Car or RV Roadtrips with Pets
Planning a trip requires many details, lists, and boxes to check off, and adding a pet in the mix can sometimes double the packing list! While this can be overwhelming, pre-travel preparation can save you and your pet from much discomfort. The most important decision is to first decide whether you should bring your pet with you. Unless you are able to spend the majority of your vacation time with your pet, they will likely be happier at home than tagging along on your trip. If you decide it’s best to bring your furry friend with you, take some time to put a good plan in place to ensure your camping trip is equally fun for you and your pet!
- If your pet has never been on a long car or RV trip before, rehearse with your pet beforehand by increasing their ride times gradually.
- Give yourself time to take a relaxing walk before go-time. This will help everyone feel calm before starting your adventure.
- Buy the right crate or carrier, and line it with absorbent bedding. Get your pet comfortable with the carrier and bedding before the trip so it becomes a place of safety and security for them.
- Freeze a bowl of water that will gradually melt in the car and won’t spill, but will still allow your pet to stay hydrated.
- Always attach an identification tag to your pet’s collar in case they try to make a break for it during a pit stop.
- Prepare a Pet Travel Kit, complete with food, a collapsible bowl, medication/first aid items, rabies and other shot certificates, treats, veterinary information, pet waste bags, and an extra leash and collar. Many people traveling with pets often will also purchase pet insurance, just in case of emergency!
- Tack on extra time on your trip total. Humans stopping for breaks can be quick, but a dog might want to smell every inch of gas at the rest stop. Adding on extra time will help you and your pet feel less rushed during breaks.
Tips from the Humane Society
Leave the Front Seat for Humans
Keep your pet in the backseat for the duration of the trip. If an airbag is deployed while your pet is in the passenger seat (even if they’re in a crate), it could injure your furry friend.
Don’t Allow Your Pet to Roam in the Vehicle
The safest way for pets to travel is in a crate or carrier. Dog restraints or seat belts are useful for preventing your dog from roaming around the car and distracting the driver, but they haven’t been reliably proven to protect dogs in the case of an accident. Additionally, cats aren’t typically the most comfortable traveling in a car, so keeping them in their carrier is always best for their safety and comfort (and yours!)
It’s important to restrain crates and carries so they aren’t bouncing and sliding around within your vehicle or RV. A seat belt, bungee cord, and/or nonslip material under the crate are all tried and true methods used by frequent pet travelers!
Keep All Paws and Heads Inside the Vehicle!
Dogs and cats should always be kept safely inside of your car or RV. Pets can be injured by particles or debris, or become ill from having cold air forced into their lungs. Never transport a pet in the back of a pickup truck for these reasons as well.
Give Your Pet Plenty of Rest Stops
Stopping frequently allows your pet to exercise and relieve themselves. Never allow your dog to leave the car without an ID’d collar and leash, and a human on the end of the leash! Even if you see other people letting their dogs roam off leash, rest stops and gas stations can be very busy, and even the most well-behaved dog can become frightened of noisy nearby cars or curious of all the things to smell.
Bring Along A Human Buddy
Whenever possible, share the driving and pet caretaking duties with a friend or family member. This will allow you to take breaks, buy food, and use the restroom during stops, all while knowing your pet is safe and happy with someone you trust. A quick pit stop might feel like no time at all to you, but it is too long to leave your pet in a car by himself in a strange and unfamiliar place.
On an 85-degree day, even with the windows open, the temperature inside of a car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Think about how hot your car gets after spending some time in a grocery store or in an appointment; many people will start their cars and wait to get inside because the heat is too much! Leaving a pet in a car for even 30 minutes with the windows down can cause irreversible organ damage and even death in pets.
Today, there are more pet travel options than ever before, and nothing goes together better than pets and camping. With the right planning and preparation, your furry family member can tag along safely and happily, and be part of your memorable California camping trip.