Transporting pets safely

How to

If you’ve got a pet and you’ve got a car, it’s worth considering the options for driving your pet around safely, writes Leana Kell of While there are strict laws on adult and child safety in cars, the regulations for animals are relatively unclear.

The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order states that you must not transport an animal in any way which is likely to cause injury or unnecessary suffering to them - “we recommend that you ensure your dog is both secure and comfortable during transport”, said Jude Clay from the RSPCA.

Guidelines suggest the best way to keep a pet safe in the car is to protect it in a safety secured seatbelt harness, a pet carrier, a cage, or behind a guard. Choosing the safety mechanism that’s best for your pet will depend on their weight and size, and you should measure these first. You must also ensure that your pet has enough room to be able to sit and stand up at full height, turn around easily and lie down in a natural position within the secured area.

To find out which restraint is best for your pet, we''ve listed the options available:

Safety harness

A safety harness is the best choice of restraint for a medium or large sized dog. A harness which attaches to a seatbelt can be fitted around your dog’s chest, back and shoulders, and attached to the car seat belt which is then fastened.


A cage will not only keep a pet safe whilst in transit but it will provide a place in which to sleep and think of as a home from home. Many companies will offer to design and fit a strong metal cage specifically for your car so that, if the car should roll over in an accident, your pet will just be shaken rather than more seriously hurt. Look for a cage which has front and rear access for maximum safety. In a hatchback or estate, the cage can be attached to anchorage points located in the boot.

Pet carrier

A carrier is a good option for smaller pets. You can secure the carrier with a seatbelt or sit it firmly within the footwell. Avoid putting a carrier in the boot of a hatchback or estate car as it could be thrown around in a crash, and never put a carrier in the boot of a saloon car as your pet could suffocate.

Dog guards

A dog guard keeps your pet away from the driver but it doesn’t provide any protection in the event of an accident so is not the best option to ensure the safety of your pet.

 Zip-up bag

If you''ve nothing else, you can use a zip-up bag to transport your pet, for example, if you needed to get it to the vets quickly and had no other option available. Make sure the bag is big enough to hold your pet comfortably and that it is well ventilated.

Entering a vehicle

All pets except dogs should be put inside a carrier before entering a vehicle, and dogs should be kept on a lead. It’s always safer to use the pavement side when putting your pet into a car and never let it jump through the window. In the event of a crash, do not let your pet out of a carrier until it has had time to calm down, or if you think your pet might be injured, call out a vet immediately.

Pets left in cars on hot days

Never leave your pet alone in a hot car. It has been proven that when the temperature outside is 22 deg C, the heat in a car can rise to 47 deg C in just 60 minutes. Although you may think that leaving a window open or a bowl of water may help, it makes little difference and your pet will still suffer. So, if you’re going somewhere which isn’t animal friendly, leave your pet at home – they will have everything they need and be safer there.

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