Driving with dogs

Driving with dogs: a guide to dog car travel

There may be some things you don’t know about driving with your dog in the car, especially when it comes to safety!

We have some shocking statistics and some advice to help you and your pooch when you’re out on the road together.

Think about it: we wouldn’t even dream of putting our children in the boot of our car when heading out for a drive, nor would we sit them down without a fastened seatbelt, and yet somehow, lots of owners across the UK do this with their dogs.

Dog car travel: did you know?

  • 34% of drivers don’t use a dog car seat when out on the road with their furry friend. That’s over a third of dogs travelling in a dangerous manner!
  • 1 in every 10 drivers let their dog sit in the front passenger seat. 
  • Transporting your pet without a dog car seat, seat belt, harness or crate could lead to 9 points on your license. 
  • Transporting your pet without a dog car seat, seat belt, harness or crate can also lead to a fine of up to £2,500!
  • 64% of drivers are unaware of fact 4.
  • Driving your dog without a car seat or seat belt can invalidate your car insurance.

How to keep your dog safe while driving

Become an expert in dog car travel by following our 4 simple rules: 

Use a suitable restraint

Suitable restraints include a dog car seat, dog seat belt, dog car harness or crate. Unsuitable restraints include cardboard boxes, leads (or anything tied around their neck) and holding your dog in your lap.

Don’t let them hang their head out of the window

Again, you wouldn’t do this yourself and you certainly wouldn’t let your children do it, so why is it safe for your dog to do it? Crack the window open by all means – keeping your dog nice and cool is very important, just make sure the window isn’t open wide enough for your dog to stick their head out or worse, jump out altogether.

Beware of the sun

Even when securely strapped into their harness or car seat, your dog might still be unsafe if they’re in danger of dehydration. They could overheat very quickly in a car – even with the window cracked open (see previous point) and the help of air conditioning.

To help keep them cool and comfortable, consider fitting your car windows with sunshades to lessen the impact of the sun. Supply them with plenty of water and if you’re taking a long journey, make sure you stop often to let your dog have a break.

Don’t leave your dog alone in the car

Make sure that when you leave the car, your dog does too – even if it’s just to pop to the shops! Hot and cold cars can be detrimental to your dog’s health, and leaving the window open does not have a valid impact on the overall temperature. No matter the length of time, leaving your dog alone in the car is a risk you should never take!

Need more info?

If you need further advice on dog car travel or need more information on keeping your dog safe, have a chat with your vet. To find your nearest vet, use our handy Find a Vet page.