Pet Travel By Car: A Short Guide

travel with my pet dog in car

Are you going on a road trip with your furry friend? There might be a few questions that you want answers to before you leave: How do I safely travel with my pet? What should I watch out for when I travel with my pet dog? How do I keep my pet from getting car sick? This guide offers key tips for traveling with pets by car.

Cat in Car

Traveling with cats in a car can be a challenge. Cats do not like change, and therefore, they won’t easily enjoy a car ride if they never experienced it before. In fact, in many instances, they dread traveling by car. Your mission is to keep their anxiety levels low and ensure that they will eventually associate the car with fun and happy experiences (known as classical conditioning). For this reason, do not only make trips to the vet when you take them on a ride. Try to create fun memories and offer them a delicious cat treat at the end of the trip.

Dog in Car

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to traveling with dogs in a car is the fact that most dogs prefer moving around. In addition to this, some dogs that are significantly larger and active can cause a lot of disruption in such tight space. Hence, a pet carrier or restraint is absolutely necessary for the safety of the pet itself, the other passengers, and the driver.

5 Tips for Traveling with Pets

The following list consists of tips for traveling with pets, starting from the point where you prepare for a journey up until the moment you make the round trip.

Before a Car Journey

  1. Get them used to it. Start taking your pet on short car trips to get them to adapt. This will help them endure longer car journeys in the future. If they are too agitated or anxious the first time they enter a car, take them on a long walk first. Once they burn off enough energy, they will be much more inclined to be relaxed while in the car as they will have worn out.
  2. Prepare them. Make sure they are well fed before the journey at least two hours before travel. They travel better on an emptier stomach as it is the best way to prevent car sickness especially in dogs. If the trip is too long, pack a snack to give to them on the way. Moreover, traveling with dogs in a car for long distance will require you to also keep an ample amount of water in a spill proof bowl. The same applies to cats and other pets.
  3. Secure them. Consider purchasing a pet carrier for safer, stress-free traveling, especially when you’re transporting cats in cars, as they may develop anxiety. Make the carrier a safe and positive space for your pet dog or cat by placing it in an area around the house where they enjoy spending time. Alternatives to pet carriers are:
    • Cages or crates: Ideal for pets that refuse to stop moving around.
    • Pet guards: Caged barriers attached to backseat headrests that transform the car boot into a pet area, perfect for large, active dogs.

During the Car Journey

  1. Cat in car without a carrier? Let’s face it. Cars do not like carriers. However, when it comes to safety, you must sacrifice (some) comfort. Consider placing them inside a sports bag instead. It is absolutely necessary to keep them secured and stop them from moving around the car to avoid any distractions for the driver.
  2. Make regular stops. Do not forget that pets require bathroom breaks and stops to have a snack during long journeys. Do not give them food while you are on the move to avoid choking hazards or causing distractions for the driver.

In Case of Car Breakdown

  1. Keep them inside the car if you are busy road or a motorway.
  2. Do not take out without putting a leash on them.
  3. Ask the vehicle insurance company if they can help you transport your pet or ask for alternative solutions.

Arrival to Destination

  1. Let your pet out of the carrier or any other restraints as soon as it is safe to do so.
  2. Take your dog for a walk if they hadn’t gone to the bathroom in a while

When you Return Home

  1. Tire them out by taking them for a walk before your return trip, as it will help them relax better.
  2. Do not rush them into getting back in their cage. Give them enough time to get back on and get comfortable.

Pet Travel Resources

Looking for more information on pet travel? Check out the following resources:

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