Smooth roads ahead: ensure a stress-free trip with your pet

Even the best-mannered animal can get weary after countless hours on the road. Use these tips to help you and your pet trip go as calmly as possible.

Smooth roads ahead: ensure a stress-free trip with your pet

Consider consulting a vet

  • If your pet displays a pattern of travel anxiety, consider consulting a vet who can prescribe some anti-nausea medications. Some cats and dogs also get through a trip better if a vet gives them mild sedatives.

Prep your pet with shorter trips:

  • Start with shorter trips, then increase their time in the vehicle slowly. You can start with as little as 15 minutes and work your way up to a few hours.
  • Some extra-anxious pets require even more basic building blocks; you may need to cuddle with your pet in the car for a bit before you even leave your driveway.
  • Work your way up from there, and make your first trial trip relatively short, around five minutes or so.

What you'll need:

  • Stock up on supplies like plastic covers. Drape them over your car seats and floors. This helps protect your car interior from bathroom accidents and nausea — as well as from cosmetic damage from cat clawing or dog chewing.
  • Give your pet fresh, circulating air by keeping windows slightly ajar. However, don't open them too much; cats, in particular, can slip out of a seemingly small space. Dogs may also enjoy booster seats, which help them take in the scenery.Coping with roadblocks:
  • Though many animals enjoy a long drive, road trips are prime times for anxious cats to bolt and get lost.

Have a plan:

  • Develop a plan that allows your pet to relieve itself without having an opportunity to run away. You can even leash train some cats.
  • Have your pet wear a collar with identification information, though, just in case they do get away from you. Also, bring your pet's documentation along, or have it accessible on an electronic device.

The day you leave: feed your pet

  • Feed your pet more than two hours before your departure time. Less food in its stomach means less chance of a mess inside the car.
  • Take your pet to the bathroom before leaving and stop at least every couple of hours to walk your dog. Cats can probably go three to four hours before needing to use the litter box.

Transporting your pet:

  • Keep cats inside a carrier. Otherwise, they may block your visibility or interfere with your feet when you try to press on the brake or gas pedals.
  • A dog booster or dog seat belt works for most pets, but anxious dogs may do better in crates. Whatever the case, toys and familiar goodies, such as blankets from home, will help your pet relax and enjoy the trip.

With some preparation, you can have a tolerable (or even fun!) road trip with your pet. The most important things to remember are patience and ample preparation.

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