Pets in the car

Pets in the car

Do you drive with your pet often? Dogs in particular are often taken in the car – whether on vacation, on day trips or to go on walks. Cats, small animals and birds are most often on board on the way to the veterinarian. Either way: You need a good plan for the trip so that you and your pet are as comfortable as possible.
Dogs and cats generally accompany their owners most often during car rides. In order to avoid stress for people or pets, you need to consider how to accommodate your four-legged friends in the car and how to plan your trips. In addition to a good atmosphere, safety and legal regulations are the most important.

Safety first

You may consider your pet a member of your family. The lawmaker has a more dispassionate perspective. According to the Swiss Road Traffic Act, they are still considered freight. According to the regulation, cargo "must be placed so that it does not endanger or bother anyone and cannot fall down." This makes it clear that pets must not cause significant disruptions or hinder the person steering the vehicle. Every pet owner can decide for themselves how they want to implement this directive within the scope of the animal protection act.

Carrier or belt?

Your dog doesn't always need to sit in a carrier in your trunk. Specialty stores also offer safety belts and dog seats for back seats. That is why it is a good idea to get advice that takes the individual temperament of the animal into account. In contrast to dogs, cats tend to move around cars during trips. This can significantly disturb drivers and is dangerous in traffic, and it can also be fined by the police. That is why Garfield or Mimi is safest in a cat carrier that you can easily fit in the foot well between your front and back seats. This is also a good and safe place to position cages for small animals and birds. 
Give your animal passengers a chance to get used to their carrier before the trip. Doing so reduces the danger of pets, and cats in particular, panicking as soon as you take out their carrier, which can certainly delay your departure.

Caution – unsecured animals can be very dangerous

As strange as this may sound – animals in a car can be very dangerous for passengers. If a car crashes into an obstacle at a speed of 50 km/h, a 20 kg dog that is not secured flies like a projectile through the interior of the vehicle with a force exceeding of around 300 kg. You don't need a great imagination to envision the effects this can have on passengers. That is why it is very important to situate animals safely. A separation grid or net between the loading zone and the passenger area reduces the risk of "flying dogs". You should also observe these safety measures during short trips.

An animal is also "only human"

Every 1 to 1.5 hours, it is a good idea to make a stop so pets can move, relieve themselves, and eat and drink something. Animal food, water, and a food bowl should be part of your travel luggage. And of course you need enough treats so you can calm and reward your dog or cat. Drive defensively to avoid abrupt breaking and acceleration maneuvers that stress your pet even more. If your animal still behaves unusually, however, you should stop immediately and find out why.

Leaving animals in the car – a "hot" topic

A quite literally hot topic is leaving animals in the car. It may be pleasant or mild outside, but car temperatures can nevertheless increase rapidly and considerably when the sun shines. Even a slightly opened side window provides only limited relief. Heat in cars proves to be fatal for animals time and again. They can suffer a lethal heatstroke within even a matter of minutes. Not only is that painful for the pet owner personally, it could lead to legal consequences for them. This is because pets are also covered by the animal protection act when they are on the move.

Apropos coverage:

Apropos coverage: At Zurich, pets in the car or motor home are also insured through the partial casco of the car insurance via the additional "transported items" coverage. If you are injured in an accident, the insurance pays the medical expenses – up to CHF 5000 per event.

Other countries, other laws

If you travel abroad with your pet, you should find out early which regulations apply in the country in question. For instance, some dog breeds are not allowed to enter Denmark. In any case, you should bring along a vaccination card for every animal accompanying you and clarify whether your pet needs to be vaccinated against only rabies or against other diseases as well.
Whether you are just going to the grocery store or taking a vacation abroad, ask yourself every time whether the trip is also appropriate for your pet. Some four-legged friends are real globetrotters, but some would spend the time much more relaxed with a nice neighbor, with a kind cat-sitter, or if need be in a good pet boarding facility. That will take care of all your worries on the road, and it might even be an exciting change of pace for your dog or cat.

Traveling well and safely with pets

  • Securely place your animal passenger in your car. Take advantage of the variety of securing systems like animal carriers, safety belts, dog seats, and separating systems.
  • If you travel across country borders, you need to take your pet's vaccination card along.
  • Inform yourself about entry and transportation requirements in your countries of travel and passage.
  • Take frequent breaks during your journey so your dog can move about and relieve itself.
  • Give your pet its favorite treat now and then to reward it during longer trips.
  • Bring your pet's favorite blanket and toy along, because familiarity reduces stress.
  • Drive prudently – if you drive calmly, that also limits the stress level for your pet.
  • Never leave your pet in the car if the sun is shining.
  • Even for short distances, find a safe place for your animal in the vehicle.
  • Bear in mind that in the event of an accident, your insurance benefits may be reduced due to gross negligence if animals are not properly secured.

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