We recently had a great time doing some read trips with our puppies here in Colorado and planning to drive to CA for Thanksgiving. With the holidays upon us, I am sure there will be a lot of people traveling with pets to Grandma’s house, etc. We have taken MANY road trips with our furry friends (over 20 states I believe) and it has sometimes been apparent that there are many dog-friendly towns. There were so many dogs walking around with their owners, enjoying the warm weather. It was so nice sitting out on a patio with other dog owners and having a beer and some pizza.
No matter where you are going, there is still the issue of the road trip itself to think about before you even get to your destination. In this article, I am going to share this guide of 10 things to think about when traveling with pets. This list includes things to do before the drive, during the drive, and after the drive. Hope they help you on your first or next road trip. With close to 20 states traveled through with our furry friends, we have learned a lot, lol.
1. Find Pet-friendly Accommodations
This is probably the most important thing about the destination you choose. Make sure that you pick a destination that is dog or cat-friendly. We always try to find a place that has a little grass area or relief area to use while staying at the hotel, Airbnb, etc. The biggest thing is to be a responsible dog owner and clean up after them as they can’t. We also like to find cities that are dog friendly so we can take them to an outside patio etc to have lunch or dinner with them because I do not like leaving them in the car even if it isn’t too hot or cold. More on that later. Traveling with pets can be done, but it may take a little bit of extra work to make it happy for you and your pets.
2. Vaccinations, Paperwork, and Microchips
Now that you have your accommodations figured out, let’s get into the ways you can protect your pet. The first of course is to make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations. It is best to let your vet know where you will be going in case they might need a separate inoculation. Not typical here in the US, but traveling with pets to a different area could put your dog or cat at a higher risk of infection for a disease that’s not common in your state or surroundings. Also, some hotels may require a Health Certificate or proof of vaccinations. Always better to be prepared before you leave. While you are at the ver getting your pet their shots, you should also think about getting them microchipped. Hopefully never will never happen where they would get away, but they could get spooked being in a new place and while on the road. If they are lost for some reason, a chip can help you reunite with them much quicker.
3. Introduce them to the car before your trip
This is usually more important if you have a small puppy or a dog that has not traveled very much in a car. If this is the case, it is extremely important that you expose them to the car BEFORE the day of travel. Hopefully, you have time for this before your trip. Start our slow, making a few short trips by just driving down the street, block, park, etc. Always reward them for good behavior by giving them a small treat. It will make the whole process more positive for everyone.
4. Things to bring on the trip
There are some basics that you need to bring on your trip besides food, water, etc. You need to make sure you have bowls for said food and water. Collaspables are nice because they don’t take as much space when not being used. They would also appreciate special treats to keep them happy as well as their dog bed and a few of their favorite toys. Also, make sure to have extra blankets and sweaters for them if the weather is cold when you need to make pit stops or potty breaks. Plus you never know if you may get stuck on the road somewhere or unfortunately have car troubles. It might be obvious to say, but also make sure to have a collar or harness, leash, and again, most importantly, poop bags. Please be a responsible pet owner. It has also been suggested to have a picture of your pets in case you were to get separated.
5. Never Leave A Pet Alone in the Car
First off, and I can’t stress this enough while traveling with pets “DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG OR CAT ALONE IN A CAR”. This is even more important during the summer months. It can take only 7 minutes for them to move into a situation where it can become fatal. Even if you crack a window, it is like a greenhouse or sauna in the car. Please don’t leave them locked up in a car that you wouldn’t want to be locked into either.
6. Safety precautions while driving
While your pet may not be happy about this, being restrained during the trip is safer for them and everyone in the car. This can be done by a harness that attaches to the car seat belt, an enclosed carrier, or even their crate that they may be familiar to them
7. Keep them hydrated
In between potty stops, make sure they have access to water to help keep them hydrated. We always make sure to have plenty of water on hand for passengers as well as pets. Another suggestion is to maybe give them some wet food while traveling instead of dry food. Apparently it can also help keep them hydrated. Just watch out for giving them too much food. More on that below.
8. Maybe skip meals on travel days
While traveling with pets may be nice for you, your pup might not be so thrilled and feel anxious. This anxiety can lead to stress diarrhea, which would not be a fun thing to deal with on a long road trip. Ugh. Some experts suggest maybe skipping or meal or only giving them half of what you normally would. Of course, you can always break it up and see how they do. You will learn pretty quickly how they will or won’t adapt.
9. Take many Potty and stretch breaks
While making sure your pet is hydrated and fed, it is just as important to make sure they are able to relieve themselves when necessary. Some people suggest mapping out pit stops, etc but we have never found that to work for us. Either we are too far from where we were planning to stop or had to stop a few miles before, etc. We usually just stop every two or three hours and this seems to work out fine. If we need a potty break, one will do doggie duty while the other one is using the facilities, and we trade-off. It’s a good system that works for us.
10. Make destination feel like home
Your pet may not feel like playing with their favorite toy while on the road, they will definitely appreciate it when you are at your destination. As I stated earlier, make sure to bring things that are familiar to them to help them feel comfortable and at home. Make sure they know where their bed, food, and water are located.
One more short note: Like I said earlier, traveling with pets is fun, and we love to travel and bring our pets along. However, we can’t always do this, especially if we are flying. Even if you are driving but you plan on spending most of your trip in places that don’t allow animals, like museums, restaurants, and theme parks, it may be best to leave your pet at a kennel or with a sitter or trusted friend. We will do this sometimes when we drive instead of leaving them locked in an unfamiliar hotel room (if they even let us) or Airbnb. NOt worth putting our fur babies through that much stress. Whatever you decide, and wherever you go, happy travels!
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5 thoughts on “Traveling With Pets: Your Guide to Driving With Your Furry Friends”
Good, timely advice. We travel often with our big black lab and do what you advise. The most important, I think, is to make sure that the pet is safely secured. We have a great harness that goes over the headrest in the back seat.
While we don’t have pets ourselves, we do have friends and family who do and know from them that travel or any other activities requires a different type of planning..
I recall one road trip we took with cousins for us (before any of us had kids) and their sweet daschund..it was certainly a unique experience and left us with treasured memories…
Our companion animals are creatures of habit. They would rather be with us, but sometimes this just is not possible. I would rather be with my dog, and she is quite the charmer. My friends enjoy when I take her with me for a visit!!