Pet Holiday Health

Posted on: 28 June 2011 by Gareth Hargreaves

Protect your pet's health when you holiday.

pet health on holiday

Seatbelts and safety

As well as highlighting all the fun things we can do with our pets during the summer months, PDSA's Pet Holiday Health campaign also aims to raise awareness of possible hazards. For pets, like humans, this includes travelling in a car without wearing a seatbelt.

One shocking statistic from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents highlights just how important it is that dogs buckle up. In a crash, an unrestrained pet could not only be seriously injured, but could seriously injure people in the car. 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 the family pet to a boarding house, remember to buckle-up!

For larger dogs, the Pet Essentials range from PDSA Charity Shops includes an easy-to-adjust car safety harness which fits around the dog's chest, back and shoulders and is then clipped in to the car's seat belt.

Before buying a harness

  • Make sure it's designed to be used in a car and is not just a walking harness.
  • Check that it's suitable for your dog's size and weight.
  • Ensure it fits properly with wide straps to distribute the forces safely across your dog's body, particularly the chest and shoulders.

Smaller dogs and other pets should always be safely secured in a well ventilated pet carrier, which has enough room for them to stretch and be comfortable.

According to the Department for Transport, 200,000 car accidents a year occur as a result of distractions within the vehicle, including pets, children and insects.

Cars are not a natural environment for pets, so leading veterinary charity PDSA recommends that pet owners undertake travel training with their pet from an early age.

Getting pets used to the car and accustoming them to the idea that it is not a play area is vital! Pet owners are encouraged to let their pet freely explore the car with the engine turned off. Leave a few savoury treats or the pet's favourite toy in the back seat to help them overcome any initial hesitancy or anxiety.

To ensure a safe journey with your pet, PDSA has published a free guide, PDSA Holiday Health for Pets, which offers advice to pet owners on how to prepare pets for holidays and how to travel them - whether they are going with you, staying at home with a pet-sitter, or going to a kennels or cattery.

Steve Leonard, TV presenter and PDSA Veterinary Surgeon says, "Cars are an alien environment to pets, but by being patient and taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure that a car journey with your pet is safe and enjoyable for all."

Pet owners can also download PDSA PetCasts at for further help and advice.

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