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  • Ashley C., CVT

How to Travel with a Dog

January 2nd is National Pet Travel Safety Day! We always want our pets to be safe and comfortable, and it is no different when they are traveling with us. For some dogs and even some cats, car rides are a blast! For others, it can be a totally different experience that isn’t so enjoyable. As pet parents, it is important to have a plan when traveling with our furry friends.


Use a Crate or Carrier

Crate training can be highly beneficial for dogs while traveling. Use a hard or sturdy carrier with plenty of space to move around. Make sure the carrier has plenty of ventilation for airflow. It may even help to put some of their toys or a blanket in the crate or carrier with them. This can keep them extra comfortable, especially if your pet has anxiety while traveling.


If your pet doesn’t tolerate a crate, consider purchasing a special seatbelt or safety harness. These are helpful safety precautions to have while driving. Also, if your dog is loose in your car, you could risk putting them in harm’s way if your car stops abruptly or gets in an accident. Making sure they are in a stable area of the vehicle can help protect them.


Do Not Leave Your Pet Unattended

Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle. If traveling a long distance, stop for bathroom breaks and give them a chance to drink cool water. It’s important to remember that your pet is not the same size as you. They will not be able to hold their bladder for as long. Also, while you may be able to drink a water bottle in the car, it will be a lot more difficult for a dog to drink from a bowl in a moving vehicle.


If you must stop somewhere while traveling, be mindful of the temperature. Never leave your dog in a hot car. This could be fatal under certain temperatures.


Keep Pet First Aid in the Car

Keep a pet first aid kit in the car - add things like bandages, tick removers, bottled water, and portable food dishes. Having a first aid kit ready for emergencies helps prevent additional stops on your journey. It also means you can address your pet’s health concerns or comfort level immediately without them having to wait. Being prepared for the unexpected can help alleviate stress in potentially stressful situations.


Keep Your Dog Comfortable

‍Throw a blanket or bed in the seat where your dog will be riding so they can rest comfortably

Get a toy, such as a Kong or other puzzle feeder for your dog before the trip. Fill it with a treat to keep them occupied for a while. A good trick is to fill it with peanut butter and put it in the freezer the night before so it keeps them occupied for longer!

Consider Supplements or Medications

If your pet gets car sick, talk to your veterinarian about anti nausea medications, such as Cerenia. Make sure you reach out with enough time to be able to pick up and try any medications before leaving on your trip.

If your dog gets anxiety while on car rides, talk to your veterinarian about the possibility of using a mild sedative to help reduce anxiety. They help promote relaxation and sleep. Make sure to get enough doses for the car ride to and from your destination. Get one extra dose of medications so you can go for a test ride before the big trip to ensure the medication is going to help.

You can also try things like Thundershirts, Adaptil, or calming supplements to help them relax during your trip.

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