Dogs Trust

Travelling safely with your dog

For most dog owners, it is inevitable that your pup at one time or another will be a travelling companion, whether it is just a short drive to the park, or for longer journeys away from home.

But, how can you make sure that you and your pup can travel safely together?

Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust Veterinary Director says:

"It's important that when you are travelling with your dog, that they are travelling in a safe and comfortable way. There are many ways in which this can be done, so the journey is a smooth experience for both dog owner and the dog themselves."

Here are Dogs Trust's top tips on travelling safely with your dog:

  • Make sure your dog is secure and comfortable on a journey for their own safety and so they cannot distract you - they should be fitted with a correctly sized harness or within a travelling crate or container
  • Never leave your dog alone in the car - even if it seems cool outside it can become very hot very quickly. Parking in the shade and / or keeping the windows down does not make it safe!
  • Make sure you keep your dog as cool as possible when driving: avoid travelling during the heat of the day, use sun blinds on the windows and consider opening a window a little to allow a cooling breeze to circulate in the vehicle
  • Make sure you have a supply of water and know where you can stop off on route for water breaks. Dogs are not able to cool down as effectively as humans so could suffer from heat stroke and dehydration very quickly
  • Allow your dog to become familiar with car journeys by ensuring they have positive experiences over a number of short trips before embarking on a long journey
  • Plan your journey time and route carefully as you'll need to stop at regular intervals to exercise your dog
  • Consider your pup with regards to your destination. Busy environments, such as bustling city centres or loud carnivals and public events are not always suitable for dogs as they can get distressed
  • Feed your dog no sooner than two hours before a long journey to ensure he does not have a full stomach when travelling
  • Take a supply of your dog's usual food in the event that you get stuck in traffic or breakdown
  • Keep the dog's harness and lead close to hand in case you need to get out of the vehicle
  • Dogs Trust advises that owners shouldn't allow their dog to hang their head out of the window whilst they are moving as this could be potentially dangerous for the dog, and distracting for the owner
  • If you see a distressed dog in a vehicle please call 999, or either the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or the Scottish SPCA on 03000 999 999