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Pet Travel by Car

Before you travel by car with your pet
Pet travel by car 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.

Check your pet's supplies

Pack all of the necessary items in one small bag and keep it where you can get to it.

  • leash and collar
  • name tag (with your cell phone number on it)
  • picture of your pet (in case you should be separated)
  • bottled water and a portable water dish
  • supply of pet food, dish, and spoon
  • dog treats (all good pets deserve a treat now and then)
  • brush
  • shampoo
  • toys (save a special chew bone for the trip)
  • medication (including eye and ear drops, ear powder, tweezers for removing burrs, and any pills or vitamins your pet may be taking)
  • pet harness for riding in the car (pets need to be "buckled up for safety")
  • An old sheet or two for covering up hotel furniture that your pet may jump up on
  • pee pee clean-up sheets
  • plastic bags for picking up after your pet

Grooming your pet including bathing, combing and nail trim before the trip will make your pet more comfortable and presentable.

Feed your pet several hours before you depart and then take them for a long walk before you start your trip.

Getting the car ready

Create a place where your pet can ride safely and still see out the window. Locate your pet where you can touch them to reassure them that you are with them. Having your pet sit in your lap is not a good idea. 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 pet harness  or pet car seat 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 portable kitty litter tray. Behind the front seat will do well in some cars.

Pack their pet carrier and/or pet crate as these are essential for traveling pets. Many hotels will not allow pets in rooms unattended unless they are crated.

Traveling down the highway

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.

You need to stop every 2-3 hours to let your pet stretch their legs. Always keep your pet on a leash while in public and respect the rights of other travelers. They might not care for pets as much as you do.

Never leave your pet unattended in a car

Modern automobiles are virtually air tight and a pet left alone in a car is at risk of not getting enough air, or suffering from heat exposure. Even though the air temperature is only 70 degrees, a car in the sun will get hot very quickly. If you must leave your pet in the car, roll down the windows enough for adequate ventilation without allowing your pet to jump out.

Overnight in a hotel

Hopefully, you booked a pet friendly hotel, air bnb, vacation rental or motel online. 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 at Your Destination

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!

More information on pet travel by car.

Pet Travel by Car

Need More Information?

Have a question? We have current and accurate information on traveling in an RV, rental car pet policies, buckling your pet up for safety, traveling with a cat and traveling with an older dog; it is all here and we are adding more articles all the time Your pet's health is always important, especially when you are traveling. We have articles on avoiding car sickness, canine influenza, pet safety, and more. There are also articles on fun things to do with your pet: camping with your pet, great dogs for traveling seniors, and other adventures that you and your pet can share.

If you have questions, you can post them directly to our Facebook page, blog, forum or email us at We will answer them as soon as we can.