Car Trip Tips For Pets

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Author: Tracy Reis, DVM

Some pets love car trips and are ready to hop in whether it's a trip across town or across the country, while others would just as soon stay at home. Sometimes it's necessary for your pets to travel by car, so it's important to be prepared.

  • Healthy start – The last thing you need on a car trip is a sick pet, so always have your pet checked out by your veterinarian before the trip. Be sure that they are up to date on any necessary vaccinations, and get copies of their medical records, especially the rabies vaccine. This is also a good time to pick up any medications your pet is taking on an ongoing basis.
  • Plan for vehicle restraint – You have several choices from travel crates to seatbelt harnesses and vehicle pet barriers. Hundreds of animals are killed every year in automobile accidents, while those that aren’t injured in an accident may run from the car if they can get out. A pet loose in the car can also cause an accident if the driver is distracted or an overly enthusiastic pet jumps on the driver.
  • Temporary ID tag – Along with your pet’s permanent ID, you should have a temporary ID tag as well with your cell number, email address and possibly your destination address. It's also a good idea to carry a photo of your pet in the unfortunate chance that they do escape while traveling. A photo will help in identifying your pet in case they get lost.
  • Packing essentials – An ample supply of their food is necessary because it's not a good idea to change their diet while traveling. Be sure to have collapsible food and water bowls, leash, tags, litter and litter pan if traveling with cats, plenty of water and, of course, any medications your pet is on. Also remember bedding, favorite toys and a pet first aid kit.
  • Secure pet friendly accommodations – If you're taking a long trip, it's best to secure pet friendly places to stay. It's not a good idea to wait until you're on the road as pet policies may change or accommodations may be fully booked.
  • No heads out the window – As much as pets enjoy it, they can sustain injuries, especially to the eyes, by flying debris. If the window is down too low, they can also injure themselves by jumping out of a moving car. No pet should ever travel in the back of a truck unless it's in a secured crate.
  • Frequent pit stops – Always provide frequent potty and exercise stops. Be sure that your pet is on a leash at all times with their temporary and permanent ID tags. Take along some plastic bags or a pooper scooper to clean up after your pet. Most rest stops will have designated areas to walk your pet.
  • Proper hydration – On pit stops, offer your pet some fresh water to keep them hydrated. Keeping some ice cubes in a cooler can be an easy way to help keep them both busy and hydrated in their crates.
  • Watch food intake – It's best to keep feeding to a minimum while traveling, and don't give pets any foods they aren’t used to such as fast food burgers or French fries, as these foods can upset their stomach.
  • Don’t leave them alone – A car can get hot very quickly, even with the windows down. Pet theft is also on the rise, and it would be heartbreaking to come back to your car and find your pet gone.

Some pets may be nervous or get car sick when traveling. Luckily, there are some natural remedies that can help make the trip easier. To calm a nervous pet, some of the best homeopathic remedies include Sculletaria, Passiflora, Kali phos and Arg nit. For car sickness, look for Zingiber, Mentha pip, Kali phos, Aconitum nap, Cocculus or Wind flower.

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