No matter if you have a dog that loves to go on car rides, or a cat who would rather die, traveling with your pet is sometimes necessary. Whether it’s occasional visits to the vet, jaunts to the dog park, or long camping trips, it’s important that your pet be able to travel with you in safety and comfort.
When driving with your pet, you need to protect your car. Even a pet that loves travel will occasionally have accidents or get sick, and even in the best of times your car upholstery will suffer from muddy feet, shed fur, and claw damage. Investing in a good seat protector preserves the value of your car and makes travel safer for your animal companion.
However, there are a few basic rules of the road necessary to travel with your pet in comfort and safety:
- Exercise ahead of time. Giving your dog a good round of exercise before putting them in the car for a long time encourages them to rest and stay calm inside the vehicle. It alleviates their stress and anxiety and may ease yours as well.
- If traveling with a cat, do not feed them before or during the trip to reduce the possibility of vomiting. A cat can safely go without food for 8 hours or so.
- Give your dog a new toy for the trip. A novel toy makes a good pastime and keeps your dog busy. Catnip will have a similar effect on a cat, and they may find it relaxing.
- Turn off power windows. A dog may accidentally operate power windows with their feet, and this could be harmful or dangerous. Make sure you stay in control of doors and windows.
- Take breaks. Even if you don’t feel you need a break, plan to stop every 2-3 hours to give your dog a rest. Let them do their business and go for a short walk. It’s healthy for both of you!
- Bring water and a bowl. Dogs need regular access to fresh water, even for short trips. It’s best to not only bring water with you but keep extra water in your in-car emergency kit just in case. A cat can go without water for long periods of time, and it’s best to give them water when the vehicle is stopped, to prevent spilling. If your cat is a fussy traveler, bring a bottle of the water they drink at home; cats may not like unfamiliar water.
- Bring litter and a box. If traveling with a cat, there are a variety of portable litterboxes available to protect your car and keep your cat happy.