Road Trips With Pets: Preparation is Key

If you have children, you know how trying a road trip can be. Children waste no time in letting you know they are either hungry, sick or bored. You do everything in your power to make them as comfortable and entertained as possible. Do you do the same when you take a pet on a road trip? Many people do not realize that pets need the same preparation and care as children in order to ensure a smooth ride and a content pet. Here are some tips for making your pet's travel experience a positive one.

Pets need familiarity. They get anxious and sometimes frightened by new places and strange sounds, such as a car engine. Your pet will be more content and comforted if you bring along his favorite toy and a familiar blanket. Make a little bed for him on the floorboard in the back seat, and he will be better able to rest or sleep.

Be sure you pack any supplies your pet may need while you are on the road. Of course, he will need food and food dishes. You can bring water from home in a jug or bottle for quick drinks. An old towel may come in handy for quick wipe-ups, as pets often get car-sick.

Just like humans, pets need frequent rest stops in order to stretch their legs, eat, drink and get a potty break! Be sure to bring a leash, as most rest stops require pets to be leashed. Walking your pet can also give you a chance to move around and get in some walking. It is not good to sit for extended periods of time, including during car travel.

You can comfort an anxious pet by talking soothingly to him during the ride. Pets know their owner's voice, and immediately calm down when they hear it. Reaching back for a quick ruffle of his fur can give him added security and let him know you are there.

If your pet gets car-sick, a good idea is to bring along a plastic bag and a water-proof pad used for babies' cribs to put under his blanket. A common cause of car-sickness is lack of fresh air. When traveling with your pet, keep the windows cracked open an inch or two in the back seat to give him some fresh air to breathe. If there is no rest stop in sight to let him out, clean-up will be quick and easy. Just fold up the pad and dispose of it in the plastic bag at the next stop.

Most importantly, NEVER leave your pet unattended in a hot car, even for a few minutes. It may be only 80 degrees outside, but after a few minutes, the temperature in a car can spike up to over 100 degrees. This is not only cruel and uncomfortable for your pet, it can endanger his life as well. Cracking the windows is not enough to keep an animal alive in a hot car. Instead, always leave a responsible family member with your pet who can take him out for a walk and remove him from the heat. This may mean no stops at fancy restaurants, but your pet's health is more important!

As you can see, pets are a lot like children when it comes to car travel. Keep them comfortable, comforted and entertained, and you should have a peaceful ride with very few mishaps.

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