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Small dog in the front seat

Pets and car travel

Pet parents are always looking for ways to include the family dogs and cats in their adventures and that means, for the most part, car trips! Before you and your pets get into the car and hit the road you want to take steps to ensure their safety.

We have put together our best trips on how to travel safely with your pet.

  • Preplanning matters. Make a list of what you will need for each of your pets and have it within sight when you’re getting ready that you have everything your pup and kitty need. Make a checklist on your computer or in a notebook, copy it and then you’ll have it every time you hit the road.
  • Know where pet-friendly and pet-welcoming stops are along the way. Are you going to need to spend the night in a hotel or are you doing a day trip? If you’re doing a day trip will you be stopping along the way for a meal or visit a hiking trail? Do those places accept pets? (Make sure you bring poo bags to clean up after your pup)
  • Bring along a food and water bowl and your pet’s favorite food. Bring water from home. It may not upset your dog’s tummy to drink water from a location that’s not home, but for some dogs even that little change in routine can led to tummy issues.
  • Your pet (cats, too) should wear collars with his or her name on it and your contact information. You may increase your chances of being reunited with your beloved pet if he is wearing a collar. Microchipping is also another way to help ensure a reunion.
  • Bring along copies of important paperwork. What paperwork? Your pet’s veterinarian records with up to date shot records, your cat and dog pet insurance policies, microchip information and numbers.
  • Not many pet parents think of this – photos of you with your pets (proof they are yours). If you have a dog who gets groomed – like Poodles – take a before and after photo of them; they sometimes look like different dogs after they’re groomed.
  • Make sure your pets are safely ensconced in a pet-safe car carrier or in a harness that will keep them safe in the event of a crash or even a hard braking! Your pets are safer in the backseat so they aren’t injured if the airbags go off. Invest in a screen that separates the backseat from the front as an additional layer of safety for your pet. Use shades on the back car windows to keep the sun off them.

Other Considerations

Don’t let your dog or cat roam freely in the car – it could be very dangerous. In fact, if you’re in an accident or even if you have to slam on the brakes, your pet could get injured. In an accident, if your car doors get opened and your pets are not secured, there is a chance they could dash off into a strange area and be lost. Don’t let that happen.

If you’re planning a road trip and your dog isn’t accustomed to riding in the car (whether you have a puppy or a newly adopted older dog) take short trips around your home first. Don’t put your dog in a carrier and take off on a multi-hour car trip if you aren’t sure how he or she will react. You may also need to work with your pet to get accustomed to wearing the car harness.

Have fun! During this time of coronavirus, it’s nice to just get away and explore. Take a trip to somewhere new and different. Take photos to memorialize the fun you and your family, friends and furry family members are having! Remember: Take it slow. Drive safely. Have fun!

Editor’s Note: Every year hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles, learn how to keep your furry friend safe and what to do if you see a pet in potential danger.


Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words MatterMy Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.

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