Traveling by car with your dog: what should you plan for and what does the law say?

The dog can travel in the trunk of the car if there is enough space to lie down. (©LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/AdobeStock)

If you plan to go on vacation, or on a long weekend to the Ascension Bridge, with your four-legged friend, you may be wondering if he should must be tied up in the car or if he can move freely in the passenger compartment.

What the law says ?

Alexandre Balzer, veterinarian and president of the Société centrale canine, is affirmative: “No animal should be loose in the car”. Indeed, according to article R 412-1 of the Highway Code, “in traffic, any driver or passenger of a motor vehicle must wear an approved seat belt “. If we consider the animal as a passenger, it must therefore also be attached.

On the other hand, article R412-6 of this same code stipulates that “the possibilities of movement and the driver’s field of vision must not be reduced”, in particular by the number or position of passengers. A dog jumping on the handler’s lap, for example, could thus be considered as driving discomfort.

Added to this injunction is the fact that, in the event of a sudden brake application or accident, the animal risks being projected through the cabin of the vehicle. For your safety and that of all passengers, it is therefore essential to attach your dog when you take to the road.

What equipment to get?

There are in particular lanyards that attach to the clip of the safety belt and which is attached to the dog’s harness: “to the harness rather than to the collar because if it has to pull very hard following a sudden stop or an accident, it is better that it pulls at the level of the shoulders rather than on the neck,” advises the veterinarian.

The transport cages are also an interesting possibility, especially for small dogs. “It’s safer, it will be better held and will be able to move more easily”.

Finally, if you have a station wagon, you can put your dog in the trunk with a net or a separation grid so that he cannot escape. Note that it is obviously forbidden to put an animal in a sedan trunk, without light or ventilation.

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Balancing animal safety and well-being

Article R214-50 of the rural code indicates that “the transport of animals in private cars is carried out under the responsibility of the guide so that the animals have space and ventilation meeting their vital needs”, under pain of a fine provided for contraventions of the 4and classroom.

For Alexandre Balzer, “it’s a matter of common sense. It is up to everyone to assess whether their dog has enough space to move and lie down. If you’re doing 10 or 1,000 km, he obviously won’t need the same comfort. »

It is also necessary to check that the suitcases are stable and that they will not fall on him, which could crush him or scare him, especially if he is small.

Alexander BalzerPresident of the Canine Central

If the car is very loaded with luggage and passengers, it is quite possible to place the dog on the ground, only at the back where he will be better protected, and whether he has enough room to lie down.

Travel sickness

To make the trip as smooth as possible for your dog, plan regular stops every two hours so he can walk, relieve himself and drink. We can possibly offer him some croquettesunless he tends to vomit.

Like humans, dogs can indeed be prone to motion sickness, ranging from simple anxiety to vomiting. In this case, “avoid giving him food before departure. If that’s not enough, there is specific drugs for dogs. »

You can also take a small first aid kit with bandages, eye wash and his health record.

Beware of heatstroke

Another essential point: care must be taken that it does not not too hot in the carwhich can happen if you drive without air conditioning on a very hot day.

Dogs with breathing difficulties will be more sensitive to this rise in temperature: this is the case for brachycephalic dogs – bulldogs and other flat-faced dogs – but also older dogs who may also have more difficulty ventilating, since it It is through ventilation that the dog lowers its internal temperature. If the dog is panting with its tongue hanging out, it means it is hot.

Alexander Balzer

However, there is no question of leaving your dog stick your head out the window, at the risk of receiving a dust or a small pebble in the eye. Ear infections in fridgedue to cold and wind, are also frequent.

For avoid heat stroke, put your dog in the shade and turn on the air conditioning if necessary – without putting it on full to avoid any cooling –; you can also refresh it with a wet towel or a water spray bottle.

And the puppies?

Young dogs are even more sensitive to temperature rise and dehydration than adults. It is therefore important to take regular breaks, keep them cool and often offer them something to drink.

Alexandre Balzer also recommends getting him used to the car beforehand “so that he doesn’t find himself overnight having to drive fifteen hours. You have to show him that it’s a positive experience and it’s nice when you arrive”.

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