Picture this: you’re driving down the highway, your favorite music is playing on the stereo, and you’ve got your four-legged best friend along for the ride. Does this sound like an ideal road trip to you?
For many pet owners, this would be a dream come true. However, traveling with your favorite critters is a whole different animal (pun intended). It requires a bit more planning than if you were just bringing humans along for the ride.
Check out our tips for road tripping with your pets before you hit the road.
Before Your Trip…
Book an Appointment With Your VetYou’ll want to make sure your pet is up to date on all their shots and has enough of any medication they may need for the trip. You’ll also want to check with your vet to see if they’ll need any additional meds for the destination you’re headed to; some parts of the country are more prone to fleas and ticks, so it never hurts to be prepared.
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Check With Your Destination
If you’re planning on taking your pet across state lines, there may be paperwork you’ll need to have with you. You’ll also want to make sure your destination is pet friendly; not all hotels or campsites allow pets, so give your lodging a call ahead of time. It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry! USA Today found these chain hotels that are all extremely pet friendly.
You’ll also want to have the number for an emergency pet hospital in the area you’re visiting, in case your furry friend should have any problems on the trip.
Plan Your Route
Plan for your trip to take a little longer for potty and exercise breaks for your four-legged companion. Pinpoint some dog parks along your route to give them a safe place to stretch their legs during a long drive. This will also be a nice break for you from getting too cramped while driving.
Update Their Tags
No one wants to get separated from their pet on a long trip, but you should always be prepared. Make sure their tags and microchip information are up to date. Make sure the number listed is your cell phone number, so you can be contacted on-the-go.
During Your Trip…
Pack a Pet Bag
Pack a separate bag with essentials for your pet. It will be much easier to find anything they might need on the trip if you keep their things separate from yours.
Here is a general check list of what you should bring:
• Enough pet food for the entire trip
• A food bowl
• Fresh water
• A water bowl
• Toys and other special comforts from home
• Blankets and towels
• A pet bed
• Any medications they need
In addition to this list, make sure you have anything specific to the region you’re going to or for any activities you are planning on. For example, if you are going somewhere colder, you may want to consider a sweater or booties for your pet. Also, if you are going to be doing anything near water, pet life vests can literally be lifesavers.
Restrain Your Pet
While having them ride shot gun may seem like an ideal place for your pet, it can be very dangerous for both of you. Keeping them in a safety approved crate or carrier will keep them safe in case of an accident, and will keep them from distracting you too much while you’re driving. In some states, it’s even required by law that you keep your pet properly restrained while driving.
NEVER Leave Your Pet Alone in The Car
On warm days, your car can quickly overheat, even if you park in the shade and leave the windows rolled down. On the other hand, on days when the temperature is below freezing, your car can become an ice box. Do your pet a favor and never leave them alone in the car.
Make Frequent Stops
Ideally, you should give your pet a break from the car once every four hours. If you brought your cat along, you should let them out of their carrier to use their litter box every four hours as well. This will hopefully prevent them from having any accidents, and it will make for smooth sailing until you reach your destination.
Have you ever taken your pet with you on a road trip? Let us know about your experience and any advice you might have for other pet owners on our Facebook page!