How to keep your pet safe when you’re driving

Many of us take to the road with our pets, but now and again they can pose a few challenges when we’re driving.

Richard Gladman, the Head of Driving & Riding Standards at IAM RoadSmart, offers the following tips for owners who drive with their pets:

  • Try not to feed them right before you leave or when you’re on the road, but do keep a supply of their favourite biscuits or treats so you can stay in control. Never let dogs off the lead in a car park or motorway service area.
  • Keep your pets out of the front seat and off your lap. Driving with an unsecured pet in the front could distract you at a safety-critical moment. You never know when it might react to something it thinks is interesting outside the car. Ideally, dogs should be behind a guard or correctly strapped in in the back seat. Cats or smaller creatures should be in an appropriately secured carrier.
  • Leaving your pet alone in the car, no matter what the temperature might feel like outside, is a massive no.
  • Try to take familiar toys and bedding along to provide a relaxed setting and greater comfort on the journey.
  • Don’t change the menu! A sudden switch in your pet’s food before a journey can upset them (and their stomach), which is not what you want when you’re stuck in the car together.
  • Take water and a bowl with you to keep your favourite companion well hydrated.
  • Take frequent stops for exercise and calls of nature. Keep a supply of poo bags in the car just in case.
  • Don’t let your pet stick its head out of the window. It may enjoy the draft, but it’s a major distraction for you and other drivers, as well as being potentially very damaging for their eyes. Dog’s eyes were never designed to travel at 60mph!

“An unhappy pet means an unhappy driver,” Richard Gladman stressed, “so always plan and prepare well in advance for any journey with a furry friend. An unrestrained dog or cat becomes a projectile in the event of sudden braking, potentially injuring drivers, passengers and pets alike. Just as with a child in the car, fit the best equipment that is custom-designed for your size of pet and everyone will arrive relaxed, content and ready for action.”