Some people love a good adventure, while others have work obligations that keep them on the move. If you are constantly on the go, you may want your pet along for the ride. Our team at Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic wants to offer tips to make traveling with your pet safe and enjoyable.

#1: Prepare your pet for the trip

Pets enjoy a routine, and when their environment changes, they can become anxious and stressed. Allow your pet to adjust to car travel before taking them on an extended trip. Considerations include:

  • Pet carrier — Allow your pet to get used to their carrier by placing the carrier in a location where they typically rest or play, and place treats and toys in the carrier to entice them to go inside. Leave the carrier out for an extended period, so your pet becomes comfortable and recognizes the carrier as a safe zone. 
  • Car — Once your pet is comfortable in their carrier, place them inside, and introduce them to your car. Keep larger pets leashed so they are under your control at all times. Sit in the back seat with your pet, and allow them time to observe their new surroundings.
  • Car noise — When your pet seems calm inside your car, crank the vehicle to gauge their response. Ensure you aren’t inside a garage for this step. You can turn on the radio and the air conditioner to let them get used to these sounds.
  • Car ride — Once your pet has adjusted to the vehicle engine running, take them for a brief ride around the block. Have someone ride in the back with your pet to help keep them calm. You can gradually increase the trip length over several sessions, until they are comfortable with car travel.

#2: Keep your pet restrained

An unrestrained pet can distract you and cause a traffic accident. Keep your pet restrained while you are driving to ensure everyone remains safe. Pet restraint methods include:

  • Carrier — A pet carrier is the safest way to restrain small dogs and cats. The carrier should be secured to the backseat or placed on the floor. 
  • Seat belt harness — Larger dogs can be kept safe with a seat belt harness.
  • Pet barrier — You can also confine your pet to the back cargo hold using a pet barrier.

#3: Schedule a veterinary appointment

Traveling can be stressful for pets, and underlying health conditions may be exacerbated. Schedule a veterinary appointment with our veterinary professionals at Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic, so we can ensure they are healthy for your upcoming trip. We will perform a thorough physical examination, and may recommend diagnostics, such as blood work and urinalysis. You may also need a veterinary appointment to obtain a health certificate. If you are crossing state lines, or flying, your pet will require a health certificate signed by an accredited veterinarian. Many airlines require that the document be dated within 10 days of your departure, so check with your airline carrier for their pet policies.

#4: Microchip your pet

If your pet gets nervous in unfamiliar locations and may run away, microchipping them gives you the best chance of being reunited. Microchipping is a simple procedure that provides permanent identification for your pet. In addition, ensure your pet always wears a collar and tags with your current contact information.

#5: Pack for your pet

Once your suitcase is ready, pack supplies for your pet, including:

  • Food and water — Diet changes can cause gastrointestinal upset for pets, and you don’t want to risk not finding their particular brand at pet food stores along your route. Pack enough food to ensure they have plenty to eat for your trip’s duration. Also, bring along water and offer your pet frequent drinks. Don’t forget your pet’s food and water bowls, so you can easily feed and water them whenever necessary.
  • Toys — Pack your pet’s favorite toys to keep them occupied during the trip. Food puzzle toys will keep them distracted and entertained during a long car ride.
  • Medications — If your pet receives medication, ensure you have enough for your trip’s duration. In addition, if you will be gone for an extended period, ensure you pack your pet’s monthly parasite prevention medications.
  • Plastic bags — Ensure you have a good plastic bag supply to clean up after your pet.
  • Litter — If you are traveling with your cat, ensure you have litter, a litter box, and a litter scoop.
  • Cleaning supplies — Keep paper towels and disinfectant spray on hand in case your pet has an accident.
  • Treats — Pack a good treat supply to reward your pet for their best behavior.
  • Pet first aid kit — Pack a pet first aid kit in case your pet has an accident.

#6: Prepare for a veterinary emergency

Research veterinary emergency clinics along your route and at your final destination to ensure you know where to take your pet in a veterinary emergency. You don’t want to take time finding the closest veterinary emergency clinic if your pet needs immediate veterinary care.

Traveling with your pet can be a great experience if you follow these easy tips. If you are taking your pet on your next trip, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic, so we can ensure they are travel ready.