There are probably more than one or two occasions when your pet, be it a dog, cat, rabbit, etc. has to accompany you on a car journey. Whether it’s to go to a vet’s appointment, to go on an adventure together…
Do you know how dogs, cats or other pets should travel and be transported in your car?
Your pet can be your perfect travel companion… but for your safety and theirs, not in any way.
In this article, we analyse the main recommendations of the DGT and the regulations on how to travel with a dog in a car or other pet and find out about the restraint systems available, as well as the best tips for a safe journey.
The regulations for travelling with pets in the car
The Road Traffic Act does not specifically stipulate how pets should travel in the vehicle. That is to say: there is still no law as such that deals with the transport of pets. However, Article 18.1 of the General Road Traffic Regulations states that the driver of the car must “maintain his own freedom of movement, the necessary field of vision and permanent attention to driving”. To this end, both the driver and the other passengers, animals and objects must maintain the appropriate position so that there is no interference between the driver and any of them.
Therefore, when transporting animals in a vehicle, it is essential to always carry their documentation and to be securely fastened to the vehicle to prevent them from interfering with driving.
Restraint systems for carrying pets in the car
Having doubts about how to travel with a dog in a car, cat or other pet is logical and normal.
The key is in the choice of the device, whether harnesses, carriers, etc. to transport it.
The central idea is that the safety systems most recommended by the DGT are harnesses with two hooks and carriers in the boot and on the floor of the vehicle. But it is important to know which animal restraint systems are available to fit in the vehicle, which are recommended and which should be avoided at all costs. It all depends on the size and type of animal.
- Loose animal: This is the worst-case scenario, as the animal will be thrown against the driver’s head restraint if there is an accident and can interfere with driving if it is constantly moving.
- Single-hook harness: The harness attaches to the vehicle’s seat belt, but in the event of a collision, the harness buckle breaks, causing the animal to crash into the back of the seat.
- Two-point harness: The harness prevents forward displacement and no load is transmitted to the driver. To prevent the pet from bumping into the seats, they should have a short attachment system.
- Carrier fastened with the seat belt: This is also not recommended because the carrier destroys the fastening points of the seat belt, breaking the top of the belt.
- Carrier placed on the floor of the vehicle: Small carriers usually fit well on the floor. The energy of the impact is soon absorbed and the animal’s passenger compartment is hardly deformed and only suffers minor injuries.
- Carrier in the luggage compartment: If the animal and carrier are larger, they can be placed in the luggage compartment across the direction of travel.
- Dividing grille: A grille placed between the pillars of the car structure, separating the cabin from the boot, allows the pet to move freely without disturbing the driver, but in the event of a collision and depending on the position of the animal at that moment, it can suffer very serious injuries. The safest and most recommended are those that are mounted from the roof of the vehicle to the floor of the boot. Ideally, the carrier should be combined with the partition grid.
Recommendations for transporting our pets
The safest way to transport your pet in the car is in its carrier.
If the pet is small, place the carrier on the floor of the vehicle, behind the front seats. If the pet, usually a dog, is larger and heavier, it is safest to travel in the carrier inside the boot (in a transverse position to the direction of travel), combining this option with a dividing grille from the roof of the vehicle to the floor of the boot.
The single-point harness should always be avoided as it is fragile and the carabiner can break with a dog weighing around 22 kg.
The leash is also to be avoided at all costs, so double-hook harnesses, which will hold much more of the animal’s weight, are our best asset.
Tips for travelling with pets by car
Whether you need to travel with your dog in the car or with your cat(s), it is very important to follow these tips:
- Never travel with a loose animal in the vehicle and choose a suitable restraint system.
- Do not place objects next to the animal.
- Control the animal at rest stops.
- Never leave the animal inside the vehicle in high temperatures and ensure adequate ventilation at all times. Beware of heat stroke inside the vehicle.
- Stop every two hours to allow the animal to urinate, defecate, rest, walk and hydrate.
- Control possible dizziness. It is preferable not to feed or drink in the hours before the journey, and even medicate the animal beforehand.
- Get the animal used to the restraint system, especially if, for example, you are planning a long car journey with a cat or dog.
- Never hold the animal on its leash, because it is not a restraint system and carries a lot of risk.
- Don’t forget to include your pet in a travel insurance policy.
If you don’t want to be disappointed, make sure that your pet is included when you take out travel insurance. In case of renting a car in Malaga, we will inform you at all times of how this process works.
What do we do wrong when we travel by car with pets?
Or rather: which tips for travelling by car with your pet you do not follow properly. Because we often make mistakes when travelling with pets in the car, mistakes that can cost us dearly in the event of an accident, or in the form of a financial penalty from the DGT.
That’s why Yellowcar summarises the five most common mistakes when transporting pets in the car:
- Carrying the pet without the necessary restraint: Protection is essential, as in the event of an accident or sudden braking, the pet would be thrown off, developing projection forces equivalent to 40 times its weight. On the other hand, keeping the dog on a leash with a collar is very dangerous, as a jolt can have a fatal outcome. Moreover, in the event of an accident, insurance companies may be inhibited if pets are loose in the vehicle.
- Transporting the animal incorrectly, thinking that it is safe: As we said, it is crucial to choose the safest device for each type of pet. A determining factor is that they should always be in the back, never in the passenger seat.
- Forget about fines: The penalty for not carrying your pet in the right position and with the relevant protection systems can range between €100 and €200, depending on how the animal is travelling. If it is done negligently and depending on the consideration of a traffic officer, the fine can amount to 500 € and 6 points on the driving licence.
- A stop on the journey is compulsory: Pets also need to stretch, get out of the car to walk, drink, relieve themselves… For this reason, we must make stops at rest areas along our journey.
- Leave it inside the car at stops: The temperature of a car parked in the sun increases exponentially, so the pet can suffer from heat stroke.
Now that you know the best way to travel with your pet and ensure their safety (and your peace of mind), it’s time to choose the type of car you need to hire to prepare for your trip.