Car rides can be stressful for a pet if they are not used to traveling. It is a good idea to start with smaller car trips in their carrier or in a harness seat belt and just go down the driveway and work up to around the block, or to the park and back. This is especially true for cats as they rarely go into their carrier and in a car unless they are going to the vet’s office! For cats, it helps them if you leave their carrier out at all times with toys, a bed, some catnip, or treats just so they get used to seeing it and don’t automatically associate the carrier with a car ride.
Here are some helpful articles about cat and dog travel in a car:
- cat travel behavior and training
- air and car travel in dogs, behavior training life learn
- car travel w/ your dog life learn
While on the road trip, it is important to take frequent breaks to get fresh air and let your dog eliminate. Never let your dog hang their head out of the window. Debris can hurt them (the eyes are particularly vulnerable) and some dogs may see something exciting and try to jump out. Obviously for cats you don’t want them outside of the car, but you can allow them time outside of their carrier while the car is parked, to have access to a litter box, food and water.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET UNATTENDED IN A CAR FOR ANY PERIOD OF TIME! It is far too hot and dangerous to ever leave your pet unattended in a car. Even if it is cold outside, an unattended pet is usually a pet that gets into trouble by rummaging through luggage. You want to especially be careful of your pet having any access to your human medications or their own medications as they can be toxic. Here are some helpful links to search for pet friendly hotels and restaurants around the country:
Nation-wide search of dog-friendly hotels, events, campgrounds, parks, beaches, dining, and skiing
It is going to be very important to plan your trip in a very detailed manner that is comfortable for both you and your pet. Designate rest stops and places to stay overnight based on businesses that allow pets. If in the unfortunate event your pet does get a hold of an unwanted substance like people medications or all of their year’s supply of rimadyl in one sitting, here is a link to animal poison control you can call and a searchable list of emergency veterinary clinics by state:
Hopefully, you will not need any emergency veterinarians or poison control hotlines, but like they say, “Always be prepared!”