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5 Top Tips for Traveling by Car with Your Dog

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This season, there will probably be many people traveling with their furry kids in tow. From small breeds to larger ones, a good travel list is always handy. Since travel can be hectic anyway, we thought a well planned strategy will make it safer, easier, and more enjoyable to travel with fido.

Here are the 5 Top Tips for Traveling by Car with Your Dog:

1. Food, Water and Meds

Road trips are not the time to try new foods — at least as far as your pet is concerned. Remember, your pet is not accustomed to holding it in until the next rest stop, so a bad case of digestive upset can very quickly turn into the ugliest ride of your life. Make sure that you take enough food to last until you get home again, and stick to the treats your pet is already used to having. You might even want to think about filling a jug of water from home, to minimize any chance of digestive problems. Collapsible pet bowls are perfect for trips like this, as you can stash them in your pocket and fill them for rest stop breaks.

Before you leave for your trip, take notice on how much water your pet digests throughout the day. This will give you hints as to how much to have with you during your trip to your destination. Also, if your pet takes any medications, make sure you have enough to cover the entire trip. And add an extra day or two of doses. They are a good idea to pack in case an emergency arises.

2. All Your Contact info on Your Pet’s Collar

These tips are to give you the best chances for a safe and stress free trip. Go ahead and purchase a collar and/or tag with all your contact info on it if you haven’t already. And then make sure it is securely around your dog’s neck. If for some reason you should lose your pet during a road trip, the best chance of having it returned to you may be that tag or collar.

We have heard stories of small and big dogs that had to run away to protect their lives because another dog came at them at a rest stop (true story). Be prepared. In fact, if you are reading this well in advance of a trip, you might consider having your pet micro-chipped or tattooed, to make identification foolproof. We also think microchips can be useful, just make sure you keep the contact information linked to the account updated. Otherwise, it’s just a really expensive accessory that does nothing for your pet’s fashion sense.

3. No Front Seat for Fido

This might be the toughest tip of all. We know you love your little fur-baby, but the front seat is no place for an animal. That means no holding your pet on your lap while you drive. And no pets on the passenger side seat.

Even if your dog is big enough for the passenger side seatbelt to fit over him, he would still be at risk even in the smallest of accidents if the airbag should deploy. Especially if he or she slid over or under the belt. Seat belts and airbags are designed for the adult sized human body, and dogs are not physically equipped for either of them. The results could be fatal.

And you are correct, there are seat belts and harnasses designed for dogs, but opt for the crate.

4. Pet Carrier

Think of a pet carrier as your pets car seat, no matter what age they are. One of the most common injuries in pets is due to accidents inside cars. No matter the size of your dog, it will be better off in a travel crate. You’re probably a super safe driver, but not everyone else is. In a worst case scenario, the last thing you want is for your pet to be thrown from the car. Remember, even pet carriers can be thrown through windows in the course of an accident.

So make sure you tie the crate down, either on the floor of the back seat or on the back seat with the seat belt. Some travel crates for cars are specifically designed with seat belt guides fitted into the carrier. However, any crate can be secured in place using ropes or bungee cords. This will not only lower the risk that the crate goes flying, it will also lessen the chances your pet suffers from motion sickness. Also, never let your dog roam around a car freely. Excited dogs will move from one side of the car to the other to take in all the sights. And if they crawl on you, that could cause an accident.

5. Emergency Travel Kit

Creating a dog first aid kit is essential. Here is a starter list, but by all means add to it anything special for your dogs possible needs.
– Roll of gauze
– Bandages that are specially made to stay on animals
– Pain reliever that has been pre-approved by your veterinarian for your pet’s weight and age
– Hydrogen peroxide — both for cleaning wounds and for inducing vomiting
– Antibiotic ointment
– Anti-nausea medicine (again, pre-approved by your veterinarian)
– A current photo of your pet
– Plastic bags for picking up after your pet
– Manual can opener
– Proof of rabies shots (remember, you’re prepared for anything)
– Extra toys
– Disinfecting or Baby wipes — good for cleaning your pet, and yourself
– Paper towels, for cleaning the car
– Extra dog collar and leash
– A blanket or beach towel large enough to wrap around your pet if it needs to be constrained

Hopefully these 5 Top Tips for Traveling by Car with Your Dog make your adventure more fun.

Also, check in with your vet and tailor the list above to your needs and your dog’s needs. Everyone is different. Happy travels!

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