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PDSA Issues 'Five R's' to Help Owners and their Pooches this Bank Holiday

Posted on Saturday, 24 August 2013 10:10AM by


With another stretch of warm weather predicted, as well as record numbers of people expected to take ‘staycations’ this bank holiday weekend, PDSA has issued advice to help pets avoid a ruff ride.
The vet charity has released the Bark & Ride code for owners who will be holidaying with their hounds to help ensure a paw-fect trip when travelling in the car. PDSA’s advice is based on the Five Rs:

  • Routine
  • Restrain
  • Relax
  • Refuel (your pet that is!)
  • Responsibility
Routine: It is very important to get your pet into a good travel routine.Getting pets used to the car and accustomed to the idea that it is not a play area is vital. If an animal isn’t used to car travel the whole experience can be very daunting, so owners are encouraged to let their pet freely explore the car with the engine turned off in a safe area. Once your pet feels happy, start with the first short car journey and reward your pet with a walk or games so that they learn to associate cars with fun. If a pet isn’t used to car travel, fear can become a real problem and can lead to travel sickness. It’s also important that owners recognise the first signs of travel sickness, such as excessive yawning and salivating.
Restrain your pet properly. Always secure pets with a car safety harness or pet carrier – this will prevent any distractions and will also help keep you, any passengers, and your pet safe from harm in the event of an accident. An unrestrained animal in a car is extremely dangerous. For example, at 30 mph, a 50lb (22.5kg) Border Collie would be thrown forward with a force equivalent to a polar bear! So, whether driving to a park to take your dog for a long walk, travelling to the seaside for a weekend break or transporting your family pet to a boarding house, remember to buckle-up!
PDSA Senior Vet Elaine Pendlebury said: “Having a pet on the loose in the car is a recipe for disaster. I have lost count of the amount of times I have seen dogs sat up front with their owners or hanging their head out of the car window. I’ve even seen a driver with a cat draped round their neck!  While this might seem like a bit of fun, the consequences for drivers, pedestrians and the pets could be fatal if there’s an accident.”
Relax. If you’re relaxed your pet is much more likely to stay calm; pets will pick up on your anxiety, so talk to your pet in a soft voice and reassure them. If your pet likes music, playing some soft tunes could be a useful way to help them enjoy the travel. Packing your pet’s favourite blanket and toys can also help them to feel at ease.  Your vet can also offer advice about calming a pet.  
Refuel your pet. Make sure you have plenty of water onboard. Traffic jams are an unfortunate by-product of bank holiday and summer car travel, so it is vital that you have plenty of supplies to hand to keep your pet happy and well hydrated.  There are many water bowls suitable for travel that you can buy from pet shops and it’s important to bring along plenty of fluid.  Remember not to let your cat out of the car as they may quickly run away and dogs should always be on a lead – they may not know where they are and can get confused.
Responsibility. As the owner of a pet you have overall responsibility for its health and welfare, and when travelling with them in the car, you should be prepared for all eventualities. Give dogs a long walk before you travel to run off any extra energy, and make regular stops on the lead so they have a chance to stretch their legs and refresh themselves. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the temperature too – if you feel hot then your pet will be feeling even hotter!
Elaine continued: “It goes without saying that pets should never, ever be left in a car – even for just a few minutes. The temperature inside can soar very quickly to dangerously high levels and could result in heatstroke, which can prove fatal.”
It’s also important to understand that a car isn’t a natural environment for our furry companions; pets are very sensitive to movement so it’s important that the motion of the car remains as consistent as possible.
“Preparation and common sense are key when your pet travels in the car with you. As a treasured member of the family, your furry friend deserves to enjoy a happy and safe journey too,” adds Elaine.
You can download this information plus other useful pet travel and holiday tips from the PDSA website


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