Traveling with Pets in the Car Over the Holidays

file000267016039The number of people traveling with their pets, especially during the holidays, is growing. As a result, the number of options available for pets on the road is growing too. Whether it be rooming with family or friends, or staying in a hotel room, the time has never been better to pack up your pet and go.

However, traveling with your pet can off some challenges, but nearly all can be beat with common sense and creativity. Here’s what you need to know when you’re traveling with a pet in the car over the holidays.

Steps To Take When Traveling With Your Pet

1: Talk With Your Vet

Many dogs enjoy riding in the car, but some may need help getting to that stage. Just like some people, some pets get motion sickness (with or without vomiting), while others may have problems with anxiety. Other pets may drool excessively, with ample amounts of saliva drenching the upholstery, or pant uncontrollably. Some pets me do all of these.

If your pet experiences anxiety or vomiting, talk to your veterinarian about medications that can help address these issues. For some pets with anxiety medication may only be needed while your pet learns to become more calm and comfortable in the car. Other pets with queasy tummies, anti-anxiety and anti-vomiting medication may always be needed when traveling in the car. Your veterinarian can also advise on whether or not medication is the best option for your pet.

2: Get Your Dog Acclimatized

Teach your dog to enjoy riding by using treats to reward tiny steps. For example, walking up to the car (treat), getting in (treat), getting into a harness or crate (treat), and then treats for progressively longer rides as well. Be sure that during this learning period the final destination is somewhere he or she wants to go, such as the park, a pet-store or business where treats are handed out, a friend’s house or another place where your dog feels happy and comfortable.

If you dog doesn’t seem to be getting more comfortable in to care, feel free to contact us here at All Pets Veterinary Medical Center for more information.

3: Get the Gear

Although many dogs may enjoy riding shotgun, often with his or head out the window, safety experts now advise that pets be secured in the vehicle in a crate or harness. In the event of an accident, a loose dog is a danger to himself, to others in the car and to everyone on the road. One accident can easily turn into many if other drives have to not only avoid your collision, but also a terrified dog. Crates are the best means of a safe restraint. However, with a big dog and a small car, a crate isn’t likely an option. Fortunately, there are car-harness restraints available that are not only comfortable for your pet, but also work with your vehicle’s seat belts or child-seat anchors.

Barriers have long been used in wagons, vans and SUVs. However, many barriers crumble or collapse under the forward impact of a dog in a crash. If you are choosing to use a barrier, make sure it is secured to the car’s frame and is sturdy enough to hold up in an accident. If not, a crate or a seat-belt harness will be your best option.

Food and water dishes, as well as spill-proof containers for both are also important when traveling with a pet in the car. Other items you will need include a leash and a comfortable travel harness or collar, and pick-up bags for cleaning up after your pet. A basic pet first-aid kit may also be a good idea. If you are staying in a hotel, it is important to remember to ask about their pet policy before leaving for your trip. Also, if your pet is on any medications, remember to bring them, along with what you need to give the pills, such as a pill gun or pill sockets.

A pet can easily slip out an open door or window, so make sure your pet has an ID tag with a phone number on it that you can be reached on in the event that he or she escapes.

4: Don’t Forget to Take Breaks

Before you hit the road be sure to walk you pet and give them a chance to relieve themselves. Once you’ve hit the road, schedule bathroom breaks at least every few hours for your pet. During these breaks, offer water and keep your pet’s feeding schedule as close to normal as possible as well. If your pet is taking any medications for nausea or anxiety, ask your veterinarian when to give the pills — with meals, on an empty stomach, an hour before you leave and so on.

When traveling, be sure to always keep your pet on a leash. Although your dog may know to come when called in your own neighborhood, many pets get confused in new places and situations and many not be reliable off-leash, even where it’s allowed. Also, be responsible and not only pick up after your pet, but prevent your pet from bothering others, whether it be barking in a hotel room or running up to people who may not like dogs.

Most importantly, if you are traveling in a place with a much warmer temperature, remember that a car can reach dangerous temperature levels for your pet withing minutes, even if the windows are partially opened.

For more tips on traveling with a pet, read our previous article: Tips for Traveling with Your Pet.


Taking these few extra precautions when traveling with your pet over the holiday will make this joyful time more exciting for both you and him. If you are traveling but can’t bring your pet, All Pets Veterinary Medical Center provides boarding facilities for our clients as well! For more information, feel free to contact us with the link below!

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