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How to Travel Safely with Your Pets in the Car

Dog riding in car

Whether you’re planning a summer road trip or just need to get your pet to the vet, driving with animals in the car is a challenge. As much as you might hope that Fido or Fifi will love the great outdoors, you may end up dealing with an anxious, carsick pet.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to mitigate the stress on both you and your pet.

Make Sure Your Car Is Pet Friendly

The most important part of this process is ensuring that your vehicle is prepped. That means getting the right size pet carrier or crate for each of your pets. You should also have bedding, old towels, and a favorite toy or two. Cats will need a litter box, and you might want to put down a puppy pad or two in case your pet has an accident.

It might also be a good idea to clean out your car; the last thing you want is for your pet to go after a forgotten fast food wrapper and cause chaos in the car.

Do a Test Run

Before taking a long trip, take your pet on a cruise around the neighborhood a few times. They should get used to the idea that the car is nothing to be afraid of. Avoid playing loud music or driving too fast. And if you are driving with a dog, let them have some fresh air!

Remember to keep your pet restrained while driving. Scared or overly enthusiastic pets can cause distracted driving.

Pack Emergency Supplies

Your car should contain an emergency kit for all passengers–including pets. Stock enough water for everyone, as well as food, pet treats, and other supplies. Make sure you have an extra leash, collar, or harness, just in case.

Check State Laws

Many states require that a pet is secured in a moving vehicle. It’s as much for your safety as theirs! Hawaii, Arizona, Maine, Connecticut, Arizona, and New Jersey all have laws against driving with your pet in your lap.

Certificates and Insurance

If you’re traveling between states, you should have your pet’s veterinary inspection certificate on hand. In addition, if you have pet insurance you should check to see if you will be able to use it with an emergency vet or a clinic out of state.

Never Leave Them in a Hot Car

Finally, never leave pets in a hot car–not even for “just a minute.” Temperatures can rise to dangerous levels very quickly. Cold can also be a problem, so whenever possible, take your pet with you when you leave the car.


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