5 Ways To Take a Responsible Road Trip With Your Pet

Now that Spring has sprung many of us will be thinking of heading out into the outdoors to visit our favourite locations. And what could make a road trip better but taking your family pet along? Here, Mark Barclay from My Motor World will take you through some tips for road trips with your dog.

Taking your pet on adventures with you is one of the best aspects of having a dog. It’s wonderful to be able to enjoy experiencing the outdoors and new locations with your four-legged friend, and getting out and about can provide them with a lot of much-needed mental stimulation and physical exercise too. But as well as all the good points about bringing your dog with you on a road trip, there are some important safety pointers to keep in mind too.

It’s worth noting that dogs don’t get motion sickness in the same way that humans do, instead they might feel sick due to excitement or stress at being in the car. So, as well as everything outlined below, it’s a great idea to introduce your dog to car travel as soon as possible, so they see it as normal. Here, we’ll take you through some helpful tips to keep in mind to ensure that you and your pet have the best holiday together, and that they’re kept happy and healthy. 

Keep your dog safe in the car

When getting out on the road, the first thing you should do is establish a safe way of travelling with your dog in your vehicle. It’s actually a legal requirement in the UK that dogs in cars be restrained. There are a few variations on how to do this, and it partly depends on your dog’s temperament. 

If you have a very young, energetic dog or one that finds car journeys scary, it might be better to get them a crate for the journey or spend time locating a vehicle that has a big enough boot space to accommodate them in their own separate area. This can allow you to concentrate on driving, and means the dog can have their own familiar, individual space in your car, with some bedding and a comforting toy. 

If your dog isn’t unduly nervous on car journeys and isn’t likely to be disruptive, they can sit on the back seat and be fastened in with a harness. It’s important not to fasten your dog into the car with a collar and lead as in case of a bump or accident, this can mean the lead pulls on their neck. Check that whatever method you’re using to keep your pooch safe is secure before heading off.

Always carry water and food

Although you might not think you need to take water and food for the planned length of your journey, you should always have it available as you never know when there might be unexpected traffic or other hold-ups. It’s best to be prepared, so take some treats, dry food, water, and dog bowls with you. The drinking water is particularly important as the days are becoming warmer now, and this can lead to dehydration in a car surprisingly easily.

If you’re struggling for space in your car, try investing in a collapsible water bowl, as these fold flat and can easily be added to other luggage. Prioritising keeping your pet hydrated will mean they get to the destination in a much better mood, and much better health! And having food for them will help to make sure the journey doesn’t disrupt their usual meal timetable too much, avoiding digestive issues.

Be mindful of the weather

While the sunshine encourages us to get out into the countryside and might seem like the perfect time for a road trip, when you’re travelling with a pet, these conditions can quickly become too much for them. If the temperature is hot, avoid travelling at all when you can, or ensure that your car is well air conditioned. It’s advisable to test the air conditioning before travelling if you haven’t used it in a while, so that you know that you’ll be able to switch it on when needed.

If travel in hotter conditions is necessary, then you can make it easier on your pet by starting early and completing your travel time in the morning — or by travelling in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky. On the other hand, if you’re planning your route while weather is unpredictable — as it can be in the UK — it’s good to have an alternative route or some ideas for stopping locations at the ready in case driving conditions become unfavourable.

Take breaks in your journey

While it might not seem like a long journey to you, your holiday road trip might be a very long journey for your dog, so work breaks into your driving time for their benefit. Stopping at a service station to allow them to relieve themselves and take them for a little walk to stretch their legs is ideal. 

If you can, try to build in a stop every few hours, or more frequently if your dog is likely to fret in the vehicle — even if your dog is a good traveller and relaxed in the car, you shouldn’t be driving for more than four hours with them without a significant break. When stopping, you should always dispose of waste properly, by using bins specifically provided for dog waste. Taking this time both ensures that your dog doesn’t have any accidents, and that you leave the countryside as you found it when travelling for your holiday.

Share Your Tail Wagging Tips

Taking your dog on a road trip is a great chance for you to enjoy spending time with them and discover new locations and activities together. But when heading out on your trip, you should check that you will be taking them with you safely and keeping them comfortable throughout any long rides. Combine these dog-friendly tips with also conducting routine checks on your car — such as tyre pressure and oil — can help guarantee you a safe and enjoyable trip.


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