Traveling by car with your pet
Last updated: Apr. 21 2021 | 5 min read
You know they want to go along – so why not take them?
Make sure your pets are healthy, schedule a visit with your vet, and renew any shots that are due. Some Hotels now require that you show proof that your pet’s shot record is current.
Be sure to give them a treatment of flea and tick medicine as some areas may be infested with fleas and ticks. Treatment of heartworm medicine is recommended since mosquitoes can infect your pet.
Check their supplies: (pack all of your pet stuff in one small bag where you can get to it)
A leash and collar, a pet name tag (hopefully it has a phone number on it where someone will answer, a cell phone number is great).
Bottled water, and a water dish (preferably the kind that does not spill)
A supply of their pet food, a dish and maybe a spoon, and don’t forget the treats
A pet brush, pet Shampoo if you are going to be gone for a week or more
A toy or two, and something for them to sleep on.
Don’t forget their medical supplies:
Tweezers for removing burrs
Eye cleaning drops
A pet restraint device (like your safety belt only for pets)
Plastic bags for picking up after your pet.
Feed your pet a light meal several hours before you depart and then take them for a long walk before you start your trip.
The first thing to realize when dealing with car sickness is that in 95% of cases it is stress-related and not motion related. Your pet may relate a car trip with being taken away from its first home, or trips to the Vet, or even worse, the Kennel. So, it’s not surprising that subsequent rides in a car should evoke very strong mental and subsequent physical trauma.
Re-program your pet’s attitude towards travel in a car. Find a park about 5-10 minutes from home, ideally have someone else in the car too, to soothe the dog and distract him from the ride. Keep him happy all the way to the park. When at the park do all the enjoyable things that the dog loves, fetch the ball, and chase the Frisbee. The stay at the park doesn’t need to be that long…. just as enjoyable as possible. Then drive the dog home soothing him all the way again and when home makes just as much fuss of the dog as you did at the park. Finish the session with his meal or a treat if time and conditions permit.
Now your pet will now associate car travel with fun times.
Travel on empty. It’s a good idea not to feed your pet six to eight hours before embarking on a road trip. Having an empty stomach will make him less likely to throw up, and if he does get sick, there’s no food in the vomit, so at least it’s easier to clean up. Giving your pet water, however, won’t upset his stomach and may make him more comfortable.
Or put in a quarter-tank. While some pets travel best on an empty stomach, others will feel more comfortable after eating a small meal. Some pets just need a little food in their stomach to help keep them from getting sick.
Take frequent rest breaks. While some pets can travel for hours without having problems, others start getting queasy after a few miles. Get to know your pet’s pattern and stop at least every hour or two to take a quick walk to help your pet get his land legs back. It’s also a good idea to pour him a little water, since he may not feel like drinking when he’s in the car.
Be up-front with him. There’s not as much movement in the front of the car as in the back, so it might help your pet if you let him ride in the front seat, but make sure they are in a doggy seatbelt or a small kennel that buckles into the seat.
Expand his horizons. Pets, like people, are less likely to get carsick when they can watch the passing scenery.
Crank down the windows. Fresh air is good for anyone who’s feeling a little carsick, including your dog or cat, but don’t open the window enough so he can escape or get his head way out.
Try a motion potion. Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) — the same drug people take to ward off car sickness — also works for pets. Medium to large dogs should be given 25 to 50 milligrams of Dramamine at least an hour before traveling, cats and small dogs should get about 12.5 milligrams. Be sure to check with your vet before giving your pet any medicinal product.
PREPARING YOUR CAR
create a place where your pet can ride safely and still see out the window, and be able to be touched by you. Sitting in your lap while you are driving is not the best idea. They will need access to their water as well.
A blanket or a soft pet bed would be great so they feel at home.
Don’t forget the restraint device, you don’t want them flying through the windshield if you have to stop suddenly.
If your cat is traveling with you make a place for the kitty litter. Behind the front seat works well in some cars. First, lay down a piece of plastic (a trash bag will do).
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 pets from you.
You need to stop every 2 to 3 hours to let Fido stretch his legs.
NEVER LEAVE THEM ALONE IN THE CAR
Modern cars are virtually airtight and a pet left alone in a car is at risk of not getting enough air, or suffering from the heat. Even though the air temperature is only 70 degrees a car in the sun can get very hot.
OVERNIGHT IN A MOTEL
Hopefully, you checked the Pet Travel website and booked a pet-friendly hotel or motel online. If the hotel/motel charges a pet fee pay it, don’t try to hide your pet, you will spend all night worrying about being discovered.
When you arrive ask for a ground floor room near an area where you can take a walk with Fido. The center courtyard is not the right place. Be sure to pick up after your pet so that the hotel/motel will remain pet friendly.
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, or if it is cool enough for your pet to be left in the car for a half-hour or so you could go out to dinner and take them along. You may even find a pet-friendly restaurant, look for places with outdoor seating areas like sidewalk cafes.
YOU HAVE ARRIVED AT YOUR DESTINATION
Show your pet around their new home, where you have placed their food, water, and bed.
If your pet is a cat, show them the location of the kitty litter box. Fido will need to know where he is supposed to go as well.
You are now ready to enjoy your vacation in the company of your best friend.