Road-Tripping with Your
(Four-Footed) Best Friend
White Maltese dog wearing sunglasses looking out a car window
Maybe it’s a weekend getaway. Maybe it’s a months-long journey across the country. Maybe you just want to take your cat to Vegas. Regardless, if you’re a dog or cat lover, you probably don’t want to leave your best pal in the dust when you pile into your Datsun. Unless your pet is uncomfortable in new environments — such as the car or motels — or doesn’t like to meet new people, most pets could use a vacation as much as you can. Even cats with the right temperament may be good travel companions. Here are a few tips to help make the road trip a success. Swing by your veterinary clinic Let your veterinarian know about where you plan to travel with your pet. In some cases, the doctor may recommend additional vaccines or parasite control to help protect your pet. Make sure to bring vaccination records and any medications on the trip. Protect your pet from getting lost Always attach a leash before opening a car door to prevent your pet from getting loose. Check that your pet is wearing an ID tag with your mobile phone number, and call the microchip company to make sure they have your most current contact information. Or better yet, consider outfitting your pet with a GPS collar. Plan for a safe ride You’d never let a child ride in a car unrestrained. The same rule applies to your pet. Pets should ride in an area of the car where they can’t distract the driver, such as in the rear cargo area of an SUV. It’s also best to keep pets, especially small ones, out of the front passenger seat where they could be injured by an airbag. They should be either in a crate that’s securely tied down to prevent shifting or buckled into a harness or restraint. And remember, car interiors can heat up fast, so never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle even if the windows are down. Avoid car sickness If your pet isn’t used to riding in a car, you can get them accustomed to it in the weeks before the trip. Try spritzing their carrier with pheromones, which can have a calming effect. Start with very short rides. Zip around the block, and then gradually increase the length of the drive. Provide positive reinforcement by driving to a dog park or providing a treat after the ride. If your pet seems nauseated, consult your veterinarian for motion sickness medications. When on the road, stop every few hours to give your pet fresh water, a potty break and a chance to stretch his or her legs. Book pet-friendly hotels Before you go, check out sites like and to make sure you have a welcoming room at the end of the drive. As for taking your cat to Las Vegas? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but maybe this time what happens is that the kitty stays home.

prey magazine