Travelling with pets is a lot like travelling with children. It can end up being highly frustrating and turning the interior of your car into a disaster zone. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Effective preparation can keep everyone happy during the trip and minimise your clean-up time afterwards. Here, Mudd-E, manufacturers of custom car boot liners, share their inside tips to get you started.
Keep your pet restrained
The main reason for keeping your pet restrained is that it improves safety for everyone in the vehicle including them. Unrestrained pets are vulnerable to the same sorts of risks as humans without seat belts. They also put you at risk of causing an accident.
As a bonus, restraints can help your pet to feel safer in the car. This makes them less likely to have stress reactions such as sickness or accidents. It also helps to keep any mess they make (e.g. hair) corralled into one place.
Small pets are likely to be and feel most secure in carriers or crates. Larger pets can use pet-restraint harnesses (basically seatbelts for pets) if they are on a back seat. You can also use a pet barrier if they are in your boot.
Never have a pet in the front seat even with a restraint. This leaves them way too vulnerable if there is an accident.
Cover your car
Covering your car will protect your upholstery and/or boot interior. It can also help to make your pet feel more secure. If you’re putting your pet on the back seat, you can just put down their favourite blanket. Alternatively, if it’s hot, put down a cooling mat and bring along one of their favourite toys.
If you’re putting your pet in the boot, then a boot cover is a must. Using one makes it far easier to clean up after pets. It can also help to give your pet better grip in the boot. You can enhance your pet’s comfort and security by adding a cooling mat/blanket and a toy.
If you’re already practising fuel/power-efficient driving, then you already have the skills you need to give your pet the sort of journey they’ll appreciate. If you aren’t, then try to adopt the habit. It will help to reduce your fuel bills as well as to make your pet happy.
In brief, you want to avoid sharp acceleration, braking and turns. Instead, you want to increase and decrease speed gradually (decelerate rather than break). You also want to prepare for turns well in advance, so you move into them smoothly.
If you tend to vent, when you’re behind the wheel, focus on staying calm. Work out in advance what you need to do to achieve this. For example, would playing music help?
Again, the more tranquil you can make your journey, the safer your pet will feel. The safer your pet feels, the less chance there is of them being sick or having an accident.
Let your pet get air
Try to keep your car well-ventilated during the trip. If you have to keep the windows closed while you are driving (and don’t have air-con), try to pull over frequently and open the windows. Let the stale air out and fresh air in.
Plan for drink, food and breaks
You can now buy water bowls designed to be used in moving vehicles. These allow your pet to hydrate whenever they wish. On longer trips, remember to allow for both meal breaks and toilet breaks. Some pets (e.g., dogs) will need exercise breaks too. Again, this will keep them comfortable and reduce the risk of sickness or accidents.
Do your post-trip clean-up promptly
If you do all this, cleaning up after your trip should be light work. You may just need to vacuum/brush off pet hair and debris such as dried mud from paws. Mild odours can be dealt with just by ventilating the vehicle. For stronger odours, try using bicarbonate of soda to absorb them and then vacuum it away.