Excerpts from Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann
The safety of our pets is paramount in our minds and hearts. Plus, we love to be with our pet and have them experience all the wonderful things the world has to show us together. Many people take their pets in their car for short rides to break up their routine and for enrichment purposes.
In addition to being mindful of the weather and heat index when leaving and traveling with pets in a car, you must also be careful to ensure they are safely harnessed in the car—after all you’re wearing a seatbelt right??? It’s the law—right? Well, did you know that it is the law in some state for animals as well?
As of this writing, eight states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island) have enacted laws requiring animals to be restrained while traveling in a vehicle.
10 Important Tips for Safe Road Trips With Your Pet
- Make sure your dog or cat is wearing a collar with a current ID tag. If your pet is microchipped, make sure the information is current in the microchip company’s database.
- Put together a travel kit for your pet. Include appropriate paperwork, food, fresh bottled water, bowls, treats, a harness and leash, and any supplements or medications your pet is taking.
- A first aid kit for emergencies is also a good idea. You can include a comb or brush, some toys and bedding. It’s also an excellent idea to include some recent pictures of your pet from various angles that would show any unique markings or any unique characteristics about her in the event (heaven forbid) she gets separated from you while traveling.
- If you plan to feed fresh or raw homemade food during the trip, obviously you need to pack an ice chest or some way to keep the food frozen. If you opt to switch to canned food for your journey, it’s important you make the dietary transition a week or so before you plan to leave, so you don’t encounter any unexpected bouts of diarrhea during your trip.
- Have clean up supplies on hand. Sometimes, there are potty accidents or vomit episodes that need cleaning up.
- Most cats won’t use a litterbox in a moving vehicle. If you make stops along the way, you can try to entice him to use the box at rest areas. It’s important to have a litterbox available when you make stops, but it also means that you’ll need a litter scoop and some plastic bags for used litter if your cat does decide to take advantage of the litterbox.
- Never open your cat’s carrier while there are any car doors or windows, even a sunroof, open. It’s a precaution you should follow religiously at all times when traveling with your cat.
- If you’re traveling with a dog, make sure his leash is attached to his harness or collar before allowing him off his travel harness or out of his travel crate.
- Don’t try to feed your pet while the car is moving. It’s best to offer a light meal a few hours before departure. If you’re traveling some distance and will be staying at a hotel in the evening, feed a second meal once your dog or cat has settled down in your room for the night. In the morning, feed some breakfast a couple hours before you get back on the road.
- Never leave your pet unattended in your car for any reason.