Even if it’s just a quick visit to the vet, taking your pet along for the ride in the car can be a less-than-relaxing experience. Now add moving house into the equation and you could be in for a stressful journey. Fear not, though – here are our top tips for transporting your pet in the car.
If you’ve got a dog, chances are you’re well used to the shedding, extra toilet breaks and permeating smell of dog treats that accompanies a trip in the car with your four-legged friend. One of the many, many great things about dogs is that they can be trained to see a car journey as an exciting thing – so if you know you’re going to move house soon, try to get your dog used to being in the car as early as you can.
First of all, make sure your dog is secure, in line with the law. In the UK, your dog needs to be “suitably restrained” while in a vehicle or you could be fined. Your dog should always be wearing a collar or harness with its identity tag, and fastened securely either with a seatbelt attached to their harness, or in a car-safe crate in the back of the car.
Make sure your dog always has access to water – some smaller dogs have been known to drink from rodent water bottles attached to their crate! If your dog is a messy drinker, make sure you stop every few hours to give them a bowl of water and a handful of food to keep them going throughout the journey. Avoid over-feeding – some dogs can get car-sick, with inevitable results!
Like with small children, dogs need to stretch their legs and use the bathroom more often than adults on a long journey, so factor this into your moving plan. Aim to stop at a few service stations along the way to let your furry friend stretch their legs and get some fresh air before the next leg of the journey.
If your dog is nervous in the car, speak to your vet to see if they can prescribe anything to help. Dogs can feel car-sick, but with the right medication they should be able to relax on the journey and look forward to a nice long walk at the other end!
Cats are generally more fussy than dogs, as we’re sure any cat owner will tell you! It’s important for your cat to feel comfortable in the car, or you’ll all know about it for weeks to come once you’ve moved into your new home.
We recommend getting the cat used to the car slowly, and with the aid of something that holds your cat’s scent, like a blanket or soft basket. Your cat will need to travel in a pet carrier or crate, so leave this item in the cat’s space for a few days so they’ll get used to it.
When loading your cat into the car, try to create a quiet, calm atmosphere – your cat will pick up on stress or panic, and this can be counterproductive for a safe and smooth journey! Try to cover the crate or carrier with a blanket, creating a safe, dark environment for your cat to relax in on the way.
Again, you’ll need to stop a few times to let your cat eat and drink – but don’t let it out of the carrier. Cats are territory-driven, and if they escape the car they might flee down the motorway in search of their old home. Feed and water them calmly inside their crate or carrier.
If your cat is nervous, or you know they’re a bad traveller, speak to your vet about medication that could help your cat relax on the journey to their new home.
Small animals are generally fairly easy to transport if you’re making a move to a new home. Tiny animals like hamsters, mice or rats can be safely transported inside a plastic pet carrier. Avoid anything cardboard because these little furries can and will chew straight through a cardboard box!
Use a seatbelt to secure the carrier in place in the car. This makes it less likely that your little one will slide around inside the carrier, which could frighten them. For tiny rodents, make sure they’ve got some dry food and a treat – whether that’s some fresh fruit or vegetables, or a special treat from the pet shop – to keep them going on the journey. If you’ve got a plastic or metal carrier, you can attach their regular water bottle to the wire so they’ve got easy access to a drink.
Larger rodents, like guinea pigs or rabbits, can become very nervous in the car. Try a couple of test-runs first to see how your pet travels and help them get used to their new surroundings. Again, make sure they have some tasty treats nearby to distract them from the journey, and always make sure they have access to water.
Small animals can suffer in extreme temperatures, so make sure the inside of your car isn’t too hot or too cold. Opening a window or covering the carrier with a warm blanket can make your pet’s journey a lot smoother.
Travelling with your pets doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. If you’re worried, speak to your vet before you travel, as they can sometimes prescribe medication to help with issues like nerves or car sickness. Your pet is a member of your family, so their journey to their new home should be as stress-free as possible.