By: Derek Petersen
It’s that time of year that a lot of people will be traveling to see friends and family. If you’re like me, you take your furry friends on the road with you. Athena (my Siberian Husky) and Boston (my Chocolate Lab) always get so excited when they know it’s time for a ride in the car. Their eyes widen, ears perk up, and their tails start to wag. Little do they know that it’s not for a short trip, but were heading on an 8-hour drive to see the family. I find that waiting until the last minute to say “want to go for a ride,” works in my favor. Little do they know that I’ve been prepping them for this ride the last couple of days.
There are tips on traveling safe with your pet while in the car, but there are variables that you need to think about before putting your pet in the car for a long road trip. Taking these steps to prepare your dog for a long road trip is imperative to their health and wellbeing during your road trip this year.
Here are some easy steps to follow to ensure your dog has a great road trip:
Feed your dog early. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. It’s important to feed your dog a few hours early to help prevent motion sickness.
Prepare your vehicle for your pet. It’s recommended that you crate your dog for long road trips. If you don’t normally crate your dog, it may be time to rethink that decision. Crating your dog will create less of a distraction while you drive (especially while driving by yourself) which is safer for the both of you. Also, a crate helps to prevent your dog from becoming a projectile if you have to stop urgently, reducing the chance of injury for both of you. A best practice is to exercise your dog before putting them into the crate. A dog that has exercised is more likely to relax in the crate, while dogs who haven’t exercised will have built up anxiety and may not be willing to accept the crate.
Pack a bag with all of your dog’s goodies: dog food, treats, bottled water, dog leashes, waste bags and dog toys (their favorite toy, of course). This pet friendly travel kit should also contain portable dog bowls, dog documents, and a dog first aid kit. Keep the leashes handy, as you will be making frequent stops.
Now that you have prepared your dog and vehicle for the trip ahead, it’s time to plan the stopping spots. If you’re traveling on major freeways or highways, you can count on having rest areas (that almost always have a “pet section”) to stop and let your dog out. There are times you might need to stop and get food, but no matter where you stop, don’t ever leave your dog in the car. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked vehicle can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. On a cold day, a vehicle can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing your dog to possibly freeze to death.
Now we’ve gone through the steps in preparing your dog(s) for a long road trip, and you should be ready for the road ahead. Always continue to learn the best practices in keeping your family, pets, and yourself safe in your vehicle at all times. Buckle up and enjoy your trip!