Driving in Cars with Pets: How to Safely Roadtrip with Your Furry Friends

We all now that summer is the perfect time to take a road trip. Hitting the open road with your closest friends is a great time, but what about man’s best friend? Your dog may be one of your favorite companions, and many people love taking Fido or Spot out for a drive. But taking your pet along isn’t as simple as beckoning it into the backseat with a treat. There are some safety precautions every pet-loving road-tripper should keep in mind.

Stay Up-to-Date

It’s always important to keep your pet up-to-date on shots and vaccinations. Before you take off, make a vet appointment to make sure everything is taken care of. Get updated tags and medical records to have on hand while you’re traveling. If your pet gets sick, you may have to seek out the nearest vet to get the medication it needs to get better.

In some states, you may not be able to get medicine without these forms, Allstate contributor, Jody DeVere explained. Other times, you may need to prove your pet has had its rabies shots.

Having identification is also essential. Tags with your pet’s name as well as your contact information is a good idea. You may also want to consider getting a microchip.

Buckle Up

You know better than to drive without your seatbelt, or to let your friends ride in your car without buckling up first. These safety devices will help everyone stay safe in case of an accident or emergency. Your pets are also at risk in an accident, though seatbelts made for humans don’t exactly work with dogs or cats.

“Take a few practice runs to get your pet used to riding in the car.”

Instead, look into getting a travel harness or crate for your pet to stay safe and secure. The crate should be large and comfortable enough for your cat or dog to stand up, lie down and turn around in, according to the ASPCA. The carrier itself should be secured so that it won’t slide or fly in the event of a crash. If you choose not to use a crate, be sure not to let your dog ride with his or her head out the window. As much as Fido loves this, it just isn’t safe.

Practice Makes Perfect

Not all dogs love a car ride. Before day 1 of your road trip, take a few practice runs to get your pet used to riding in the car. If these first few rides don’t go smoothly, you may have to consider other options. Some pets just aren’t cut out for long-distance travel.

Your pet will also need to get used to the harness or crate they’ll spend a good portion of their time in on the trip. Get it well in advance of your journey and practice putting it on your pet. Be sure they feel comfortable inside the crate, and don’t mind putting the harness on.

Give Them A Break

You and your other road trip buddies will likely take along snacks and beverages to keep your hunger at bay during those long stretches of travel. Don’t forget about your pet, though. To be sure it doesn’t get dehydrated, bring along a few bottles or travel containers of water and feed it to your pet regularly.

Don’t try to feed your pet food in a moving vehicle, though. Not only could this get messy, but it’s also a choking hazard. Be sure to make regular stops to let your cat or dog eat, stretch its legs and do its business in nature. Ignoring this responsibility is bad for your pet, and could result in an unwanted mess inside your car.

When you take a break for yourself, don’t leave your pet inside a hot or cold car. Oftentimes owners will crack the windows to allow for fresh air, but this isn’t always enough. A car can heat up fast on a hot day, even if it’s parked in the shade with the windows down. Instead of overheating your pet, keep the air conditioning on and, when possible, take the dog or cat outside to cool down.

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