How to Take Care of Your Pet While Traveling

Road trips with your dog can be fun since many of them love riding in the car. But you need to do a bit of planning before you and your furry friend hit the road. it’s important to know how to care for your pet when traveling in order to help guarantee you all have a fun and safe trip.

General Travel Tips

Train Your Pet

If your dog doesn’t already know the basic commands (sit, stay, come, etc.), enroll your dog in obedience training classes so they learn how to follow commands, and will respond when you tell them to sit, stay or be quiet. Having a well-mannered and obedient pet will make things easier in public places like hotel lobbies, gas stations and rest areas.

Be Sure Pets Are Allowed

Before you embark on your journey, confirm pets are welcome at your destination. Some hotels and most restaurants and supermarkets don’t allow household pets. In accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), however, public facilities must accommodate trained service dogs or emotional support animals.

Some hotels allow pets for free or for an additional fee. Keep Fido clean while you stay at a hotel. Request to have a room in the lowest possible floor to make it easier to take your dog for a walk. If you must leave your dog in the room while you grab dinner or run an errand, hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside the door to keep staff from entering your room. Also, some hotels will not let you leave pets in the room unattended. Read the hotel’s policy carefully before you book.


Air travel and accommodation rules covering trained service dogs and emotional support animals differ from those for household pets. According to the ADA, a service animal must be allowed to accompany the handler to any place in a building or facility where members of the public, program participants, customers or clients are allowed. For details, go to ADA National Network website.

Carry Their Medical Record

Do your pets have any medical issues or take medications? Be sure to carry their medicines, medical record and proof of recent vaccinations, in case you need to visit the veterinarian while on your road trip.

It’s also wise to pack a first-aid kit for yourself and for your furry friends. Ask your veterinarian what items you should include in your pet first-aid kit.

Let Them Burn Off Energy

You know that restless feeling you get when you’ve been in the car for a while? Pets get it too. When you stop for breaks, walk around with them for a while so you can both stretch your legs.

Items to Bring with You


a pet dog drinking water from a bowl

This is very important, even for what you think is a quick trip. The excitement of being in the car makes your dog pant. If it’s hot outside, it will pant even more. Any pet will get thirsty on the road, so bring along a large, cold bottle of water. Get a non-slip bowl and place it in the backseat or on the floor, where your pet can reach it. If you don’t have a non-slip bowl, bring a regular bowl and let your dog drink each time you stop, which in that case should be approximately every hour. If the water runs out or gets hot, stop and get cool water at a rest area or gas station and get fresh.


a pet cat eating food from their bowl

For trips that are several hours long, you may want to consider bringing along pet food. Otherwise for short trips you may want to skip the kibble. Eating in a cramped vehicle can upset your pet’s stomach. This is especially true if you have a dog who gets carsick. Also, some pets won’t eat in the car. If you feed your dog in the car, watch it for signs of distress, and make sure you stop to let it go to the bathroom after its meal.

Plastic Bags

a dog owner picking up their dog' poop with a plastic bag

Speaking of going to the bathroom, it’s important that you stop about every hours and walk your dog.If there’s a mess to clean up, the workers at a rest area or gas station will be very grateful if you pick it up. You can buy small bags in the pet section of any store or use plastic shopping bags.


a pet cat on a leash

You must leash your dog outside the car. Some rest areas have leash laws. Even if you stop someplace where leashes aren’t required, you should still leash your pet. The best-behaved animal can act out when in a new place, or when it’s under stress. Since many road trips follow large highways and interstates, you don’t want your dog to dash into traffic or run off. Also, if you leave your pet in the car, remove their leash (so it doesn’t hang them up in the car).


a puppy chewing his toys

If you’re driving with a puppy or active pet, bring toys it keep it entertained. A teething puppy without a toy may decide to knaw on your upholstery. Just like you enjoy your favorite music or snacks on the road, your dog would love a familiar toy, blanket and some treats to help them feel more at home. If your pet will be stressed in the car, bring its favorite toy. Just be sure not to lose it!


a pet kitten snuggling in a blanket

Your pet may want some extra comfort when lying down, especially if it’s are going to be on the floor. You also may have a small animal who will get cold, especially in the winter. If you cover your dog up, you will need to watch that they don’t get too hot. A blanket can also help your human passengers. If you have a dog who likes to sit in a peoples’ laps, putting a blanket over the passengers’ legs for more comfort and protect from scratches. Use a blanket that you don’t mind if it smells you’re your or is covered with pet hair.

All of these tips can make for a more fun, comfortable and safe ride for you and your pet.

Ways to Make Your Pet Comfortable

Besides blankets and toys, there are some things you can do so your pet will be nice and comfy.

Give Them Plenty of Room

a pet dog in a car on a roadtrip

No matter how small they are, your pet needs plenty of space. Obviously, when traveling with a bigger pet, such as a large dog, you will need to provide more room. Whether they’re sitting on a seat in your car or in a crate, your pet should at least be able to stand up and turn in a circle. The more space the better, particularly on longer trips.

A van or an SUV can be perfect for road trips with pets, especially if the seats fold down. If you have a big animal, use a vehicle that has enough room for them. Avoid placing pets in the beds of trucks. Uncrated pets can easily jump out into oncoming traffic. Even if you have a crate in the truck bed, your pet is exposed to the elements and you can’t watch them closely. Only put your pet in a truck bed if you’re taking a short trip at a low speed.

Don’t Let Them Put Their Head Outside

a dog with his head out the window of a car

Dogs love hanging their heads out the window. But it’s not always good for them, especially on a high-speed road trip. The wind whips against their faces much too strongly. This is bad for their eyes, especially for a breed that tends to have eye problems, such as a Shih Tzu. Flying debris or trash can strike your pet if their head is outside the car. Worst of all, if the window is down too far, your pet can easily jump out.

Hold Onto Them

pet cat traveling on the owner's lap

Pets may be nervous, unsure and unsteady in the car. If you need to stop quickly, you can send them flying into the dashboard or to the floor of the vehicle causing injuries. When you know there’s a sharp turn or a stop ahead, hold onto your pet to keep it safe. You can also buy safety harnesses to hold it in place. Never let a pet sit on your lap while you’re driving- it’s too dangerous. If you know your pet will try sitting on your lap, or otherwise interfere with your driving, use a safety harness or a crate. If you use a crate, give your pet plenty of water and keep the temperature at a level that’s comfortable for it.

Give Your Pet A Bath

a dog getting a bubble bath

Bathing your pet before you go is good for both of you. A smelly animal is doubly bothersome when the smell is trapped inside your vehicle. Your pet’s sense of smell is better than yours, so they won’t be happy, either. If you’re staying someplace you can’t bathe your dog, give it a bath before you leave. If bath day is the day you leave dry it completely before you start your trip.

Leave The A/C On

a pet dog with a fan blowing on him

Even if it’s not very hot outside, your pet needs cool air, especially if they have a lot of fur. Leaving the air conditioning on will keep them cooler and provide fresh air. If your pet is panting, drinking a lot of water or moving to get in front of the air vents, turn the A/C up higher so they can cool off.

Let Them Burn Off Energy

a small dog chasing his own tail

You know that restless feeling you get when you’ve been in the car for a while? Pets get it too. When you stop for breaks, walk around with them for a while so you can both stretch your legs. All of these tips can make for a more fun ride for you and your pet. Many pets love being in the car, and you can make sure they are safe and comfortable as they ride.

When you go on a road trip, remember to also look out for yourself by making sure you have car insurance coverage. Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote by calling us at 1-800-INFINITY!

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