Top Tips for Car Travel With Your Pets When You Move

by Kim SalernoMay 18, 2017

The car is packed, the kids are loaded in and you are all set to start that road trip to your new home! If your family includes four-legged fur babies, you’ll want to take some extra measures to ensure their journey is a happy and safe one! With some prep and plans in place, the trip will go smoothly as you travel to your destination. Here are our top tips for traveling in the car with your pet.

What to Do Before You Leave

Happy and Healthy Start

Before you hit the road, it’s a good idea to take your pet to the vet for a complete checkup and to be sure that he is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations. His clean bill of health will assure you that he is healthy for traveling to your new residence.

Keep Your Pet Safe

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Well in advance of your trip, decide how you will keep your pet secured in your vehicle during your move. Keeping pets safely secured in a vehicle is a “must” that is often disregarded. It is not uncommon for a pet to be critically injured when he is not properly secured in a vehicle. Additionally, an anxious or rowdy pet in the car often causes distractions for the driver, which can ultimately lead to an accident. To avoid these issues, you should check into the numerous safety options available to keep your pet secure when traveling. Options include pet seat belts, pet car seats, travel kennels, and vehicle pet barriers. Your pet will need time to become comfy with whichever option you choose, so be prepared to allow him ample time to acclimate to it so he can travel comfortably during your moving day trip.

Be Prepared for the Unexpected

Sometimes mishaps cannot be avoided, and unfortunately, pets may run off. If your pet’s identification tag is updated with your new address, this can help to bring him home safely. Make sure that your pet wears his collar with the ID tag, and include your current cell phone number on the tag. Having a current photo of your pet can be helpful as well, and making sure his microchip has your updated contact information can help to bring him back home quickly and safely.

Pack Your Pet’s Essentials

Sometimes you feel like you need to pack everything for the car ride ahead, but sticking to the essentials is key. Be sure to bring a generous supply of your pet’s food, as you cannot be sure you will be able to stop along your travel route and buy his regular food. It may also take some time to find where to buy his food in your new hometown, so having enough on hand to last a while is one less concern upon your arrival. With all of the changes taking place during traveling and moving, this is not the ideal time to have to introduce your pet to a new food. Other necessary items to pack for your pet include pet travel bowls, pet beds, cat litter and a litter box, leashes, collars and tags, toys, grooming supplies, a first-aid kit and medications. It is also very important to have plenty of fresh water for your pet to keep him hydrated.

Secure Pet-Friendly Accommodations

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If the journey to your new home involves a long drive, you’ll need to find pet-friendly accommodations along the way. Make reservations ahead of time so that you will not be stuck without a pet-friendly lodging option when it is time to stop and rest for a while.

Pet Medical Records

Be prepared in case your pet has a medical emergency when you travel. Have a copy of your pet’s medical records on hand, and they should remain with you at all times. These should also include your veterinarian’s contact information, in the event that he needs to be consulted on your pet’s care.

And You’re Off!

Avoid Dangerous Travel Practices

As a pet parent, of course, you want your pet to enjoy the ride. Too many pets, this means the thrill of the wind in their face as they stick their head out the window. As much as you want to let your pet indulge in this – don’t. It is not safe. Pets can be easily injured if road debris or bugs hit them. Trauma to the ear can occur due to the constant flapping in the wind. A sharp turn or exuberant pet can quickly result in your pet falling out the window. Also, never travel with your pet in the back of a pickup truck, or allow him to ride in your lap. Some states even have laws to stop dogs from traveling like this, and it is never a good idea as your pet’s safety is a top priority.

Make Sure to Stop and Take Breaks Along the Way

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People who travel by car often need to stop for a good stretch or to use the bathroom. Your pet will need these breaks as well, and even more frequently when traveling. Many travel service areas offer designated areas where you can walk your pet and allow him to use the bathroom. Be sure to stay within these specified pet-friendly areas, especially when it comes to a bathroom break. Also, don’t forget to clean up after your pet whenever and wherever you make a pit stop.

Give Your Pet Plenty of Water

Whenever you make a stop, give your pet fresh water to keep him from getting dehydrated. Collapsible pet travel bowls are a great option for providing fresh water while on the move. There are times when traveling may upset your pet’s digestion. You can bring along ice cubes to help with this, as they may be easier on your pet’s tummy than a large amount of water all at one time.

Monitor Your Pet’s Food

When traveling, it is recommended that you keep your pet’s food to a minimum. It is best to give him his regular brand of food, and don’t be tempted to give him some of the fast food you may grab along the way. Being consistent is important to keep his digestion in check, especially when traveling.

Do Not Leave Him Alone

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Your pet should never be left alone and unattended in your vehicle. Temperatures can rise quickly in the car when it is warm outside, and it can reach 100+ degrees in a matter of minutes despite cracking open the windows. Also, unfortunately, there are pet thieves who may prey on your pet if he is left alone, so stay with him to keep him safe and to put your mind at ease.

Make Sure Your Pet is Properly Secured

Always keep your pet “buckled up” with your pet restraint option of choice. Don’t be tempted to allow him to freely roam the vehicle or rest in your lap. People need to stay buckled up during their road trips, and your pets need to stay safely secured as well. If he starts to act nervous, anxious or wiggly, take a break at a nearby pit stop and let him walk around outdoors. Also, the back seat or inside cargo area are always the safest places for your pet to ride.

Your Pet’s Comfort and Safety are Top Priorities

On your road trip, everything will go much more smoothly if your pet is riding comfortably. You want to stay comfortable during your travels, and your pet needs comfort, too. To make this simple, you can use his favorite blanket or travel bed, and there are many pet car seats available that can keep him comfortable during the trip.

Look at the road trip to your new home as an adventure. With a little planning and prep, every family member can be kept safe, secure and smiling during your travels.


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About The Author
Kim Salerno
Kim Salerno is the President and Founder of TripsWithPets.com, a pet travel guide that provides online reservations at more than 30,000 pet friendly accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. Kim spends her free time traveling with her four-legged kids, Tucker, Charlie, and Brownie.

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