Women Drivers Blog

How to Travel Safely in Car with Pets

June 12, 2017 / 

Tips for safe and comfortable travel
Family pets are often considered members of the family, and more and more people take their dogs and cats with them on vacation. Read our tips to help make your auto trip more enjoyable and safe for everyone.

Restraints are a must
Your pet should never run loose in your car. There are several reasons why a loose pet is a safety hazard. At a minimum, your dog or cat can distract the driver. In an accident, an unrestrained pet can be propelled forward, injuring the pet and others in the car. Even if your pet isn’t injured in the accident, the frightening experience can cause your dog or cat to run away if the car door opens. Keep your pet contained in a crate with enough room to stand and turn around, or use a harness and leash. See the Center for Pet Safety (centerforpetsafety.org) for ratings on restraint equipment.

Weather is a factor
Travel in summer or winter can expose your pet to uncomfortable and dangerous temperatures. Unless you can ensure that your pet won’t be left in a blazing hot or freezing cold car, it is best to leave your animal at home. If they need to travel with you, bring warm blankets or sunshades to help keep the car’s temperature at a tolerable level.

Did You Know?
According to the ASPCA, in 80-degree weather, a car’s interior can rise to 99 degrees in 10 minutes. After 20 minutes, the temperature can rise to 109. Pets do not have the ability to cool themselves efficiently in hot temperatures and can go into shock and die of heat stroke.

Food and water
Bring plenty of water and food for your furry friend. Try to keep them on the same food they eat when they are home. Changing diets can cause gastric distress.

Rest breaks
Plan to stop every two or three hours to let your pet stretch and use the bathroom. Be sure to carry a short leash and keep your pet restrained when outside. Unfamiliar areas can cause pets to panic and run.

Add a temporary tag to your pet’s collar with the address and phone where you will be staying. Be sure to bring a copy of your pet’s medical records with you. If your pet requires medications, be sure to bring an adequate supply for your trip, plus extra in case of delay.

Many motels, hotels and campgrounds allow pets, but be sure and do your homework in advance. Some lodgings have a weight or size limit, and charge an additional fee. Pet travel sites like GoPetFriendly.com can help you plan your trip without surprises.

Test Drives
Unless you travel often with your pet, it is a good idea to prepare your pet by taking shorter drives to ensure your pet will travel well. Some pets become car sick or anxious, especially if their only car trips have been to the veterinarian.
Taking time to prepare and plan, as well as carrying the right equipment and supplies for your pet, can help keep you and your four-legged family members happy and safe.