Particularly in warmer weather, special care must be taken so that your pet’s body temperature does not rise to a level that can impair proper functioning. Most animals disperse heat through their feet and by panting, so pay special attention to the temperature within the vehicle. Heated upholstery can be a problem as it prevents your pet’s system from cooling down.
Some Tips for Successful Car Trips with Your Pet:
- Acclimatize your pet to your vehicle.
- Always keep a car window open so the pet has plenty of air.
- Do not leave your pet in a vehicle alone; if necessary, affix sunshades to the interior of windows and tailgate surrounding your pet.
- If the vehicle is air conditioned, check for functionality before traveling.
- If your pet has a favourite pillow that he or she likes to travel with, cover it with a zipper cover and enclose a plastic covered ice pack inside to keep cool.
- If convenient, travel during early morning or early evening when temperatures are a bit cooler.
To prevent injury, restrain your pet using a pet seat belt or secured carrier. Loose animals in a moving vehicle present a hazard both to the driver and to other motorists. You do not want your pet to be underneath your feet while driving. Never allow the pet to ride unrestrained in the back of a truck or to stick its head out the window of a moving vehicle. Particles of dirt can lodge in eyes, ears and nose causing infection, direct damage, etc.
Never give your pet sedatives or tranquilizers unless under the direction of a licensed veterinarian. This can interfere with your pet’s ability to maintain proper balance, and may prevent him from protecting itself from unwanted injury or falls. (Air travel is especially dangerous while under the influence of certain medications, as exposure to increased altitude can exacerbate or even initiate respiratory and cardiovascular problems.)
Take frequent breaks but keep your pet leashed whenever possible. Never allow your pet to wear a leash while in a crate as it could become dangerously tangled. However, it is a good idea to attach the leash before you get your pet out of the vehicle, as this is the best way to prevent runaway pets. Nothing can ruin a vacation like losing a pet. Before traveling with your pet ensure that it is well protected against loss.
Put systems in place in case your pet goes missing in unfamiliar surroundings, and ensure that your pet has a collar with up-to-date contact information. Pack a simple first aid kit containing antiseptic cream, anti-diarrhea medication (speak to your veterinarian for recommendation on a suitable product), gauze and assorted bandages. A contact list should also be included with a national poison control line and standard identification information, as well as a photo of your pet, up to date immunization records, etc.
Feed your pet a light meal a few hours prior to departure and a drink of water before embarking on your road trip. Pets should be provided with an ample supply of water with the water dish securely fastened down so it does not move around and injure the animal. A filled water dish, which has been placed in the freezer, is ideal as the water does not slosh around and stays fresh during the trip.
Maintain your pet’s regular feeding schedule and supply the main meal when you reach your destination or at the end of the day. Dry food is safest for road trips but if your pet eats only canned food, dispose any leftovers immediately after the meal, particularly in warmer weather.
Take along at least two gallons of water in case other water sources do not agree with your pet while traveling. Give small portions and stop at least every two hours for exercise. Please ensure your pet has learned basic commands before introducing it to unfamiliar areas. This is necessary for the safety of your pet, other pets and the general public.
Avoid leaving animals in a parked car.
If absolutely necessary, park in a shaded area, open windows wide enough to provide cross ventilation and lock all doors. Again, this is not recommended but if you have to do it keep the time away from your pet to an absolute minimum. Be aware of weather conditions and temperatures in both cold and warm environments.