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Driving with Pets

Pets and car travel.

Car travel is the most popular way to move with pets. It provides a feeling of security for your pet and for you. And it is less expensive than air travel. Traveling in a car with your pet can go smoothly and even be fun when you follow these moving tips.

Dog in car window ready for pet travel

Before you start driving

  • Take your pet on short rides before the trip. This will get it used to the motion of the car and prepare you for safer driving with your baby on board.
  • If your pet is prone to motion sickness, ask your vet about medications to lessen the symptoms.
  • Do not feed or give water to your dog or cat for a few hours before you leave.
  • Get an individual dish for food and water for each pet.
  • Pack a leash, grooming brush, favorite toy, blanket, and extra towels in the vehicle.
  • If you’re staying somewhere overnight, buy a room deodorizer for the hotel.

Once you’re on the road

  • Only feed your pet once a day.
  • Make frequent stops for water and exercise.
  • Keep your pet on a leash for its protection—and yours.
  • While riding in the car, do not let your pet hang out the window. Dirt and insects can get in its eyes, causing irritation and infection.
  • Keep windows locked to prevent your pet from lowering the window and jumping out.
  • Keep your pet in its carrier if it is acting nervous or distracting you while driving.
  • Leave the windows cracked between an inch and inch-and-a-half if you don’t have air conditioning in your car. Pets need plenty of fresh air when the weather is hot or when the animal is prone to motion sickness. Gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, fish and other small animals are more sensitive than larger animals to hot and cold so check on them regularly and adjust your the heating and air accordingly.
  • Do not leave your pet alone in the car! If you must leave the pet in the car lock the doors and check on it every few minutes. If the weather is warm, crack windows for cross-ventilation and provide water. Even on a cloudy day, extreme heat inside a car can be fatal to your pet in as little as 10 minutes. In winter, a car that isn't running can quickly become like a freezer.Take a supply of water from home to prevent your pet from getting an upset stomach from unfamiliar water.
  • Avoid messy spills by removing dishes of water and food from small cages while the car is moving.
  • Keep bird carriers and plastic bags filled with fish covered to help keep them calm.

Tips for staying overnight with your pet

  • If you anticipate overnight stops, book pet-friendly lodging in advance.
  • Never leave a pet alone in the car overnight.
  • If you are traveling with a snake, let it soak for about an hour in the bathtub once you have checked in.
  • Try not to leave your pet alone in a hotel room. If you must leave your pet in a room, notify the desk and display the Do Not Disturb sign on the door.
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