The Complete Guide to a Pet-Friendly Summer Trip: Traveling By Car
A pet who is unfamiliar and afraid of the car will be miserable on a long road trip, but fortunately this can be overcome. If you have your heart set on taking them along, start passenger's training at least one month before your actual trip to help your pet feel safe and comfortable traveling. Pets allowed to wander throughout the car while driving are a danger to you and themselves. To ensure their safety, keep them in a travel crate padded with a towel or a blanket for their comfort, and lock it in place with a seat belt. If your pet is unfamiliar with crating, making them comfortable in their crate will be an important first step.
- Start by simply playing with them in the parked car, rewarding their good behavior with treats and praise while you play.
- Once they are comfortable in the crate and car, your pet is ready to ride on short errands. Again, give plenty of praise when they are behaving calmly.
- Continue to take your pet on as many short trips as possible up until the big event - ideally lengthening the drive time over the month. When it's finally vacation time, your pet should be ready.
Just as you wouldn't leave without certain essential items, your pet will need a bag of their own. To ensure your trip runs as smoothly as possible, consider bringing:
- A leash and a collar with ID tags. An additional vacation ID may be good idea. Include the number and address you will be staying at during your trip.
- A photo of your pet in case of separation.
- A travel crate.
- Favorite toys.
- Food and water bowls plus a large container of drinking water from home and plenty of their preferred food and treats. (Don't forget a can opener if needed!)
- A pet bed, towel, pillow or blanket to sleep on.
- Grooming brushes.
- Litter box and additional litter, poo scooper and plastic bags.
- A flashlight for night walks.
- Paper towels or rags for accidents or drying a wet dog.
- Any medications they are prescribed to.
- A Pet First Aid Kit (as well as their medical records, veterinarian's name and phone number, and milk of magnesia or activated charcoal in case of accidental poisoning)
A family road trip can wear on even the most experienced travel bug. These tips will help keep your pet comfortable.
- Before your trip, give everyone's legs a stretch and take a leisurely walk. Let your dog get a little tired so they'll be more likely to sleep on the way.
- Avoid giving them too much water before you go and you'll avoid tummy aches and accidents.
- Pad your pet's travel crate with a towel or blanket and secure it in your car with a seat belt.
- Ensure your pet has plenty of air ventilation.
- Plan to stop every two hours for a short walk and a potty break.
- Even when the weather isn't especially hot, the sun can heat the inside of your car to dangerous temperatures within minutes. Avoid leaving your pet inside the car alone for any length of time if possible. However, if you absolutely must, take these precautions:
- Park in shady area.
- Before you leave, open at least two windows for a cross draft and fill their water bowl with cold water. Many shops sell battery operated fans specifically for crates, kennels, or a partially open window. These will help the car feel even cooler.
- Do not leave your pet there for long intervals of time! Check frequently to ensure they are doing well and the sun has not shifted.
- If your pet is seems dazed and confused, is breathing heavily, or is walking unsteadily, consult a veterinarian immediately! Your pet may be suffering from heat stroke.