With the holidays approaching, many people will be hitting the road to visit family. For some of those people, that will mean bringing their pets along for the ride. While not everyone takes their pets on road trips, many pet owners will take their pets (especially dogs!) in their car for errands, trips to nearby parks, and just joy rides. In this blog, we’ll go over some tips to keep you and your pet safe on the road.

Focus on the road. Pets can be a huge distraction while driving, especially if they are bouncing around (see below for recommended restraint devices). For this reason, it is best to keep them in the back seat rather than the passenger seat. While it is certainly hard to resist turning around to pet your best furry friend, please keep your safety and those of others in mind, and keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel at all times.

Buckle Up! You buckle yourself in while driving to protect yourself in case of an accident. Picture this: your 65 lb Labrador retriever is moving from window to window in the back seat, and the worst case scenario happens—you crash into another vehicle. Even at slower speeds, it is possible for your pet to be very injured from the impact if not restrained, and it is also possible that you could be injured in the process. There are many different devices on the market, such as harnesses that attach to seatbelts, straps that attach to car ceilings, or crates/carriers that can be buckled in for smaller pets.

Keep your pet entertained! Keeping you distraction-free so you can focus on driving may just depend on making sure your pet is entertained. Having their favorite toy along for the ride is a good way to do that.

Keep closed windows and sunroofs to avoid injuries. While you may feel guilty not letting your dog stick his head out the window, the alternative very well may be debris getting into his eyes or cutting his face. Additionally, if the windows are down, and your pet is not restrained when an accident occurs, it is possible for them to go through the window. The best place for your pet to be while traveling is inside the vehicle with the windows closed.

Make sure to stop frequently for exercise and bathroom breaks. While you may be able to go for many hours without using the restroom, it is best to give your dog ample breaks to stretch their legs and urinate and defecate. If traveling with a cat on longer trips, make sure to bring along a travel litterbox.

Do what you can to prevent carsickness. Some pets get very nauseous on car rides. One thing you can do to prevent symptoms is avoid feeding them right before the car ride. If you know your pet gets severely car sick, speak to your veterinarian in advance of your trip about medications he/she can prescribe to help.

Pack necessary food and medications. Plan in advance, and make sure not to forget any important medications. If it’s going to be a long ride before your destination, make sure you’ve packed plenty of food as well.

Travel with important documentation. You never know when an emergency can happen. As a result, it is best to make sure that you have with you important documentation, such as vaccine records, pertinent medical records, and health certificates if traveling across state lines.

Last but not least, do not leave your pet unattended in a parked car on hot or sunny days. We have discussed in previous blogs the risk of heat stroke. Even on cooler days, a car parked in direct sunlight has the potential to heat up to temperatures within just a few minutes that can be life-threatening for your pet.
Whether you’re traveling short or long distances, we hope that you will take some of these tips to heart when having your pets along for the ride. Safe travels!