Driving with Pets: Safety Tips & Travel Resources

They are considered as members of family and most people want to take them on road trips. It would be sad to leave a pet behind when you go on a vacation. Besides, you could have a few memorable moments together. Leaving them behind with a friend or family member would be a burden to them and you would miss your friend.

However, not every cat, dog or bird behaves great in automobiles. It may take time for them to get used to confined spaces. You need to take certain precautions to ensure everyone is comfortable and safe in these trips. It is probably best not to make the first journey long one. You should do a few short training runs. Here are a few tips for traveling with pets.

Before You Start the Trip

Usually people go through a planning and preparation process with their family. Other members of family may be able to pack for themselves but you need to pack for your little friend. Here are some of the tips for preparing for the journey.

Get Pet’s Health Checked

Last thing you want is a sickness and therefore you should visit the vet first. You want a health checked and make sure that all the vaccinations are up to date. Crossing states and traveling into Canada requires a health certificate and proof of full rabies vaccination from the vet. It is wise to take the medical records and vet contact information too, just in case you may need to visit a vet when you are away. Furthermore, you should have a quick check online if there are any specific requirements from states and Canadian provinces you are planning to visit.

Prepare ID Tags, Leashes & Photos

Last thing you want is to lose a cat or dog far away from home. Make sure that you have the leashes to use during stops on the way and at destination. You should always ensure that they cannot run off. You should also prepare temporary ID tags to put destination accommodation details, cell phone number and e-mail address. It is a good idea to take several photos of your cat or dog, in case you need to ask help to find him/her.

Pack Well for the Essentials

pets on road tripsYou don’t find what you want when you want on the roads. You should make sure you pack all the necessities to keep them happy and healthy. Here are the essentials you should remember to take.

  • Plenty supplies of favorite food & treats.
  • Water & water bowl
  • Bedding
  • Litterbox
  • Collar, Tags & Leashes
  • Medications & First-Aid Kit
  • Toys & Grooming Supplies

Bring or Buy Restraints

You know how important to buckle up. You should not allow them to roam around in the vehicle. They get killed, injured and cause injuries to other passengers in accidents when they are not properly restrained. They can also cause accidents by distracting the driver.

Restraining is one of the most neglected aspects. Don’t forget to bring or buy proper equipment for restraining canines or felines. There are wide variety of carriers, crates, car seats, seat belts and barriers to keep animals safe in automobiles. You should take short practice runs to get them used to restraints before taking a longer journey.

Find Pet Friendly Accommodation in Advance

Normally you can pull up any hotel on the way and stay for the night. However, it requires prior arrangement when you have animals with you. Not every lodging or campground allows them in the premises. Therefore, you should check and make bookings in advance. This requires careful trip planning.

During the Journey on the Roads

You need to adhere to basic safety and security guidelines once you start. Here are some recommendations for a safe road trip.

Keep the Animals Inside

Your lovely dog may love to stick its head out. But this is dangerous in many aspects. They can be injured because of debris and flying objects or catch cold. Smaller ones can even fall off. Make sure they remain inside the vehicle. In addition, you shouldn’t think that it is alright for them at the back of a pickup truck even for a short time.

Give Regular Breaks

You should be stopping about every two hours to give everyone a short break and take a longer break to eat. Dogs like to stretch their legs and you should give them a chance to do so. Ensure that they are always leashed and have a bag ready to clean up after. Luckily there are plenty rest areas and generally they have ample space for stretching and running around.

Food and Water

Give them plenty water at each stop. But you should keep food to minimum to avoid upset stomach. Furthermore, you should only give their usual food. You shouldn’t allow them to snack on your food or eat other things. Otherwise, you may have to deal with unpleasant digestive issues.

Don’t Leave Them Alone in the Car

You may think that you will only go for a short time. But car temperatures can be fatal even within a short time and windows left slightly ajar. If nobody wants to stay behind with the animal you should take him/her with you to the supermarket or wherever you are going. In addition, people and other moving objects and things can disturb and upset them. Also, there are thieves who are looking for these opportunities. It wouldn’t take long for them to break the window and snatch it.

Safe and Comfortable Pet Restraints

It is worth touching this subject again. You should use the restraints throughout the journey. These are designed to reduce injuries and other passengers as well as preventing driver distraction. Here are some of the common restraint options.

  • Kennels or carriers are ideal for most domestic animals. You need to choose the right size. You should ensure that it is well ventilated. They should be placed flat and secured using seat belt connections. Otherwise, they may bounce around scaring and injuring its occupant.
  • Boot barriers are great options for large animals especially with SUVs and vans.
  • Safety seats are great for small pets. They work similar to a child seat. They should always be placed at the back seat to avoid distraction and airbag injuries and suffocation. Car seats come with a harness that should be used.  Actually, they should never travel at the front no matter what sort of restrain they use.

Finally, you should make sure that they are comfortable during the ride. You should take their favorite blanket and toys to keep them happy. When they are happy they will bother you and anyone else less that will keep everyone happy.

Further Information and Links

You may find the following websites and pages helpful when you are considering a ride.

  • ASPCA recommendations: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers suggestions on this page.
  • Safe rides: This page from Consumer Reports looks at safety and suggests useful products to help.
  • Journey with your dog: The American Kennel Club provides this guide.