Back to Client Info Index
Traveling with your Pet by Automobile
Editor Kathleen Cavanagh, DVM
If your pet is not used to riding in the car, condition your pet before a long trip by taking several short trips.
The safest way to transport a pet is in a well-ventilated crate anchored with bungy cords or the seat belt. If you have a large dog and this method is not possible, buy a dog safety belt that is available from pet catalogs or shops. Place the dog in a back seat.
Items to take along include the following:
Both dogs and cats are more susceptible to the hazardous effects of heat than are people. In hot summer months, the car should be air conditioned and the pet positioned in a place that stays cool within the vehicle. Even in air conditioned cars, pets can become overheated if the sun shines directly on them through the window. Pets are also more likely to become overheated if they are in a carrier within the car. If your pet pants, it may indicate that she is getting overheated. Cats may also lick their fur. Stop in a shady area if possible, wipe the haircoat with a wet towel, and offer plenty of drinking water. If you are travelling with your dog, stop to walk on a leash about every 2 or 3 hours to allow him or her an opportunity to do a leg stretch and go to the bathroom.
Car Safety Tips for Dogs
Avoiding Pit Stop Problems
If you are travelling alone with your pet by car, one problem to consider is how you will manage if you have to use a rest room or need to stop to get a bite to eat. Most gas stations with bathrooms accessed from within the building and most food establishments will not let you bring a pet inside. If it is very hot, you cannot leave your pet in the car without air conditioning, even with the windows cracked, and you cannot leave your pet in the car with the engine running because your pet and your car could be stolen.
To avoid this dilemma, try to identify gas stations or other places ahead of time with outdoor-access bathrooms that will allow you to take your pet into the bathroom with you. Take food along in the car for yourself so you will not need to stop at a restaurant.
If it is cool outside and you have to leave the pet inside the car for a few minutes, crack windows to provide ventilation. To reduce the risk of your pet being stolen, park in a place that is in public view, preferably one that you can watch from indoors, and lock the doors.
Car Sickness in Dogs
Just like some people, some dogs get motion sickness. Consult your veterinarian about medications that may help control the problem.
Other dogs get sick because they are upset and anxious travelling
in the car. In these cases, the problem can sometimes be solved
by gradually conditioning the dog to car rides. Start by sitting
in the car with your dog and offering treats and praise to make
it a positive experience. Once you have done this several times,
begin taking your dog on short trips, such as a drive around the
block. Continue to provide positive reinforcement. If your dog
is comfortable, gradually increase the length of the car trips
Larry Tilley's Recommended Info site (www.VetMedCenter.com)