dog in carrier

Tips for travelling with pets

Tips for travelling with pets

What is your top choice of holiday destination? UK staycations are a very popular choice but maybe you would prefer something further afield. In this article, we will look at how to make travelling with pets as stress-free as possible for all concerned, whatever your holiday preference.

How should I restrain my pet in the car?

Wherever you are going, most journeys with your pet will start in the car. Before setting out on any road trip, however short, make sure that you have a safe, secure, and comfortable means of restraining your pet. Not only is this necessary for the safety of your four-legged friend but did you know that you may be breaking the law if you have not restrained your dog appropriately? Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that ’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.’
So, what are the options?

  1. Pet harness

Doggy harnesses use your car’s seat belts to strap your dog in keeping them safe and secure.
Travel tip: Never let your dog stick their head out of open car windows as serious injuries can result!

  1. Dog guard

Dog guards sit between the rear seats of your car and the boot space. They are great at keeping you and your human passengers safe, although in the event of a sudden stop or accident may not be as effective as some of the other car restraints at reducing risk of injury to your pet. Check out Pet Brands RAC Cargo Guard - Accessories - Dogs ( which is easy to install in most cars.

  1. Pet carrier

Small and manoeuvrable, these are perfect for smaller pooches and for cats. They are not as sturdy as metal crates but are easier to carry. How about RAC Pet Carrier - Medium - 49x32x32cm - Accessories - Dogs ( which is lightweight and easy to clean. Make sure you put the pet carrier in a secure location in your car so that it can’t slip off a seat for example.

  1. Pet crate

Crates are generally metal and of a sturdy construction. If your dog is used to using a crate at home these are a particularly good option.
Travel tip: Remember to turn off the passenger airbag if your dog or cat is restrained on the front seat!

Planning your journey

Before you leave make sure that your pet is in tip-top form and ready for their adventure.
  • Keep their routine as close as possible to normal.
  • Exercise to burn off some excess energy and enthusiasm is a good idea especially for young and very active dogs.
  • Feed a light meal only before your trip. If your pet is inclined to be travel sick it is best not to feed them for two to three hours prior to travel.
  • Pack your dog’s bag with all that they need – a bed or mat to lie on in the car, some doggy snacks, their lead, and anything else they may need for a doggy day trip!
  • Don’t forget fresh water and a bowl. The RAC Travel Water Bottle ( is perfect for taking on car journeys.

A boot liner is a useful addition to your equipment list to keep your car spick and span. The RAC Advanced Boot Protector - Accessories - Dogs ( is ideal to protect from any doggy mishaps or for those pets that like to travel in style how about a seat protector such as RAC Advanced Car Seat Cover - Accessories - Dogs (

On the move
Check your route before you leave and if your journey is going to be more than an hour or so, plan some good pet-friendly stops on your route. Ideally find places where your pet can safely stretch their legs and go to the toilet and remember to offer them fresh water to drink.

What about travel in hot weather?
In hot weather it may be best to leave your pet at home but if you are taking it on holiday that is unlikely to be an option.
Once you are on the road, turn on the air conditioning to keep everyone cool. A breeze from open windows can be just as effective but make sure your dog can’t pop an inquisitive nose or paw out of the window!
Frequent stops to offer water are even more important as temperatures rise.
How to keep dogs cool, top tips for the summer
Travel tip: In warm weather, never leave your pet unattended in your car!

My dog doesn’t like the car, what should I do?
Some dogs bound into the car with unbridled joy, others are not so keen. So, what should you do if your pooch falls into the latter group? The key to solving a dislike of cars is to start young. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it is much easier if you start when they are pups!

  • Get your pooch used to the car when it is stationary, try feeding them a favourite snack while in the car or just give them lots of fuss.
  • Progress to frequent short journeys to somewhere fun, maybe a new and exciting walk.
  • You can try longer trips once your dog is a calm, confident passenger!
  • Be patient! It can take some time for car journeys to be fun for all.
  • Get advice from your vet or a qualified pet behaviourist if your pet remains anxious or is very travel sick.
Health advice for travelling with pets UK
Before you travel make sure that your pet has everything they need for their holiday. If they are on long-term medication, ensure that you have sufficient to last until you return home.
Routine preventative health care is also important:
  • Flea and tick treatment
Certain parts of the UK have a higher incidence of ticks than others. For example, anywhere with woodland or a large local sheep or deer population will have them in abundance. Ticks are small parasites that feed on blood, feasting on both humans and pets alike. Not only are they a nuisance, they can also spread nasty infections such as Lyme disease. For more information on Lyme disease check out our article: Lyme Disease in Dogs / Petwell Blog
Make sure that your pet is protected with a safe and effective flea and tick product such as Frontline.
  • Vaccinations
Keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date is important. On their doggy holidays, they may mix with more dogs from a wider area increasing the risk of exposure to infection. Check with your vet if you are not sure if your pet is up to date!
Taking my dog abroad on holiday, what do I need to do?
If you are thinking of travelling outside the UK, you will need to plan well in advance to make sure you have all you need in place. The Defra website is a good place to start for pet travel outside the UK:
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs - GOV.UK (

What are the main requirements for travel to the EU?
  • Microchip – your pet must be microchipped.
  • Rabies vaccination – your pet’s rabies vaccinations must be up to date and must be given no later than 21 days before your departure date.
  • Animal Health Certificate (AHC) – a vet will need to issue an AHC within 10 days of your departure date. Contact them in plenty of time so that they can get the paperwork in place.
Being able to travel again is wonderful news for us, and with some forward planning, great news for the four-legged members of your household too.
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