This means your dog needs to be fitted with a harness with a seatbelt strap, only sufficiently long to allow the animal to stand, that connects to the seat belt housing in the vehicle, or restricted to a crate. Cats need to travel in their cat carrier.
This prevents pets flying through windscreens if you are involved in an accident or need to break suddenly. Either of these misfortunes can propell your pet through a window by sheer velocity, just as it does for humans, not restrained by a seatbelt
Unrestrained pets can also dangerously distract a driver's attention from the road if they become restless or misbehave whilst the vehicle is in motion.
Front airbags can kill a small dog, either through sheer force, or suffocation when they burst out of their holders in the event of a collision. For this reason, small to middle sized dogs should always travel in the back seat.
It is illegal to carry a dog or cat in the boot of a car.
Drivers failing to restrain their pets can now be fined if stopped by police and penaltys for travelling with an animal in the boot are even more severe
My dog loves car journeys and likes to accompany me to exciting places, such as markets, parks and sometimes even Lygon Street in Carlton or Moonee Ponds. He will happily sit and look at the scenery we pass or simply sleep through longer journeys. My cat was different. He dreaded car trips and I found the only way to ease his apprehension was to sing to him. I made up songs accordingly. One was "we're going to the vets, we're going to the vets, meow meow meow" or Moggy Boy, Moggy Boy, he's a lovely little boy, Moggy Boy, Moggy Boy, he's his mother's pride and joy". I would repeat these tunes until we arrived at our destination.
That was all very well if the destination was close. Once Moggy Boy drove with me between Melbourne and Ballarat. Just because I sang to my cat, doesn't mean I am much of a singer. My point is, I did my best to distract and reassure my darling cat, that all was well and he would be fine. It was a case of me singing , or him caterwailing all the way.
According to Dr Hugh Wirth on Radio 774's Saturday morning pet segment, cats fare best in carriers where they can only see ahead and not above them. It makes them feel way more secure, than in one with wire over the top. If your cat carrier is of the top opening cage variety, pop a towel over the carrier while driving to minimise travel stress!
Whatever it takes to console a reluctant four legged passenger is worth doing, if it prevents high stress situations for either your animal or you.
In the event your pet gets highly agitated and stressed when travelling in a car, your vet can help with sedatives for a long journey, but ideally, travel training should start from when your pet is young. Short journeys to pleasant, non threatening locations are ideal. Take them on school pick ups, for short trips to a park where they can enjoy time on a leash and train them to relax and travel quietly.
Whether you choose a car harness or crate for your dog's safety when travelling get them used to it from the time they first enter your life. Don't leave it until the emergency trip to the vets as your will be placing your pet under additional stress, at a point where keeping them calm and relaxed is a real advantage!
If you are travelling with your pet in the heat of summer, try to make your journey early in the day or in the evening when the temperature is lowest. Stop for drinks a leg stretch and toilet breaks every two to three hours. Avoid travelling in the middle of the day, as heat stress for your animal can be life threatening, and at best distressing. They cannot tell you they are overheating.
Never leave your pet locked unattended in a car on a warm day. As soon as there is some sun cars heat up to three times the outside temperature, turning your car into an oven. Pets left in parked cars in the sun in summer have been known to be dead in well under 15 minutes. If it is not safe for a small child, it is not safe for your animal. To live with the knowledge that through your own negligence you cooked a loyal and devoted animal alive is not something most people would choose to have on their conscience for the rest of their lives!
Even on cool days, if leaving your pet in the car unattended, you should leave windows down a little when the vehicle is parked, to ensure your pet has some air circulation in case the car warms up to an uncomfortable extent.
Many dogs enjoy a chew toy whilst travelling. Way better to chew on something you have provided, than the upholstery of interior of your car.
If your pet travels regularly with you in the car, excellent pet car seat covers can be purchased to protect your upholstery from muddy paws and pet hair. You can find them at auto stores and even bargain style shops.
If I am taking my dog to places where I expect him to maintain an extended drop at a table whilst I enjoy a meal, I take a mat, so he has somethig way more comfortable than cold paving to lie on for an hour or more. So too a portable water container. He really seems to enjoy checking out the action and being on his best behaviour!
He is rewarded with a walk for his patience!
As for my moggy, he was a home body, though I have known a couple of cats, who loved car rides and would accompany their owners for holidays and regular weekends away.