Many people have made wishes for the holidays. One of those wishes for pet owners is that they can take their pets with them over the hill and through the woods to Grandmother’s house. If you are fortunate enough to have that wish come true and are traveling by car this holiday season, knowing how to prepare your car and your pets for the trip can make the journey much more enjoyable, not to mention safer.

Preparedness is key to a relaxing ride. Read on for seven great tips gathered from professionals in the pet community for safe holiday car travel with pets.

holiday car travel with the dog


Car Safety Systems

There are state laws in effect for human children who ride in vehicles, but what about pets? The fact of the matter is that the responsibility for keeping your pets and passengers safe in the car rests squarely on your shoulders. There are several products on the market that help to ensure the safety of everyone on board.

Small dogs and cats can be kept safe in a travel crate belted securely in the back seat. For larger pets, consider a harness and seat belt system. You may also want to consider purchasing and installing a barrier that fits between your front seats and the back of your car. Not only do these keep your large pooch from climbing back and forth from the front seat to the back, but they can prevent your animal from flying into the front of your vehicle should you experience a collision.


Take Short Trips

We tend to picture happy-go-lucky dogs with their heads hanging out of the window, tongues, and ears blowing in the wind when we think of dogs riding in cars. While this picture may be accurate for some dogs, it is not the reality for all. Some dogs experience nothing but stress and anxiety when taking a ride, and that’s to say nothing of cats who may have never ridden in a car in their lives.

Don’t make matters worse for these frightened animals by putting them in the car and taking off on a hundred-mile journey. Begin with short trips in the car several weeks before your trip. Start with daily trips around the block and gradually extend the time. This may not wholly calm your pet or alleviate all their fears, but the hope is that your dog or cat will begin to understand that car rides can be a good thing. Don’t forget to heap praise upon them during and after the ride!


Talk To Your Veterinarian

If your pet is an anxious car rider and nothing you’ve tried makes them any calmer during rides, speak with your veterinarian. There are over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help to keep your pet relaxed.

You should also speak to your veterinarian if your animal is not anxious but experiences motion sickness or gets so excited to take a ride that they make themselves sick. Your vet can recommend something that can keep your four-legged friend’s belly from turning. You don’t want to spend the first days of your holiday cleaning out the interior of your vehicle.


Bring Along Water, But Keep Food Light

Even when riding in the car, animals can work up plenty of thirst. The car ride’s stress and the heat from fellow passengers can all keep an animal more dehydrated than usual. Bring an oversized bowl and a jug of water to keep it filled regularly throughout the trip. Yes, this may mean more bathroom breaks, but it’s better than discomfort — or possible kidney damage — that can come from prolonged dehydration.

As for food, keep meals light. The last thing you want to do is supply ammo for one the dog or cat is feeling nauseous! Withholding food may make the animal cranky, but it also serves as a well-earned reward for when the animal finally reaches its destination. In addition, know what types of holiday food to avoid giving to your pets.


Don’t Leave Your Pet Unattended in the Car

NEVER leave an animal unattended in a car, especially not for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. 

While you may think that winter weather makes it safer to have a pet in the car, the truth is that dogs and cats are at risk of hypothermia when temperatures get below 50 °F.  Additionally, the vehicle’s temperatures can soar to 100 °F or higher during sunny days, even when the temperatures are as low as the 60s.

On top of temperature concerns, the animal can become overstressed, get into road supplies, or find other sorts of trouble while unattended. It’s best to either take the animal where you’re going or leave someone in the car to keep an eye on them while you’re gone.


Let Them Stretch Their Legs

Take a moment to think about where you will stop to stretch along the journey — your dog could stand a short break from the car now and again and plan on stopping for at least 10 minutes every hour. This will allow humans to stretch their legs and your dog to drink water and go to the bathroom. 

If you are riding with a cat, take this opportunity to check on them and make sure everything is okay. If your cat is not used to walking on a harness and leash, don’t remove them from the vehicle. A lost cat is not the memory you want to make this holiday season.


Make Sure Identification Is Up-to-Date

Speaking of lost pets — the last thing you want to do on your trip is search for your missing friend. Accidents happen no matter how careful we are, so ensure that your animal’s identification is up-to-date before you leave the house. Any pet riding in your vehicle should be wearing a secure collar with an identification tag containing, at a minimum, your current phone number. 

If your pets are microchipped, take a minute to jump online and make sure your phone number and address are up-to-date. In most cases, you have the option of including an emergency contact or secondary phone number. Input the phone number of the person you are visiting. You can always change this when you get home.

While you are making sure phone numbers and addresses are available, check on any crates or carriers used. Write your phone number, the phone number of the person you will be visiting, your first name, and any medical conditions your pet has on a piece of paper or sticky note. Attach this information to the carriers with clear packing tape.


We Are Here When Your Pet Can’t Make The Journey

We know that you want to spend every waking second with your furry — or furless — best friend. We also know that sometimes it’s just not possible. When your pet can’t make the journey, we are here to make sure they are cared for and made to feel like family. We offer a variety of packages designed to ensure your pet’s comfort and yours as well. 

Call our friendly team or visit us online. Greenlin Pet Resorts is a pet boarding facility and daycare that you can trust. We believe in the human-animal bond, and each of our team members has been expertly trained, so your pet’s needs are met completely. Trust is essential, and we work every day to earn yours.