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Tips on Car Travel with Pets

Tips on Car Travel with Pets - Dog in a car window
Shelly Cochran
Shelly Cochran
March 4, 2022

Traveling with pets can be stressful for the pet and driver. Pets get stressed out when seeing the veterinarian. There is a difference between driving 20 minutes to the vet’s office and a road trip that lasts several hours. You should ensure you secure your pet so you won’t have to worry about the additional distraction while driving.

If, however, you are involved in a collision and are injured, be sure to discuss the situation with specialized car accident attorneys who can help you win the maximum possible compensation from insurance companies.

Buy the Proper Identification

Dog and Microchipping

Traveling with a pet is not like traveling with kids. Pets cannot tell a stranger who they are and how to get ahold of mom or dad, so plan and get microchipped. Invest in a good quality collar and tag engraved with your information. Should your dog get out of the pet area at a rest stop, there is a better chance to get them back.

Stop at the Vet’s Office

Is your pet up to date? This is an excellent time to revisit rabies vaccinations. It might be a good idea to start a dog or cat on a regimen of heartworm prevention pills.

Buy a Pet Carrier

While your cat may love to snuggle with you in an armchair while reading a book in the evening, it may not feel quite so comfortable sitting on your lap in a moving vehicle. It is always a good idea for animals to have a place to lie down and spend time on their own. A good-quality pet carrier should meet certain specifications.

  1. Proper size: The pet should have enough room to stand up and turn around. It needs to be able to stretch out while lying down.
  2. Hard sides: A soft carrier may be all the rage right now, but choose a hard-shell carrier for the sake of safety. In case of an auto accident, the construction of the pet carrier offers some protection.
  3. Food and water containers: Your pet needs to have access to water while in the carrier. Having food is also a good idea. For comfort, add a couple of soft towels that you can wash.

Buy a Harness

Dog with a Harness

While this is good advice, large pets, particularly dogs, benefit from a harness. Good-quality models are suitable for clipping into a vehicle’s safety belt system. When the animal is out of its carrier, you can secure the harness to a seat using a seatbelt clip.

Outfit Your Vehicle with Messes in Mind

If you do not want to deal with vomit, urine, or a muddy dog in your car, taking a different vehicle might make more sense. However, if you are going to take your car, consider buying rubber floor liners and waterproof seat covers. If the animal will spend a bit of time in the rear area of an SUV, buy a fitted storage area mat. You can slide them in and out quickly, and you can hose them down after camping or a day at the beach.

Take a Few Test Runs

Successful and enjoyable car travel with pets takes practice. Let the animal get used to riding in the car for a longer time. At the same time, learn what your pet needs to stay comfortable. It starts with a few short drives and continues with rides that gradually lengthen. Introduce the pet to the travel carrier. Taking these test runs helps you get into a rhythm for clipping on and taking off a leash, stopping and taking breaks, and spending some time with the animal.

Put Together a Travel Kit for Your Pet

Dog in a dog bed

Include all the essentials that your pet likes. These are the food and water dishes, a couple of toys, food, bottled water, and a pillow. Remember to pack some first-aid items, too—plan for waste disposal. Have litter, a box, and a scoop on hand for a cat. For a dog, bring along waste bags. It is always good to have unscented baby wipes you can use to clean an animal that might get messy on the side of the road.

Plan Your Rest Stops

Know ahead of time what your route will be. You will not be able to visit restaurants for inside dining since you cannot leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle. In addition to it being not legal in various jurisdictions, it is also not safe, healthy, or comfortable for the pet. And, most restaurants do not like it when you bring a pet inside – even if it is inside a carrier. Pack food for yourself or know what is coming up before ordering for pick-up.

Check Your Insurance

If you are covering some distance, check in with your insurance agent to update your insurance to include comprehensive and collision coverage. Also, check to make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage. Keep a copy of your registration, insurance card, and other vehicle information in your glove box.

If you are involved in an accident, schedule a FREE consultation with one of our auto accident attorneys. Consultations are available during office hours in person or via Zoom. We also offer Zoom consultations after hours and on weekends.