How to Handle Pets on Family Road Trips

If you think long car rides can be stressful for the two legged, imagine what it’s like for pets in cars. They’re suddenly yanked from their comfortable surroundings and thrown into a confined space that’s moving at a high rate of speed.

Make Sure That a Family Road Trip with Your Pet Doesn’t Turn into a Nightmare:

Safety First

It’s important to stay focused on the road.  As a rule, bring along a pet carrier to keep your four-legged friends confined and to prevent them from distracting your by roaming around inside the car.

Be sure to pick a well ventilated portable dog kennel that’s big enough for them to lie down in comfortably.  If you’re involved in an accident, a crate can also help to minimize any injuries to your pet. If you’re traveling into another state, it’s also a good idea to be aware of leash laws in advance so that you don’t get yourself into trouble once you’re back on terra firma.

Pack Smart and Comfy

Comfort is key to lessening the stress of a long car trip for your pet. For this reason, throw away any ideas of balancing old Sparky on the roof of your car and pull out all the stops when it comes to providing them with a comfortable place to nest until the ride’s over. Bring blankets, favorite toys, and don’t forget a healthy supply of food and water.

When transporting the family dog, it’s important to bring along a leash and collar so that they can get out and stretch their legs from time to time. Keeping your dog leashed during pit stops will keep them near and ensure they don’t run away or stray into the path of other vehicles. The same idea goes for the family cat. Instead of keeping them locked up for hours on end inside your car, invest in a cat collar and leash so that they can take part in roadside stops without getting lost or hurt. Other necessities include pet wipes to clean up after your pet if they have any accidents, and baggies to pick up after them at rest areas along the road.

Keeping Your Pet Hydrated

Nervousness, overexposure to heat, and diarrhea can exacerbate the effects of dehydration. In extreme cases, dehydration can be deadly. The most important thing to do is to learn the signs of dehydration in your pet so you can head it off before it becomes a serious condition. Lethargy is one sign of possible dehydration, just as is a loss of skin elasticity and sunken eyes. Dry or pale gums is another sign, as is excessive or no urination (both are warning signs of dehydration at various levels of progression). Make periodic pit stops to check on your pet’s condition and to ensure they’re not straying dangerously close to dehydration.

Seek Pet-Friendly Accommodations in Advance

If you’re going to be on the road for more than a day, you’re probably going to have to stop somewhere to rest for the night. Traveling alone or with other human beings makes it a lot easier to just find someplace along the way and crash for the night. Bringing along the family pet can make this difficult since not all hotels and motels are pet friendly. Rather than forcing your pet to spend the night in the car, map a route and make lodging reservations at establishments that welcome all walks of furry life.

Photo credits: Pat Vanden Bosche

Openbay Staff