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Travelling Tips

If you are planning a long journey with a pet that hasn't travelled for a while, there are many things that need to be taken into consideration.

Anxiety and stress

To avoid this, try to build up the length of time your pet is in the car slowly. If your pet is completely new to the carstart by introducing them to it whilst stationary. 

Encourage your pet into the car with the doors or boot open and give plenty of positive reinforcement. Repeat this daily until it’s clear they are comfortable with both getting into the car and into the space they will occupy on a journey, whether that’s a fixed crate, a secure and ventilated boot area, or a back seat with a safety belt harness. You could use calming supplements or artificial calming pheromones to help with any stage of this process.

Try starting the engine. Some pets may be startled by this. Take the time, as before, to desensitise them to the engine before commencing your first journey. Repeat and praise as required. Start with short and slower journeys, building up the time spent in the car and not forgetting to give them the experience of a motorway or dual carriageway. Some pets who are very familiar with car journeys can become unsettled when introduced to a motorway; the speed, the other vehicles, and having windows closed can all be a trigger for anxiety, so remember to work this into your regime when building up this process. Only move up with timing, distance, and speed when your pet is comfortable with the stage you are at.

Suitable breaks

Sensible breaks will be required on your journey. Your pet may need to toilet more often. This will also allow dogs to stretch their legs. Offer a drink of water (be sure to prevent escape). Allow them to drink from a shallow bowl of water, to avoid them gulping too much too quickly. We want to encourage them to hydrate but not to vomit the water back up when the journey starts again.


Your dog or cat should not be fed in a moving vehicle, or immediately before the journey. You may need to take longer breaks for meals if your pet needs to be fed regularly. This will usually apply to puppies/kittens or pets with medical conditions.

Car safety

Consider how you will safely restrain your pet, will you use a harness with a seat belt clip, a secured crate in the car, or the boot area with a travel divider? It is important to ensure your pet will be able to stand, sit, and lie down in the area you choose, also making sure they are safe if there is an accident. Is the area well-ventilated? Do not cover crates with blankets or towels, this will limit airflow. 

Plan ahead

Ensure your pet is micro-chipped with registration details up to date and wearing a collar with a name tag engraved or printed with your name and contact details. Also consider having an extra tag with details of your destination or any special numbers, in case of accidents.

Never leave your pet in a hot car, at services, or otherwise. They can very quickly develop heat stroke which can be fatal. 

Ensure your pet receives any prescription medications as normal and make sure you have enough to last your holiday if you are embarking on a long road trip. It is worth scouting out your destination for vets in the area. Having these details to hand will make a stressful situation with sudden illness or injury that bit easier to cope with.

What do you need to pack? Beyond food, bowls, and bedding; what else does your pet need? 

Author: Emma Webb / Posted: May 13th 2024
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