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Tips For Road Trips With Pets

Traveling with our furry buddies can be fun and memorable! Before you hit the road there is much to consider to prepare for anything unexpected while away from home. Here are some tips for making preparation and travel smooth and pleasant.

Preparation for Your Trip

  • Prior to the trip, check that your pet is current on vaccinations and parasite prevention and has a plentiful supply of any necessary medications. Prepare for the unexpected and bring a copy of the vaccine paperwork, rabies certificate, and medication prescriptions with you too, just in case!
  • Confirm that your pet’s collar or harness fit well so no one wiggles out if they get nervous. Ensure the identification tags and microchip registration are up to date with your cell phone number and address.  
  • Confirm your hotel is pet-friendly and has a copy of any required paperwork.
  • Weeks prior to the trip, start taking your pet for short car rides and consider a refresh on crate training. This helps to decrease anxiety associated with traveling or being confined. Treats and positive reinforcement can make your pup much happier about this process too!
  • If your pet shows signs of anxiety/stress or becomes car sick during rides, be sure to chat with a veterinarian several weeks in advance of your trip so that we can help customize a plan for stress-free travel. Any potential medications prescribed should be tested at home first to see how your pet reacts and minimize surprises on the road.
  • Pack your pet’s favorite bedding, blankets, toys, and supplies for comfort and familiar scents from home.
  • Be sure to pack enough food and treats to last the entire trip (and then some)! Running out and needing to change foods on the road can cause stomach and intestinal upset, especially if your pet is also experiencing any stress and anxiety due to travel. Bring plenty of waste bags as well.

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Keeping Your Pet Safe and Comfortable on the Road

  • The safest spot for your small dog or cat is in a crate or secured with a leash/harness system to ensure a comfortable ride. A pet loose in the car may be distracting, potentially interfere with the driver, and can escape during stops!
  • Pack portable food and water bowls and plenty of accessible food and treats for the road. Plan to stop every few hours to give your pet some water and a snack. 
  • Take potty breaks every couple of hours so your dog can stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Be sure your waste bags are accessible! For cats, it is not recommended to remove them from their kennel as they are likely nervous and may attempt to flee. Small disposable litter trays can be brought along for cats and kept in a corner of their crate.
  • Using calming sprays and collars like Adaptil (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) can help your pet feel more comfortable in the car. If supplements and/or medications are used for anxiety, take care to adhere to your veterinarian’s dosing guidelines.
  • Never leave your pet in the car unattended! Inside temperatures can rise to dangerous levels in just a few minutes, even if the windows are cracked and temperatures seem mild. 
  • Upon arrival to new locations take care to leash dogs and closely monitor cats who may be nervous in unfamiliar surroundings and may try to flee. Taking dogs for walks to expend some of that pent-up energy can help them settle in.

Enjoy that trip! Always remember that AskVet is at the ready to answer your questions and help with any issues while you are out on the open road with your favorite furry friends!


Written by:

Alexa Waltz, DVM
Dr. Waltz was raised near the beaches of Southern California but has spent her adult life living all over the beautiful United States while serving in the military and as a military spouse. She left California for the first time to pursue a career as a veterinarian at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. She was accepted into the US Army Health Professionals Scholarship Program during vet school and upon graduation spent her military years as a veterinarian in San Diego working for the US Marine Corps and US Navy Military Working Dog programs as well as caring for pets of service members. After her military service, she became a civilian veterinarian and continued as a small animal general practitioner at clinics in California, Rhode Island, Colorado, and Maryland. Dr Waltz loves to see her “in person” patients just as much as communicating with and assisting pet parents virtually on AskVet. Dr Waltz is also a Mom to 3 humans, 2 guinea pigs, and 1 Australian Shepherd and in her spare time she loves traveling, adventures, exercising, and doing just about anything out in nature!


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