FAQs: Pet Travel by Car

It’s road trip season!  And while we humans are excited to hit the open road in search of adventures this summer, so are too are our pets.  Road trips are a great way to bond with all of your loved ones.  From the fresh air to the sights, there’s just so much out there to do and see, and so much bonding to be done with your favorite four-legged companion.

But, before you hit the road with your pet by your side, there are a few tidbits of information you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure everyone has a safe and comfortable journey.  That’s why we’re taking a closer look at some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about pet travel by car.  Here’s what you should know:   

What’s the best way to prepare my pet for car travel?

First, if you know that your pet really doesn’t travel well or doesn’t enjoy riding in the car, then it’s best not to push them.  Consider leaving them at home, with a friend, or at a trusted boarding facility where they’ll be comfortable and happy while you’re away.  For those road trip first-timers out there, it’s best to ease your four-legged companion into things.  Start by taking short trips to dog-friendly destinations or play areas that will help not only get them used to the idea of riding in a car but help instill a sense of fun and excitement at the prospect of traveling toward something rewarding.  If you find that your pet tends to get car sick, which isn’t all that uncommon, simply talk to your veterinarian about travel tips and possible medication to help keep them calm and comfortable for the duration of your journey.   

How can I ensure the health and safety of my pet while traveling in the car? 

There are several things you’re going to want to do to keep your pet comfortable and safe while traveling.  For instance, make sure you plan for frequent stops to allow your pet to go to the bathroom and stretch their legs.  An ideal interval is to stop every 2 to 3 hours.  You’re also going to want to make sure that your pet stays properly restrained in their seat to avoid possible injury and driver distractions.  Some other things to consider when it comes to properly restraining your pet when traveling by car include:

  • Never let your pet ride in the open back of a truck. This is incredibly unsafe!  Your pet needs to be properly restrained or crated and done so according to zoning standards/laws.
  • Don’t let your pet ride with their heads or bodies hanging out open windows. While, it can be very tempting to let your pet just chill in the window, the fact is this is actually pretty dangerous.  They could be hit with dirt, debris or any number of potentially harmful things that could lead to infection, injury, etc.    
  • Never let your pet ride in the driver’s lap or anywhere near the driver’s feet. Riding with your buddy in your lap, especially those pets who are smaller, may seem like the ultimate way to bond during a long car ride, this is actually very dangerous and distracting.  If you’re traveling with small pets, it’s best to keep them confined in crates or in travel-safe beds.  Larger pets should be restrained with harnesses attached to car seat belts. 

What’s the best way to make my pet’s ride more enjoyable?

Aside from the enjoyment of your time spent bonding on the road together, you can help make your pet more comfortable by making their car space feel more like home.  Bring their favorite blanket along for them to lay on or their favorite chew toy to help distract them.  The most important thing is that your pet feels comfortable and safe, and that will make for a more enjoyable ride for everyone. 

As you hit the road this summer, we encourage you to put safety first, and we wish you many happy adventures and memories! 


Featured photo credit: EnriqueZavaleta via Pixabay, cc

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