Last weekend we drove all the way from Chicago to southwest Florida with our 10-month-old dog, Jango, in the back seat. Now, you might think that we're crazy for embarking on a 23-hour car trip with a rambunctious, 55-pound puppy, but she was actually fine. We stopped every couple hours, and she slept most of the time. Traveling with a pet was actually a lot easier than I thought. Here are some tips for taking pets on a road trip.
- Get your pet used to the car. If you don't usually take your pets in the car, then do a few short test runs so that they can get comfortable in your vehicle. If your pets' only experience in the car has been on the way to the vet, try to go to fun places (like the dog park) so they will associate the car with good, positive things.
- Do not allow pets to ride in the front seat. It's unsafe because they can interfere with driving or be thrown into the windshield if there is a quick stop or accident. Cats and small dogs should ride in a crate or pet carrier. Larger dogs should be restrained with a pet travel harness or partition between the front and back seats. We strap Jango in with this Comfort Ride Travelin' Dog Car Harness (PetSmart, $26.99). She hates it, but she knows that safety is most important!
- Keep windows rolled up, at least high enough so that your dog doesn't squeeze out. Avoid letting your dog ride with their head out the car window as this can lead to eye and ear injuries (although if we are going really slow, we sometimes let Jango do this because she loves it so much!).
- Bring a dish and plenty of water. Pets get really thirsty during car rides.
- Stop frequently. We stopped at rest areas along the highway every two to three hours so Jango could get a bit of exercise, get some water, and go to the bathroom (if needed).
- Prevent car-sickness. Avoid feeding pets three ours before travel. If your pet tends to get queasy ask your vet about medicines like (Cerenia or Dramamine) or other remedies like ginger or peppermint for pet queasiness. Be prepared with plastic bags, newspapers, and towels in case your pet gets sick.
- For more information, consult The Partnership for Animal Rescue's Car Tips and Car Safety.
Have you ever road-tripped with your pet?