dogs inside a car

Tips for Travelling With Pets

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Whether you’re going on a road trip adventure with your furry pals or driving them with you to the old folks’ home, keeping them safe and comfortable during the journey is important.

Pets in distress can make the entire travel time difficult for everyone in the car as they can whine and bark continuously, pant and salivate excessively, tremble, vomit, urinate, or even attempt to escape. Worst, they can get sick because of the stressful experience.

Minimise their stress and keep them comfortable on the road with these tips:

1. Prepare your pets for the long ride

If you’re travelling for several hours or even days, familiarise your pets to the experience by taking them on a series of short drives first and then gradually lengthening the time they spend in your car.

2. Make your car pet-friendly

If you travel frequently with your pets, it is smart to buy a pet-friendly car or at least make your car one. A car with a low floor is ideal for small and older dogs to hop in and out easily. Vehicles with easy-to-clean upholstery or a custom cargo liner are great for pets that frequently urinate. Rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers also come in handy.

The best pet-friendly cars have large cargo space, quiet interior, climate control, and tie-down hooks to secure crates. Cars with doors that open wide, have low floors or bumpers, have easy-to-clean upholstery, rear seats that can be folded flat, and provide hands-free or power liftgate functions are also great buys.

3. Keep them in a well-ventilated crate or carrier

If your pets are not used to travelling inside a moving vehicle, it’s best to put them in a crate that’s comfortable enough for them to stand, sit, and move around. Training your pets to stay inside the crate is also beneficial in the long run as it becomes their area of security. Secure the crate so that it won’t slide or shift, especially during an abrupt stop.

If your pets are too big for a crate, you can let them stay in the rear seat in a harness attached to a seat buckle, especially if you have another human companion to watch them.

If you’re driving a small car with a huge dog, have your furry companion stay in the front seat, restrained with a car harness or seat belt. Make sure the harness fits your dog and attach it securely to your car’s seat belt.

While it seems dreamy to have your pets ride in your car with their heads outside the window, they could get injured by flying objects. It’s better to leave that scene to Shutterstock.

4. Bring a pet-friendly travel kit

The kit must include your pets’ food, bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, medication and first-aid, and their favourite toy. The latter will give your pets a sense of familiarity and security.

Don’t forget to bring enough water for your furry companions. It is best to use bottled water instead of having your pets drink water from an unfamiliar area, which can cause stomach discomfort.

It is best to not feed your pets during the journey and just provide a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. If you’re travelling for days on the road, however, you can give them wet food but avoid feeding them while the car is on the move.

5. Bring the paperwork

Bring all your pet documents if you’re going on a long trip with your pets. Travelling across state lines usually require the pet’s up-to-date health certificate signed by an accredited veterinarian and rabies vaccination record. These documents are asked at certain interstate crossings.

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6. Put a microchip or tag on your pets

Stressed-out pets may attempt to escape from your car, especially during shortstops. Avoid losing them in an unfamiliar place away from home with a microchip or pet tag.

The microchip under your dog or cat’s skin will make them trackable no matter where they wander off to. If you prefer using a pet tag, ensure that the contact information on it is up-to-date so that if your pets wander off and are found by a good Samaritan, the latter can easily find your address and return your little explorers safe and sound.

7. Keep your pets hydrated

Attach a travel water bowl or dispenser inside the crate so that your pets can regulate their water intake. You can also put some ice cubes into the bowl. If installing a water bowl inside the crate is not possible, make regular short stops to let your pets drink.

Keep your car’s windows closed and your air conditioning on. This will help your pets’ body temperature at a healthy level.

As much as possible, travel with your pets in the Spring or Fall when the temperatures are mild. If travelling in the Summer is unavoidable, however, invest in a pet cooling pad or vest. Giving them wet food and ice cube treats are also great for hot weather.

8. Keep your pets entertained

Give your pets something to keep them busy on a long trip, like their favourite toy or treat. This will keep their focus away from the stress of the journey.

However, avoid filling their crates with many toys as these can only take up what little room they have to themselves.

9. Do not leave your pets alone in a parked car

If you're making short stops, say to pee or buy water from a convenience store, make sure the stop is really short.

It is torture for pets to be left inside a car, especially on a very hot day. Even with the windows open, a parked car in an open area can become a furnace and your beloved furbabies could die of heatstroke. In cold weather, it can transform into a refrigerator, leaving your pets to freeze and die from hypothermia.

10. Stay in a pet-friendly hotel

There are plenty of hotels and Airbnb accommodations that welcome pets. Some of these places even provide perks for pet-lovers, like dog spa or daycare.

If you cannot find one, however, don't hesitate to ask the place that you're planning to stay if they allow pets. The last thing you want is to sleep in your car with your pets on a particularly cold night because no hotels would let them in.

Travelling with your pets is more than just loading them in the back seat and occasionally checking on them to see if they're still breathing. To keep them safe and comfortable during the entire journey, you need to make thoughtful preparations that ensure their well-being from your home to your destination.

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