their heads out of open car windows with tongues lolling and ears flapping wildly about suddenly lose its appeal and jollity in the event of an accident. Why? Well for starters it may invalidate your car insurance. Rendering your car insurance null-and-void could mean that if you’re in an accident the responsibility for paying for any damage to vehicle(s) lies firmly with you. On top of that, there could be medical, veterinary, and other costs involved which may add up to eye-watering bills of five figure sums; ouch.

Then there’s the potential to lose your driving license (in the worst case scenario), monetary fines, and penalty points. “Distracted Driving” can carry an on-the-spot fine of £100 and three points on your license, with the potential to increase to a £5,000 fine and nine penalty points if your case were to go to court.

With a bit of savvy and planning though, all of this can be avoided. Nowadays there are a whole host of pet safety products on the market, one of which is very cutely modelled in a “YouTube” clip. If you haven’t seen the “rocket pack” wearing pup already, you need to take a look 🙂 . You can pick up a pet seat belt for about a fiver or a car harness for about £10. Here at Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre we always advise you to buy the best you can afford; preferably you should go into a shop and get face-to-face advice and feel the product for yourself. We are of course, more than happy to talk to you about this matter – your pets health and safety is of paramount importance to us.

Clearly, harnesses aren’t going to be the preferred choice for transporting Chickens, Cats, or Ferrets – although if your pet travels like this we would absolutely love you to send us a photo in! For these types of pet a crate, carrier, or small cage will serve the purpose better. Cat owners among you may find that your pet prefers a smaller carrier so that they don’t get jiggled about whilst travelling and some felines just like the “cosier “feeling of a smaller space.

As with the harnesses, we at SLVC advise you to buy the best quality you can afford when it comes to crates and carriers. The one thing to avoid is cardboard boxes; not only are they flimsy, but if kitty has a toileting “incident” they may well give way as you lift it out of your car.

I hope this has given you something to think about, but don’t forget to get in touch with one of the Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre team if you want to discuss this topic further (perhaps your pet needs calming tablets to travel etc).

Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy 🙂