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Traveling With Pets Part 1: Preparing for the Trip

Date posted: 07/07/2013

by Alicia Sparks on
in Recent News

Lola in Jeep 225x300 Traveling With Pets Part 1: Preparing for the Trip

Lola is scoping out the waves on a Jeep ride to the beach in Southern California.

Spending a week at the beach? Taking a weekend trip to the mountains?

Wherever you’re headed this summer, there’s no reason you shouldn’t bring your furry or feathered friend along for the ride, too!

Traveling with pets, especially during the summer, might seem daunting, but with the right preparations, driving with your pet can be a fun and safe experience.

Prepare Your Vehicle

Make a checklist of everything you need in your car or truck to make the ride safe for everyone.


  • A pet safety kit. You can purchase a pet first aid kit at pet stores, veterinarian offices, and from animal advocacy groups. Or, you can create your own! Make sure your kit has basic supplies like bandages, antibiotic ointment, and latex gloves. You might also include blankets, tweezers, rubbing alcohol and peroxide, an eyedropper or syringe, and any special medication your pet needs.
  • Seat covers and hammocks. These are great for protecting your car seats against muddy paws and potential accidents, as well as keeping your pet from venturing up front.
  • Pet carriers and other restraints. We’ll talk more about restraining your pet later (including state laws), but for now understand that keeping your pet in a carrier or using a seatbelt harness is absolutely necessary for your pet’s safety. Dogs and cats especially have a difficult time bracing themselves against curves and speed changes.

Also, consider cleaning the inside of your vehicle. Sure, you’ll need to clean it again when you get home, but heading out in a clean car or truck cuts back on the risk your pet might ingest something dangerous or otherwise injure himself.

Prepare Your Pet

Now that your vehicle’s packed and ready to roll, check in with your pet.

  • Is your pet’s collar or harness is good shape? What about the leash?
  • Can you easily see the name, address, and contact information on your pet’s tag? If not, have another one made.
  • Does your pet have a microchip? Generally, having a microchip inserted is a quick and relatively inexpensive procedure and is more reliable than a tag if you and your pet are separated.
  • Have you taken a few shorter practice trips to get your pet ready for car traveling?
  • Has your pet recently eaten? To help prevent car sickness, some experts say it’s best to wait two-three hours after your pet eats before hitting the road.

Additional Preparation

Other items you might need include:

  • Waste disposal bags. You might consider reusing plastic grocery bags or purchasing biodegradable waste bags.
  • Food and water. Don’t forget the dishes for them! Consider space-saving collapsible bowls.
  • Litter box and accessories. Many cat owners choose to keep their cats inside the vehicle at all times, so a litter box (including extra litter, a scoop, and newspapers) are essential.

Stay tuned for helpful tips about keeping your pet safe and entertained on the road, including toys and other items to soothe your pet, how to plan for potty breaks, and what to do when you’re the only adult and YOU need to leave the vehicle.

In the meantime, what tips can you share about preparing your vehicle and your pet for driving?

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About Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for animal rights, mental health advocacy, and civil liberties. She loves yoga, tolerates running, attempts cooking, treats DMB concerts as national holidays, and dreams of the day when Timothy Olyphant and Kevin Spacey battle for her love. Check her out at More articles by Alicia Sparks

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