Tips for a safe, pet-friendly road trip
Last updated: January 1
You do your best to keep people safe in your car — making everyone buckle up and avoiding distractions. But what happens when you bring your pet along for the ride?
If you're in an accident, any passenger could be injured, including an animal in the vehicle. When you're bringing your cat or dog on vacation, consider these tips for a safe, pet-friendly road trip.
Get your pet ready for the trip
Before your road trip, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends taking your pet for some shorter trips, especially if they don't usually go for car rides. This can help them get used to the car and also help you determine if your pet experiences motion sickness. If he does, the AVMA suggests talking to your veterinarian about whether medication may help. If not, it may be better to leave your pet with friends or a pet care service while you're on the road.
Arrange for pet-friendly accommodations
Make sure your destination is pet-friendly, says the AVMA. If you'll be staying in someone's home, ask if your dog or cat is welcome, too.
If you'll be staying at a hotel, make sure that pets are allowed. Ask for specifics about their pet policies, as the AVMA says some hotels only allow animals under a certain size.
Keep pets secured
Not only can a cat or dog roaming around a car be a distraction to the driver, but an unrestrained animal can be injured and potentially injure you if there is an accident. says Condé Naste Traveler.
While in the car, keep pets in a crate or carrier that is well-ventilated and has enough room for your furry friend to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around. Secure the crate or carrier with a seat belt so that it won't slide or shift if you make a hard stop, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
If you do not use a carrier, the ASPCA recommends using a pet seat belt or harness attached to the car's seat belt. Cats typically do not do well in cars, however, so it is best to keep them in a carrier, says the Humane Society of the United States. Never put your pet in the front seat of a vehicle — even in a crate — as they could be seriously injured by an air bag during an accident.
Plan pit stops
Plan to stop every two to three hours to let your pet get a little exercise, drink some water and relieve himself, says the AVMA. Make sure pets have a collar, ID tag and a leash attached before you get them out of the car, says the Humane Society.
Pack a pet travel kit
According to the ASPCA, some of the items you'll need to pack for your pet include:
- Food, water and bowls (Consider using bottled water, as water from an area they're not used to could upset an animal's stomach.)
- Comfort items, such as toys and a favorite blanket
- Leash, collar and ID tag (Condé Nast Traveler recommends having your cellphone number on the tag and also making sure your pet is microchipped.)
- Waste supplies, such as a scoop, bags or litter and tray
- First aid supplies
- Grooming items, such as a brush
- Travel documents, such as a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, and/or veterinary records, particularly if you're crossing state lines, says the AVMA
Be a responsible pet owner
Even on vacation, you're still responsible for taking care of and cleaning up after your pet. Do not leave your pet alone in the car, as this can lead to heatstroke in hot weather and hypothermia in cold weather, according to the AVMA. Give your pet time to acclimate to your temporary living space, and consider leaving them in their crate if you go out without them.
Traveling with your cat or dog can make a trip more memorable, but it's important to help keep pets safe and comfortable. With a little planning and preparation, you and your furry friends can road trip safely.