Are you planning on hitting the road with the family dog in the back seat? Will this be your first long road trip with Fido accompanying you? If so, then you need to learn all that you can about traveling with pets.
Doing so will help you learn the best way to drive for long distances while ensuring that you and the family pet are comfortable. If you play your cards right, they will likely sleep for the majority of the trip.
See below for an in-depth guide on traveling with pets and all of the essential tips that we recommend along the way.
1. Establish Pet-Friendly Stops Beforehand
If you’re planning for a long road trip, then we would venture to guess your biggest concern is how to accommodate your pet. What if you stop at a rest stop that doesn’t have designated areas for pets? Is it frowned upon to let your dog do their business if there isn’t a designated pet area?
First, the good news is that most places are accommodating of pets these days. Rest stops and gas stations near highway exit ramps almost certainly have areas for your dog or cat to relieve themselves.
However, just to be 100-percent certain, you should establish the stops you’ll make (that are pet-friendly) beforehand.
First, cut up your trip into realistic time slots for your family. For example, if you’re drive is 10 hours long, then you may decide to take a pit stop at the 3-hour marker, 6-hour marker, and 8-hour marker.
Calculate what cities you’ll be near during those times and find pet-friendly stops along the way. Depending on your travel plans, you might also be planning on stopping at a hotel for the night, in which case you will need to find pet-friendly hotels.
You may also need these at your final destination. For example, if you’re driving to Las Vegas, you can find many hotels with dogs that will accommodate your need.
2. Give Your Pet the Ideal Setup
You wouldn’t want someone to force you to sit in the back seat with the expectation that you just sit there with nothing to do, right? Then don’t do that to your pet.
The key to long-distance traveling with dogs is making sure they’re comfortable. If they love their crate and it fits inside your car, then that’s the safest course of action.
If you think your dog will be more comfortable without the crate (or if the crate won’t fit) then there are many variations of car seats for them. For example, you could invest in a quilted waterproof seat cover to let them lay out in the back seat be comfortable (and safe).
You could also invest in a comfy car seat to ensure that they’re secure and protected. Bring their favorite toy or two along for the travel.
Also, have plenty of treats on hand to compliment them and treat them to something special every few hours. But go easy on the treats, as some pets are prone to get upset stomachs due to motion sickness while they travel.
3. Take a Test Drive
If this will be your first time traveling long-distance with Fido, it’s completely normal to feel nervous. However, you can alleviate some of those nerves by taking them out for a spin or two before the drive.
We recommend taking them on the highway for a 30 to 45-minute drive in the arrangement you have planned for them during the road trip.
For example, if you purchased a new car seat for them, place them in it and drive them around for half an hour. This will help them get used to the setup, as well as help you see what improvements you could make to make them feel more comfortable.
Even packing their favorite blanket will make a world of difference. It will give them just enough normalcy, which could help them feel more at peace with your travels.
4. Pack Excessively
Just when you think you’ve packed enough for your pet, you haven’t. Don’t go light on your pet’s belongings for the trip. Always pack in excess. Here are a few things you’ll want to pack for your furry friend.
- An entirely new bag of dog/cat food
- 2 to 3 of their favorite toys
- 2 of their favorite blankets (1 to stay in the car, 1 for the hotel)
- 2 leashes (just in case you lose one)
- Dog collar (placed on the dog the entirety of the trip)
- Any other accessories your pet is used to having
- A plethora of poop bags for dogs or cat litter for cats
Making sure that all your t’s are crossed will help prevent you from trying to find the nearest pet store in a new city.
5. Trim Their Nails
Whenever dogs are standing up in a moving car, they dig their paws (and nails) into the seat below them. If your dog’s nails are long and unkempt, then they could do major damage to your interior.
Make sure to get your dog’s nails trimmed before you hit the open road.
It might not be a bad idea to schedule a checkup at your vet, who will gladly trim their nails for a small fee.
Use These Tips for Traveling With Pets
Now that you have seen an in-depth guide for traveling with pets and all that it entails, be sure to use this information to your advantage.
Take the time to browse through our website for more articles on traveling with pets, as well as many other tips that you’ll find helpful.