When traveling with a pet in a car, a responsible pet owner must abide by 2 important rules:
1. Secure your pet – whether a harness, carrier or crate, securing your pet while in the car is crucial for the safety of both your pet and the occupants of the car. As tempting as it is to have your pet curl up in your lap while you drive, it is putting both you and your pet in harm’s way. A sudden stop, even at low speeds, can seriously hurt your pet as well as other passengers in the car if your pet is not secured in a harness or confined in a crate.
2. Never leave your pet unattended in a car – on a hot summer’s day, the interior of an automobile can heat up to unsafe levels in less than 10 minutes. Additionally, pets are stolen everyday. Why would a caring pet owner take that chance?
Now that these very important points are out of the way, let’s get on to the basics.
BEFORE YOU GO
Make sure your pet is healthy. Check with your veterinarian and renew any shots that are due. Also, give your pet a treatment of flea and tick medication. There may be parasites where you are headed that are different from where you live. Some parts of the country, especially wooded areas, may be infested with fleas and ticks.
If your pet is not accustomed to traveling in the car, take several short trips several weeks ahead of your travel. (Be sure and usethe harness, carrier or crate at this time.) Go somewhere fun like a local dog park so that your pet will associate the car with a positive experience. If your dog has not been crated before, set the crate up in the house and leave the top half of the crate off. Put favorite treats and toys there and offer lots of encouragement. After several weeks, put the top of the crate on but leave the door open. Your pet may take a bit of coaxing, but it will be worth your time in the long run.
Gather your pet’s supplies. Especially important is your pet’s food and water. Bring sufficient amounts of it along as the qualities of water change from place to place and that could contribute to digestive problems for your pet. Other items you will want to bring along are a quality leash, your pet’s collar with a tag on it that has your cell phone number on it, medications, portable water dish, dog treats, toys, brush, shampoo, an old sheet or two for covering up hotel furniture, and plastic bags for picking up after your pet.
Consider bathing and grooming your pet prior to travel. It will make your pet more comfortable and presentable. Feed your pet several hours before you start your trip and take them for a long walk just prior to leaving.
GETTING THE CAR READY
Create a place where your pet can ride safely and still see out the window if possible. Locate your pet where you can touch them to reassure them that you are closeby. They will also need access to their water. A favorite blanket or pet bed would be helpful to take so they feel “at home.”
Don’t forget the restraint device as you don’t want them flying through the windshield if you have to stop suddenly.
If you cat is traveling with you, make a place for the kitty litter. Behind the front seat will do well in some cars. First put down a piece of plastic (a trash bag will do the trick.)
ON THE WAY
Chances are your pet will sleep ninety percent of the time when they are not looking out the window or getting some attention from you.
Make sure your air conditioning is working properly and that you use it while driving. Don’t roll down the windows and let your dog hang its head out of the window, and never have your pet in the back of a truck.
Be sure and schedule frequent stops to allow your pet to move about and relieve themselves. Be sure and attach a leash before letting your pet out of the car and hold on tight. Some pets will bolt from nervousness or excitement when in unfamiliar environments. After a walk, offer your pet hydration and congratulate them for their good behavior. Respect the rights of other travelers and keep your pet close to you.
OVERNIGHT IN A PET FRIENDLY HOTEL
Hopefully you checked our pet friendly hotels and booked a pet friendly hotel or motel online. When checking in, get clarification on the hotel’s pet policy. If the hotel or motel charges a pet fee, pay it. Don’t try to hide your pet or smuggle them into your room.
Most accommodations ask that you do not leave the pet alone in the room for obvious reasons. You may have to order “take out” or room service. Ask at the desk if there are any restaurants with outside dining nearby and check with them to see if pets are welcome on their patio.
Be courteous to other guests in the hotel and keep your pet leashed, quiet, and well behaved while you are there. Walk your pet in designated areas and be sure to clean up after them.
YOU HAVE ARRIVED!
Take your pet around their new home, and show them where you have placed their food, water, and bedding. Introduce your pet to the neighbors, and ask if there are parks nearby where your pet can exercise. Take them for a walk so they can explore the smells of the neighborhood. Most of all, enjoy your vacation with your best friend. You both will be glad you took each other!