One of the greatest joys of summer is hitting the open road with your best friends--including those of the furry persuasion! Never tried it? Don’t know where to start? Well, here are a few tips to ensure a great time will be had by all!
1. Have a list of pet-friendly hotels ready.
Even if you don’t plan on stopping anywhere overnight, it’s always good to be prepared. There’s an app called Bring Fido that’ll give you the locations of not only hotels, but also parks and beaches that welcome pets.
2. Pack smart.
Along with the basic supplies like plenty of food and water (don’t forget the bowls!), make sure your pet has a collar with current ID and working, up-to-date microchip. Also, add a few items to your first aid kit for him (like vet wrap that doesn’t stick to fur, a muzzle, a towel, and the numbers for your vet and Animal Poison Control). Also consider creating a pet travel emergency kit. If you get into an accident, this kit could be a literal life-saver for your little buddy. If you plan to go on an extended trip or to remote areas, think about taking a pet CPR and first-aid class before you leave.
3. You want to let your pet feel the wind in their fur?
Totally cool--just make sure he is completely secure before you roll down the window or open any doors. Check out pet safety belts, harnesses, and even crates. Use whatever works best for you and your pet, but use something!
Note about small dogs and cats: if you’re thinking about letting them roam loose, even with the windows up, beware of them crawling under the driver’s seat, pedals, or even up into the steering column.
4. Think ahead when packing food.
Wet food is a great option for feeding on road trips (especially when hiking or camping). Not only is it super yummy, but the water content can help keep your pet hydrated.
Note: DON’T suddenly switch your pet’s food for the trip. Either start with a gradual transition a week or two before the trip or use a food that is in the same line.
5. Plan a pre-trip workout.
Before you get in the car to start the journey, give your pet some exercise. This could mean a really long play session, walk/run, or a trip to doggie daycare/playgroup the morning before you set out. This will help to expend extra energy that you might not want breathing in your face as you try to fight traffic on the way out of town. Also consider bringing along a new or high-value toy to keep your pet busy (don’t overdo it on the treats though, or you could end up regretting it).
6. Provide for Adventure Cats
Did you know your cat can be harness and leash trained? It will keep him safe, make it possible for him to potty outside (versus dealing with litter box), and it’ll open up a whole new world of kitty hiking to you! If you do need to provide litter, take just a small tray or a few disposable packages for easy clean up.
Note: if your cat isn’t a road-warrior yet, he may be too freaked to go--either in the box or outside. Don’t fret. Once you stop for the night, he will most likely relax enough to use it.
7. Test drive
If your pet has never been in the car before, you might want to go for a test ride before the big day so you know if they will need to be confined for part or all of the trip, and if they even enjoy it to begin with. You might have to start small and build up their tolerance -- but don’t get discouraged!
8. Do some recon.
If you’re stopping over in a hotel (or even a friend’s house) for the night, do a quick check of your lodgings before you let your pet loose. Make sure they can’t get under the hotel bed (you don’t want to have to be racing the checkout clock while trying to extract them), look out for open doors and gates, and scan for anything they might chew on or eat.
9. Enjoy the ride.
Always maintain your sense of chill and adventure. It might be a little challenging to travel together--especially at first--but don’t stress. It’ll just make your pets more stressed. Go with the flow and take problems as they come. It’s not going to be perfect, but with practice, it’ll get easier and more fun. Traveling with your pet opens up the whole world to you both. There’s nothing better than having your furry bff with you when you hit the open road.