Headed out of town and hesitant to leave your furry friend behind? Here’s how to travel with your favorite companion for the smoothest and safest ride possible.

We’ve got your number, Quoted readers: We know some of you love your pets more than as much as you love the humans in your life. So if your idea of a summer vacation means a meandering road trip with trusty Rover in tow, let us educate you on how to keep your sanity and your pet’s health in good shape.

Pup, Pup and Away:

Let’s face it: dogs love to ride with their heads out the window and feel the wind in their ears. The truth of the matter is, it’s not the safest thing for them. Your fur-baby can actually get struck by flying objects while doing this. In addition, the last thing you want in the event of an accident is your pup unharnessed: “Even a low-speed crash can cause injury to unrestrained dogs,” Dr. Kimberly May told Edmunds.com. “There are all kinds of prominences inside a car, so depending on what structures they hit, dogs can suffer broken ribs, broken legs or eye injuries. They can hit the windshield or be thrown outside of the car.”

Instead, your pup should actually always be in the backseat, in a well-harnessed crate that is buckled securely to the seat. Best Friends Animal Society states that, “A seat belt harness is perfect for large breeds and a booster seat can be used for smaller breeds. Both allow your dog to look out the window, but keep them safe during sudden stops and from hanging their head out the window where they may be injured by flying debris. Make sure your dog is wearing a current ID tag, just in case he escapes and becomes disoriented in an unfamiliar area.”

Your dog should always be safely restrained in the backseat of the car.

You’ve got to be kitten me:

When it comes to your feline friends, they should always be crated when traveling. Being crated not only makes your cat safer but actually increases your cat’s comfort level. Be sure the crate is safely secure with a seatbelt to prevent sliding and moving during sudden stops. If you feel you will have to stop to take frequent restroom breaks, consider getting a larger kennel that will fit a litter box as well, so that you can continue on your road trip and your kitty won’t have to hold it.

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You can also follow PetFinder’s tips to gradually increase your cat’s comfort in the car, starting with practicing simply being in the car in a crate, and moving eventually up to the routine of heading to the vet’s office.

Polly want to travel?:

For your more feathered friends, you can actually put larger birds in a crate you would use for a cat (though, of course, never at the same time). You can line the bottom of the crate with newspaper; by covering the slippery plastic, your bird has a much more stable foundation. For smaller birds, you can keep them in their cage. Be sure to cover the cage up with a blanket or sheet, too. This keeps any draft away from your birdie while simultaneously making them feel safer. Remember birds are extremely sensitive to drafts so keep all windows closed at all times and keep them away from the AC. Also, make sure to secure your crate with a seat belt or put it on the floor.

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Tips fur all pets:

All crates and kennels used (regardless of the type of pet or type of crate) need be well ventilated and secure. The biggest mistake made among pet owners, According to Mallory Kerley, the Manager of Media and Communications for The ASPCA, is people not restraining their pet in the car. Kerley explains: “If the door is opened, they will often run out the door, possibly into traffic. If you get into an accident, an unrestrained pet is launched forward like a missile, through the windshield and outside the car. It is also for the driver’s safety: an unrestrained pet can be a distraction, seeking your attention, climbing on your lap or getting into your things.” Kerley also shared with us the importance of never leaving your pet in a vehicle. “Pet owners should also never leave their pet in the car unattended for any period of time. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.”

Never leave your pet in the car.

A list of supplies to bring when traveling with your pet, created by The ASPCA:

  • Traveling papers
  • Food
  • Bowls
  • A leash
  • Waste-scoop
  • A pillow or favorite toy
  • Grooming supplies
  • Bottled water (drinking water from an unfamiliar area could upset your pet’s tummy)
  • And, a pet first aid kit

Also, if you are traveling across state lines be sure to bring a copy of your pet’s vaccination records and make sure your pet has identification tags on them at all times. Banfield Pet Hospital also recommends that when packing your pet’s food, be sure to err on the side of the familiar. “When it comes to packing for your trip, keep your pet’s needs in mind. If possible, bring your pet’s food from home, or make sure you’ll be able to get it where you’re traveling to. Changing their diet on top of the stress of traveling may cause your pet to get diarrhea or an upset stomach.”

Our last tip:

Make sure ahead of time that wherever you are staying is pet-friendly. The last thing you want to do is arrive at your destination and realize your pet is not allowed. For information on pet friendly restaurants,lodging, events and much more visit takeyourpet.com. Follow these tips and enjoy your purrrrfect roadtrip with your fur-baby!

About The Author

Meghan Hopper is a Lone star state native currently studying public relations at Texas State University and gaining knowledge and experience in public relations, marketing and journalism. She is a lover of dogs, Audrey Hepburn and all things pink and gold.

  • Maria

    Wow, That’s really interesting and great article for me and other visitors those who want to travel with pets. I also keep a cat and want to go travel with her. All of these tips are really helpful for me to travel with my cat safely. I will go washington dc tours from boston with my cat. I am really thankful to you for this great information.

  • Levy R.

    It would be smart to have a seat cover on when you are transporting a pet anywhere. That way your car can stay clean from all the dirt and hair your pets can get over your seats. It also can help if you have someone in your car that is allergic to pet hair.