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11 Car Travel Tips With Pets You Should Know

Roadtrips with Pets - Tips you need to know
Stacey Martin
Stacey Martin
September 23, 2022

There's nothing like setting out on a road trip with your dog or cat by your side. But before you load up the car and hit the gas, consider these 11 car travel tips with pets to ensure a safe and comfortable trip for your four-legged friend.

1. Help Your Pet Acclimate to the Car

Dog in the back of the car

If your pet isn't used to being in the car, it's a good idea to take them on a series of short drives before embarking on a big road trip. As your pet acclimates, gradually increase the length of your car rides. This will help reduce their stress and make them more comfortable when it comes time to hit the road for a longer trip.

2. Visit the Vet

If your pet is overdue for an annual vet visit, then schedule an appointment. The risk of illness is higher when traveling, so it's crucial to ensure your pet is up-to-date on their vaccinations. Be sure also to get a health certificate from your vet if you're traveling across state lines. This document confirms that your pet is up-to-date on rabies vaccination and other annual shots.

3. Make Sure Your Car Is Roadtrip Ready

Unexpected car trouble can complicate any road trip, but it can be especially stressful when you have your pet. Before you hit the road, have your car serviced to avoid any problems. D-1 Auto Body in Los Angeles offers full-service auto repair and maintenance - perfect for getting your car ready for a road trip.

4. Ensure Your Pet Has Proper Identification

Ensure your pet has a collar with up-to-date identification tags, including your cell phone number. Their ID tag should be attached to the collar securely, so it doesn't fall off during your travels. If your pet is microchipped, update your contact information with the microchip provider.

5. Plan Your Route

Before you set out on your journey, map out a pet-friendly route to your final destination. Not all hotels and rest stops allow pets, so planning is important. You'll also want to make sure you have a list of pet-friendly restaurants and attractions at your final destination in case you want to hit the town with your furry friend once you arrive.

6. Feed Your Dog or Cat a Few Hours Before Setting Off

Dog holding his food bowl

Feeding your pet a few hours before you hit the road will help reduce the chances of car sickness. Avoid feeding them a big meal before you get in the car, as this is more likely to cause nausea. Once they've eaten, pack an ample supply of pet food and water that will last for the duration of the trip.

7. Exercise Your Pet Before Getting in the Car

Long road trips can make even the most mellow pets feel antsy, so you'll want to ensure they've gotten enough exercise before getting in the car. A good game of fetch or a long walk will help tire them out, making them more likely to relax during the drive. They'll also be less likely to bark or pace back and forth, distracting you while you're driving.

8. Safely Secure Your Pet

Your pet should always ride safely secured in the car, whether using a pet seatbelt or a crash-tested pet carrier. Unrestrained pets can be seriously injured or killed in an accident and can also be a distraction to you while driving. In an accident, a pet properly secured in the car is also more likely to stay calm and be easier to control.

9. Create a Comfortable Space for Your Pet

Whether your pet is riding in a carrier or simply secured to the car seat with a seatbelt, you'll want to ensure their space is comfortable. This starts with ensuring enough room for them to move around a bit. If they're in a carrier, make sure they're not too cramped and have enough ventilation. You may also consider putting their favorite blanket in their space to help them feel more at home. You can also add a toy to keep them occupied during the drive.

10. Make Frequent Stops

Giving water to a puppy

You'll need to make frequent stops on your road trip to allow your pet to stretch their legs, use the restroom, and get some fresh air. This will help to keep them from getting too stir-crazy during the drive. If possible, try to plan your stops around meal times so you can feed and walk your pet at the same time. Try to follow your regular routine as much as possible to help your pet feel more comfortable during the trip.

11. Don't Leave Your Pet Unattended

Never leave your pet unattended in the car when you make a rest stop. It can get very hot inside a car, even on mild days, and your pet can suffer from heatstroke if left in a car for too long. If you're traveling with another person, take turns staying with the pet while the other person goes inside. If you're traveling alone, bring your pet to pet-friendly establishments.

From planning ahead with a general auto repair appointment to taking your pet on a test drive, there's a lot to think about when it comes to car travel with your dog or cat. Following these car travel tips with pets can help keep your pet safe and comfortable while ensuring the experience is enjoyable for everyone involved.