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Driving with pets

Driving with pets

Did you know there are laws on driving with pets? Break them and you could land yourself with a £5,000 fine. But don’t worry, our guide will tell you everything you need to know about driving with dogs and cats.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 14 JANUARY 2020

How to keep your pet safe in the car

Whether you’re planning a short trip to the vets or a UK staycation, you’ll need to safely transport your cat or dog in your car. Here’s how to do it:

  • Buy a crate or carrier that keeps your pet safely contained. It needs to be well-ventilated and big enough for your pet to stand up and turn around. 
  • Alternatively buy a harness, dog guard or dog cage to keep your dog secure.
  • Never, ever leave your pet in a hot car. Many people assume it’s okay if the car is parked in the shade, but it’s actually extremely dangerous. When it’s 22 degrees outside, the inside of a car can quickly reach 47 degrees. 
  • Don’t forget your pet’s supplies – that means food, bowl, lead, poo bags and any medication. 
  • Don’t let your pet hang his head out of the window. Not only is it dangerous, it’s against the law.  
  • If you’re going to be away from home, make sure your pet is microchipped and wears an ID tag. That way if he does get lost, you maximise your chances of being reunited.
  • Don’t forget to make regular stops so your pet can stretch his legs. Motorway service stations often have grassy areas where you can do this.

Laws on driving with dogs in the car

Lots of people drive with their dogs in the car, but did you know there are laws on transporting dogs in cars? If your pet isn’t secured with a restraint, you could be liable for a fine of up to £5,000.

A dog guard, cage, carrier or harness are all fine, but if you let your dog distract you by wandering around the car unrestrained, you could get a £100 fine for driving without due care and attention – as well as penalty points on your licence. And if you’ve caused an accident or endangered other drivers or pedestrians, the fine could be as much as £5,000.

Plus, if your pet isn’t restrained and causes an accident, you may find that your insurance provider refuses to pay out. 

Here’s what the Highway Code says about driving with pets in the car: 

‘When in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.

A seat-belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.’ 

A guide to taking pets abroad

Planning on driving your dog or cat to Europe? Here’s what you need to know. 

  • Your dog needs to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies and tapeworm – that’s the law. For full details, check the gov.uk website. 
  • You’ll also need a pet passport. You can pick this up from your vet.
  • Ferry companies like Brittany Ferries have a PETS Travel Scheme, which means you can take your dog to France or Spain.
  • Driving your pet to France? You’ll have to go via ferry or Eurotunnel. Pets need to stay in the car during the crossing, but can walk around the pet area. Unfortunately, only guide dogs are allowed on the Eurostar.
  • If your pet gets anxious in the car and you don’t want to drive them yourself, there are companies that specialise in transporting animals door-to-door throughout Europe.

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