Reduce stress and travel sickness
Before starting a journey, make an appointment with the vet to check your dog’s health and prevent any unpleasant surprises. “Your dog should not eat anything at least two hours before setting out. Only give it fresh water to drink and anti-nausea medication to prevent vomiting and travel sickness”, recommends veterinary Dr. Armand Tabernero.
In Spain, for instance, you need a current official health card that has been stamped by a licensed vet. When travelling to a destination within the European Union, you must also carry a valid Pet Animal Passport. Having your pet microchipped is also important in case they get lost or injured in an accident.
Never leave your dog loose in the car
According to traffic regulations, animals must travel securely to ensure they do not interfere with the driver’s abilities or vehicle stability. Dogs cannot be loose in the car, such as on the rear seat, as they could get thrown around violently in the event of an accident and could cause mortal injury, either to themselves or the driver/passengers.
Pet carriers, harnesses or dividers for everyone’s safety
Small dogs can travel in a pet carrier placed on the floor of the rear seat or fastened with the seatbelt. Large dogs can be placed in the luggage compartment with a rigid divider that separates it from the other passengers, and any luggage must be securely fastened. For dogs of any size, there is the option of securing them on the rear seat with a one- or two-point harness that is attached to the seatbelt.
Protective covers for the rear seat and luggage compartment
Dogs usually shed a lot of hair and tend to drool due to the stress of travelling or the heat. Protect your upholstery and keep the seat cushions clean by placing protective covers on the seat and floor of the luggage compartment.
Open the windows, but don’t let your dog stick its head out
While driving, it’s a good idea to open the windows from time to time to ventilate the interior, even though the air-conditioning is on. However, prevent your dog from sticking its head out as that may cause ear or eye infections.
Park in the shade and let everyone stretch their legs
On all trips, and especially in hot weather, it is important to take a rest break at least every two hours so that all the occupants of the car can stretch their legs (or do some ‘car yoga’ to de-stress). It’s a good idea to keep the windows slightly open, and never leave your dog inside the car. The break will be a good time to rest and let your dog drink some water.
A treat when you reach your destination
After a long trip, your dog has to become familiar with its new surroundings, eat something, get some fresh air and play. It’s an appropriate time to reward him with one of his favourite treats for good behaviour.