Pet Travel by Car

Whether your next trip by car is business or pleasure, we’ll cover the basics on pet travel by car to make sure that your ride is a smooth one.

Prior to traveling by car with your pet

Before traveling by car with your pet, make sure they are healthy! Traveling with a sick pet is no fun for the pet or the owner. Make an appointment with your veterinarian and renew any shots that are out of date. We also recommend giving your pet a treatment of flea and tick medication. Keep in mind that there may be parasites at your destination that differ from where you live. Some parts of the country, such as heavily wooded areas, have the possibility of being infested with fleas and ticks. It is also a good idea to familiarize your pet with traveling in the car. A week before your departure, try taking your pet on a series of short trips so that they are able to get used to traveling by car.

A complete checklist of what to bring when traveling by car with your pet

  • Medications. Be sure to pick up any refills of medications your pet will need while away from home.
  • Identification. Make sure your pet’s ID tag is accurate and up-to-date. At minimum, your pet tag should have your pet’s name and a contact phone number of the owner. Additional information such as the owner’s address and emergency contact may be listed as well. As a traveling pet, you might want to add an additional ID tag with information on where you are staying so that if your pet gets away, you are easily accessible.
  • A kennel, carrier, or doggie car seat with a seatbelt. It is unsafe to let your pet ride loose in your car. A kennel or carrier is a safe way for your pet to travel. The kennel or carrier should be well ventilated and large enough to where you pet can fit comfortably. Your pet should be able to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around with ease (an alternative for pets traveling by car can also be a pet car seat belt). A kennel or carrier may also be necessary for pets that will have to stay in a hotel, as to some hotels do not allow pets in hotel room unattended unless it is in a kennel or carrier.
  • Food/water bowls/utensils for opening/scooping. Many stores offer collapsible nylon bowls that are leak-proof and perfect for traveling. Make sure to grab a can opener if your pet eats canned food, and a scoop for easy rationing.
  • Food and water. Bring the food that your pet is used to while traveling. Doing so can help you avoid the dreaded “messy butt” and/or vomiting. We advise that you bring your own water for your own pet. Whatever kind of water you usually give it is fine. Drinking water from a foreign area that your pet is not accustomed to could result in an upset stomach in your pet.
  • Treats! Every good pet deserves a reward (but not too many…too many treats can cause diarrhea).
  • Stain remover/lint roller. Clean up after your pet as much as you can. It’s always good to be prepared for potential accidents!
  • Pet waste bags, or litter box and scoop. To be courteous and clean up after your pet.
  • Pet wipes. Wipes for dogs are a great way to clean up dirty paws, give a coat a quick wipe down, or to clean any unexpected messes.
  • Collar and leash. To make sure your pet gets exercise.
  • Recent photo. In the instance that you become separated from your pet while traveling, a photo will prove to be helpful.
  • First aid kit. For any unexpected ouchies.
  • Pet vaccination records…if traveling across state lines. Various states require this proof at certain interstate crossings. This generally doesn’t tend to be a problem…but it is better to be on the safe side.
  • A touch of home. Bring an item that your pet is familiar with such as it’s favorite blanket or toy. Doing this will give your pet a sense of familiarity.

The DON’TS of traveling by car with your pet.

  • Don’t EVER leave your pet alone in the car!! Even on seemingly cool days, temperatures in a car can quickly cause heat stroke.
  • Don’t…allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window. Doing so can allow for inner ear damage and lung infections. Allowing your pet to ride with its head outside the window also puts your pet at risk of being injured by flying objects.
  • Don’t…forget to stop every 2 or 3 hours to let your pet use the bathroom and stretch its legs.
  • Don’t…forget to give your pet a little extra special attention to make it feel comfortable in its new surroundings.

Upon reaching your destination

Take your furry friend and show them around their home-away-from-home! Make sure to show your pet where you have placed their food, water, bedding, and litter box (if traveling with a cat). 
Don’t be too hard on your pet if they have an accident. Pets in a new surrounding may not understand where the door is or ask to be let outside. Enjoy your time away with your pet! We’re sure you’ll be glad you took them.

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