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Drive Safely With Your Family Pet

Advice on travelling with your dog or other pet in the car

Summer is here (yes, it is, that rain is only temporary!) and you've booked your staycation. But there's one more thing to be done - if you want to travel safely with your family dog this holiday, please remember to consider their needs and safety when setting out on a road trip.

Car Safety Accessories For Dogs & Other Pets

We're all used to strapping our seatbelts on when driving, it's become second nature, but what about restraining our pets properly and safely when taking them on board? It's important for your pet and for your other passengers to have your family pet safely restrained.

A pet seatbelt or harness can stop cats and dogs from wandering around in the back seat. A crate or carrier is another alternative, but make sure your pet can stand up, sit down and turn around inside it.

Dog guards placed across the rear luggage compartment are another way of stopping your pet from becoming a distraction whilst you are driving. Animals are unpredictable and a stray dog or cat jumping into the driver's footwell or blocking the view in front or behind could be very dangerous.

Crates and cages in the boot space or secured in the rear seats with the seatbelt can be useful for small animals, but don't ever put them on the front passenger seat as the airbag going off could cause damage.

We have a range of genuine accessories across our brands which can be fully fitted by our technicians to the manufacturer's specifications.

Check out Škoda's pet accessory packs following their sponsorship of Crufts in 2023.

Škoda pet pack accessories for sale

What Is The Law On Safe Pet Travel?

The law, in the form of the Highway Code, states the following:

"Rule 57 - 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."

You could be pulled over for driving without due care and attention if you don't restrain your pet and could get points on your licence.

Remember too that your car insurance and pet insurance can be affected if you do not restrain your pet sufficiently and it causes an accident, or if the pet is injured and needs treatment.

Making Your Car Journey More Comfortable For Your Pet

It's wise to get your pet used to your car from a young age so that they are not afraid of the car and perceive car journeys as a positive thing. Remember that animals can get car-sick as well as humans. Try not to feed your dog immediately before travel. Vets can provide travel sickness medication if necessary.

Just like us, dogs need to stretch their legs and take a break, so factor in a comfort stop for everyone, including your pet, on longer journeys. Take water to give them a refreshing drink and remember to keep them cool with air conditioning or opening windows ajar to keep the temperature bearable during the journey.

Most importantly do remember that pets can overheat very quickly if left in a closed car. There have been several media campaigns to highlight this problem, so do please be vigilant.

Pet dog

A Comfortable Home From Home

When living at home, your pet probably has habits and rules that the family have learned to live with. When travelling in your car, try to keep the same discipline. For example:

  • This is my spot! - try to give your pet their own space in the vehicle that they can become familiar with. Don't keep changing it. Include a familiar blanket, toy or item that they are used to.
  • Secure me safely - there are a couple of options for travel space. It could be the luggage space at the back, so be careful to buy a mesh guard. If travelling in the back seat, use a special harness for the purpose which attaches to the safety belts. Be careful never to attach your pet by the collar.
  • Turn down your tunes - excessive noise can harm a dog's or cat's hearing. Having the radio at full blast is not good for them in a confined space.
  • Protect the upholstery - if you're worried about pet hair, saliva, mud and such, then protective sheeting can be bought that is waterproof, washable and non-slip. This helps with the resale value of the car later and means your pet can be comfortable.
  • Take a break - on a long journey dogs will need a break at least every 2 - 3 hours, some pets may require more frequent stops. When stopping include a short walk, a drink and some food. Don't attempt to feed and drink during the ride.
  • Don't get distracted - animals are animals and if they distract you this can be dangerous. Cats, for example, would be safer in a travel box rather than roaming in the car or on your lap! Think safety.
  • Additional accessories - you might want to equip your car with a durable rubber floor mat in the boot space, or a practical barrier for dividing the interior space. These can be purchased from our parts departments and are made to fit the dimensions of the make and model exactly.
  • Don't forget the home comforts - make a list and keep a travel bag for your pet! Remember to include important documents and medicines, food, pet bowl, water bottle, toys, cleaning agents, poop scoops & bags, blanket and bed.
  • Don't leave an animal in the car - in some countries, locking an animal in a car is illegal. Remember a locked car has no air and gets extremely hot very quickly, even on a cloudy day. Slightly opening a window does not have the desired effect and an animal can quickly overheat. For example, if it is 26 degrees centigrade outside, after 20 minutes inside a car the temperature reaches 42 degrees and after an hour, 50 degrees.
  • No playing! - Small pets travelling on your shoulder, roaming freely inside the car - don't do it! Not only is it distracting and dangerous for all concerned, but the pet can easily be injured during braking, or if an airbag goes off.

ŠKODA's Top Tips For Travelling With A Dog

It's International Dog Day on 26th August and our colleagues at ŠKODA UK have recommended their top tips for driving with a dog in the car.

  • Keep dogs on a lead when getting in and out of a car
  • Securely fasten your dog in the car with a harness or in-car carrier
  • Keep toys, food and water on-hand, for example in the glovebox
  • In-car dog accessories make travelling much more secure and comfortable, such as the ŠKODA rear-seat dog hammock
  • Extras like blankets and dog beds can help to keep a dog calm and relaxed
  • Take regular breaks for fresh air and to allow your dog to stretch their legs (and yourself)
  • Never leave your dog in the car on a warm day, even if you have parked in the shade

Watch the video to see some cute pooches illustrating these points!

ŠKODA have teamed up with BorrowMyDoggy to highlight dog safety.

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Blog first published June 2021, updated July 2022. E&OE.