Driving with Pets

Driving with Pets

Many pets will enjoy a car trip if there's something fun for them waiting at the other end! Here's how to make your road trip with pets easier and safer.

Avoiding Carsickness

Acclimate your pet to car ahead of time by taking the following steps:

  • Use a treat to reward them for getting in the car.
  • Try feeding them in a parked car.
  • Then start the car to get them used to motion.
  • Try taking on them on short errands.

If your pet has a problem, contact your vet about using a calming liquid such as "Rescue Remedy", ginger snap cookies or ginger capsules, an over-the-counter medication such as Benadryl or Dramamine, or a stronger prescription remedy. Note that some of these remedies can modify your pet's ability to adjust to the demands of travel.
On day of trip, feed your pet lightly, if at all - 1/3 of its normal amount - 6 hours before traveling. No more food before the trip. Feed the remainder of the food in the evening after arriving.
Offer water up until departure. Do not withhold water.

Crates, Harnesses, and Restraints

Always use a crate (for cats, this is the only option), harness, or other appropriate restraint.
A 60 pound pet in a 30 mph crash will have 1,200 pounds of force. Even a 10 mph crash can be fatal.
Unrestrained pets can escape (or get injured or killed while attempting to) or hamper rescuer's efforts after a crash.
Injured or traumatized pets can become aggressive, even to those they know.
Some state laws require it.
Test your choice on your pet and acclimate them to it before your trip.
If using a crate, make sure it is well-ventilated, securely placed and restrained by putting a seat belt through the crate. Place label on crate "please leave pet in crate to remove from vehicle". If crate's location is too warm, you can use a battery-operated fan. Make certain to put a familiar article in crate for your pet's comfort.
If you are not using a crate, use a padded harness specifically made for car travel. The harness attaches to the seat belt.

Before you leave

Not every pet will adjust to car trips.
Before taking longer trips, take shorter trips first.
Check out the rules for pet entry for the states you'll be passing through and staying in.
Use Takeyourpet.com to find pet-friendly lodging before you go.
Don't forget to take in the car:

  • Your pet's favorite bedding and toys.
  • A litter box on the floor if traveling with a cat.
  • An extra roll of paper towels in case of car sickness.
  • An old blanket or sheet on the back seat to minimize dirt and hair transfer.
  • A window shade to keep your pet out of the sun,.
  • Water for your pet. Freeze containers if needed.

On the trip

Place the pet on the shady side of the car and try to place where you can see them. Pets should never be in a front seat. Air bags can deploy dangerously and injure your pet. Also, pets in the front seat may be a source of distraction or get in the way in the event the driver needs to perform emergency action.
Never put your pet in a trunk or the storage area of a moving van.
Never put your pet into the open bed of a pickup. The bed may be too hot or the pet may attempt to (or actually) jump out of the truck. Many state laws thankfully prohibit such a practice.
Make certain your pet's collar remains on the whole trip.
For eating, eat a restaurant with patio dining where pets are allowed or use a facility offering drive-thru or drive-up service.
Use your air conditioning and heating to keep your pet comfortable.
Make sure to offer your pet water regularly to keep it comfortable.
Stop every 3-4 hours for rest and to allow your pet to stretch.
Make certain to secure your pet before opening the car door.
Always use a leash when having your pet out of the car. Rest areas have a dangerous level of traffic. Unleashed pets may be injured or stolen. They can also be exposed to antifreeze, broken glass, dangerous garbage, pesticides, and rodenticides.
If you are traveling with a cat, do not let it out of the car. Just pull over in a quiet place, close the doors and windows and let it run around in the car.
Never leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle. Cold and heat can kill. Vehicles can reach 160 degrees even in cloudy weather and shade moves. Pets left in a running car can succumb to carbon monoxide exposure. Also, thieves steal pets out of parked vehicles. Your pet may also become scared if left and may injure itself or escape.
Once you re-enter the car and have it secured, remove your pet's leash. An attached leash can become a choking hazard.
Don't allow your pet to stick its head out of the window. Flying debris may injure or it may fall out. Pets may also get bee stings in their nose or have their ears or respiratory system damaged by the force of wind. Additionally, pets have been strangled from electric windows.


Incorrect or missing information? Please contact us and let us know.


Publishing rights: You may republish this article in your website, newsletter, or book on the condition that you agree to attribute the article to "Takeyourpet.com - the place to find pet friendly lodging"




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