FEATURED POST BY TRIPSWITHPETS.COM
Many pets love a road trip almost as much as their parents. But before you load up your dog and head off into the distance, make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for a long car trip with your pet. We’ve compiled some comprehensive, road-tested tips on what to do before you go, as well as how to manage along the way.
Prepping for your Trip
- Get a Healthy Start: There’s no guarantee your pet won’t get sick during travel. But you can make sure he’s as healthy as possible before you head out. This means a quick trip to the vet for a thorough checkup. Your vet can also ensure that your pet is well enough for travel, up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations, and has a full supply of any medications he made need.
- If you’re planning to travel across state lines, you’ll need to ask your veterinarian to provide you with a health certificate for your pet. A number of states do require them; even if the state you’re headed to doesn’t, you may have to pass through states that do.
If you plan to travel from the U.S. to Canada with your pet, you’ll need to have a veterinarian certificate on hand that clearly identifies your pet and certifies that he has been vaccinated against rabies at some point within the previous 36 months. Be sure to contact the government of any Canadian province you plan to visit – each province has its own pet requirements and regulations.
- Plan for Securing your Pet: Have a plan in place for keeping your pet safely, securely and comfortably restrained in your vehicle during the trip. This is a critical part of pet travel that many pet parents fail to take seriously enough. Tragically, hundreds of pets are injured or even killed each year because their caretakers allowed them to roam free in a vehicle. There’s also the very real possibility that a roaming pet could distract a driver, causing an accident that leads to property damage, injury, or even death for the vehicle’s occupants. There are a number of great pet restraint products available, including vehicle pet barriers, pet seat belts, pet car seats, and pet travel crates.
Whichever method you choose, it’s important that you help your pet adapt to it – at his pace – in the weeks or months before traveling. Doing so will ensure that he’s as comfortable as he is safe.
- Temporary ID Tag: This is an important, though often overlooked pet travel tip. Unfortunately, pets do occasionally run off during travel. But if you’re well-prepared, that story doesn’t have to have a sad ending. Bringing a temporary identification tag and a current photo of your pet on your trip can help facilitate his safe return. Secure the temporary ID tag to your pet’s collar alongside his permanent tag. Make sure to include the address and phone number of your accommodations, as well as your cell phone number and an email address so that you can be easily reached in more than one way. It is also recommended to microchip your pet. A current photo of your pet will make it much easier for others to clearly identify him so they can help you find him.
- Packing Essentials: Always pack an ample supply of your pet’s food. Don’t depend on stopping along the way or at your final destination to grab some food at a local supermarket or pet store. Your pet’s specific brand of food may not be available at every locale, and introducing your pet to a new brand of food during travel can be problematic. Aside from food, be sure to provide your pet with plenty of water to drink throughout the trip.Other essentials on your packing list should include collapsible travel food and water bowls; comfortable bedding; litter and a litter box; a leash; a collar with appropriate tags; a few favorite toys; some basic grooming supplies; a first-aid kit for pets, and any medications your pet might need.
- Book Your Pet Friendly Accommodations: If you’re planning a long road trip that requires one or more en-route overnight hotel stays, you’ll need to secure pet friendly accommodations before you travel. Map out your trip, find the most convenient locations to spend the night, and arrange for lodging ahead of time. To make the process much easier, TripsWithPets.com’s Search By Route option allows you to input your starting and final destinations, and find pet friendly accommodations along your preferred route.
- Medical Records: Medical emergencies can happen, and it’s best to be prepared. Be sure to bring your pet’s medical records, along with your vet’s contact information, in case he or she is needed for consultation.
Hitting the Road
- Keep All Heads Inside the Window: For many pets, riding with their heads out the window is the best part of any road trip. While it may be enjoyable, it’s an unsafe thing to do, as your pet can easily be injured by passing objects or flying debris. Also, NEVER allow your pet to ride in the back of a pickup truck. It’s highly dangerous, and it’s even illegal in some states.
- Stop Frequently: Providing frequent potty and exercise breaks is essential for your pet’s comfort. Most rest stops have areas designated areas for walking pets. Be sure to restrict your pet to these areas when you suspect he needs to potty. Bring your own clean-up bags, and always pick up after your pet. Any time your pet is outside your vehicle, make sure he’s on a leash and wearing a collar that features both permanent and temporary travel ID tags.
- Provide Adequate Hydration: During pit stops, make sure you provide your pet with abundant fresh water to keep him cool and hydrated. Occasionally, travel can cause stomach upset in pets. Using ice cubes for hydration can be easier on your pet’s stomach than large amounts of water.
- Monitor Food Intake: Try to keep feeding to a minimum as you travel – it’s easier on pet stomachs and keeps them more comfortable. Feed your pet his regular pet food, and don’t give in to the temptation of sharing your burger, pizza or nachos with your pet (this decision is fun at the time, but never ends well).
- Don’t Leave Them Alone: Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle. While it’s a common thing to do, it’s actually very dangerous – on warm days, the temperature in your vehicle can reach 120 degrees within minutes – even with the windows cracked open. In addition, animals left alone in vehicles are an easy target for thieves.
- Use Restraints Wisely: Keep your pet safely restrained in your vehicle. Pet safety harnesses, pet travel kennels, vehicle pet barriers, and pet car seat are popular and effective ways to keep your pet safe on the road. Not only do they prevent injury, they prevent accidents by minimizing distractions for the driver. Note that, whatever method you choose, the back seat is always the safest spot in the car for your pet.
Safety harnesses function much like seatbelts. While these devices are comfortable for most pets, you may want to help your pet adjust to his by having him wear it a few times outside the vehicle before your trip. If you choose to use a travel kennel, be sure it is very stable inside the vehicle, and well ventilated so that your pet gets plenty of air. Vehicle barriers are a popular choice among pet parents, especially if they have larger pets. Those with smaller pets might consider a pet car seat, which is secured in the back seat with a seat belt features a safety harness that secures your pet. Pet car seats also help boost little guys and gals up so they can see out the window.
- Keep Him Safe and Comfy: Anyone who has ever been on a road trip knows that keeping comfortable in the car is a high priority. The same is true for your pet. Their seat and safety restraint should be comfortable for them – you may even want to invest in an especially cozy pet car seat for the trip. Also, bringing along favorite blankets and cuddly toys is always helpful.
- Road trips with your pet should be exciting and fun adventures. Following these tips will ensure that your pet’s safety, comfort and security are taken care of, so that the two of you are free to have fun, wherever the road might lead you.
TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at pet friendly hotels, info about airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities and a user-friendly “search hotels by route” option. For more information, please visit tripswithpets.com.