Car Travel With Pets: A Safety Guide

Car Travel With Pets: A Safety Guide

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Are you considering going on a road trip but don't want to leave your pets behind? The good news is that you don't have to. Like all forms of traveling, traveling with your pet can be stressful, but it can be rewarding to get in your car with your pet and explore the world with them. You just need to remember to keep their safety and comfort in mind along the way.

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General Safety Tips

When it comes to long car rides, think of your pet as similar to a toddler. When you drive with a toddler, taking restroom breaks, snack breaks, and time to stop and walk around are necessities, and your pet will appreciate the same consideration.

  • Give your pets regular breaks to walk around and relieve themselves.
  • If your pet is comfortable snacking while on the road, you can feed them snacks as you go to praise them for doing well. If they won't snack in the car, feed them during one of your regular breaks.
  • Give your pet plenty of water so they stay hydrated, especially in the summer. Even if you don't think the car is that hot, your pet might be struggling to stay hydrated.

Train Your Pet for Your Road Trip

You can train your dog or cat to sit, lie down, and shake hands, and you can train your cat to use the litter box, but did you know that you can also train your pet to feel comfortable in cars? If you know that you'll be taking your pets on a car trip, it can be beneficial to spend some time getting them comfortable with car rides.

  • If you plan to put them in a carrier, let them test it out and give them treats when they use it correctly so they will be motivated to be good on your trip.
  • Go on practice rides that are shorter than your planned car trip. Start out with a drive around the block and slowly work your way up to longer trips as your pet becomes more comfortable.
  • Training your pet can also give you an idea if your pet is prone to car sickness. If you notice that your pet suffers from motion sickness in cars, you can look into over-the-counter and prescription medications to help them during your road trip.

Keep Your Pet Contained in the Car

Just like with human passengers, it's important to take precautions to keep pets safe when they're in the car.

  • Buckle your pet in just like you buckle yourself in. There are plenty of harnesses available that can secure them to a seat belt and keep them safe.
  • Crates and barriers designed to keep your pets contained in one place are also great options to keep them from moving around too much and jumping into places they aren't supposed to go.
  • Don't let your dog hang its head out the window. A dog with its head out the window can get debris in its eyes, and the wind rushing by can actually cause damage to the dog's ears. If you need to brake suddenly, the dog is likely to get hurt. And a dog's body will usually fit through any gap that its head can fit through, meaning that it could jump or fall out of the vehicle while you're driving.
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Be Careful in Hot Weather

If at any point in your trip you'll need to leave your pet in the car alone, you should assess the temperature both inside and outside of your car. A relatively mild day outside can be much hotter inside a vehicle and could negatively affect your pet's health or even lead to its death.

  • If you must leave your pet alone in the car, keep the air conditioner on to keep them cool. It may also be a good idea to put a sign in the window of the car so any passers-by understand that your pet isn't in any danger.
  • Check into local laws for all the locations you're stopping in, as it may be illegal in some places to leave pets alone in the car even if the air conditioning is on.
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Shift Editorial Team