Five Steps to a Pet-Friendly Road Trip
Planning a trip with your furry companion?
As you prepare for your getaway, here are five tips for a pet-friendly road trip:
1. Prepare Your Pet
Consult with your veterinarian before you go. It’s a good time to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are current and discuss any health concerns. Be sure to stock up on an ample supply of medications and obtain a copy of your pet’s health certificate. If you’re traveling across state lines, the ASCPA recommends taking along your pet’s rabies vaccination record.1 Make sure your pet is microchipped, and if it’s been awhile, make sure your microchip contact information is current. Before you leave, it’s also a good idea to research accredited veterinarians in areas where you’ll be traveling – just in case.
If your pet isn’t used to spending time in the car, start with some short trips to fun places to get him or her comfortable before embarking on a longer journey. As your vacation draws near, slowly increase the length of car time. If you find that your pet is prone to motion sickness, your vet may provide anti-nausea mediation.
2. Prepare Your Vehicle
Your pet’s safety is of the utmost importance so your animal should never be free to roam around your vehicle or ride with his or her head outside the window. A ventilated car carrier or crate meets the needs of many pets, but if you have a larger dog, you may want to purchase a pet safety belt or harness. There are many canine seatbelts on the market, so be sure do your research. You should introduce your dog to any new restraint before the road trip so he or she is comfortable being held in place. Always remember to de-activate the airbag for any seats your pets occupy.
3. Pack for Your Pet
Don’t forget your pet’s essentials, including:
- Food, water, bowls and treats
- Medications and medical records
- Collar or harness with identification
- Waste bags
- A few favorite toys
A favorite blanket or toy can ease anxiety and help your pet settle into an unfamiliar place.
4. Plan Your Journey
When planning your route, it’s important to call ahead to reserve pet-friendly hotel rooms. Ask questions about each individual hotel’s pet policies. Many hotels have size, breed, or weight restrictions for dogs. Some limit the number of dogs per room and some have a limited number of pet-friendly rooms. Ask about amenities offered, and what additional fees, if any, might be involved. Getting the specifics in advance can help avoid surprises along the way.
Try to break up the number of long days you’ll be in the car and do your best to maintain your pet’s schedule, including feeding times and bathroom breaks. Most state-run rest stops have designated pet areas. In general, it’s a good idea to stop every few hours to let your pet stretch.
5. Practice Your Manners
Be considerate and teach your pet to be reliable—well before you depart. Make sure your dog is adequately-trained in basic commands like “come,” “stay,” or “heel” before you’re in unfamiliar and potentially dangerous territory. If your dog doesn’t leave home very often, practice these skills in a dog park or other public place before you hit the road.
Finally, abide by the rules of the places you visit, always leash, and always clean up.
1ASPCA “Travel Safety Tips,” https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/travel-safety-tipsg