Mention the word car to my dog, Lily, and she bolts for the vehicle without a care in the world. Not me, though: If Lily and I are going on a road trip, I need to think ahead. Because as any pet-owner can tell you, traveling with a pet–even happy-go-lucky Lily–requires a quite a bit of gear.
Like what? Well, with the annual summer road-trip season in full swing, we’re sharing some things that you might want to add to your pet-packing list. These items can make a better, safer, trip for you and for your favorite animal.
After the story, let us know in the comments: What should we add to our list?
…because there’s no drive-thru menu for pets. These bowls collapse when empty for easy packing, and zip when full to prevent spills. They’re also waterproof, so you can use them for water breaks along the way.
Protection for Car Interiors
If you don’t want to detail the car every hundred miles, there are three common types of interior protection (pictured below) that can help to reduce damage caused by fur, nails, and muddy paws.
Hammock covers protect the car’s seats and floors (plus they can keep animals from getting up front). Standard seat covers are made to work with bench and bucket seats. And if you’re driving an SUV, you can get a cargo-area cover to protect the back of your vehicle.
Covers made with waterproof materials like nylon can also protect the interior from potty accidents (they can happen to the best-trained of pets).
You wear a seatbelt, and your pet can too. These pet harnesses are seatbelt-like devices that can keep your pet secure and prevent driver distractions.
And in some states, they (or some other form of restraint) may soon be required. In New Jersey, drivers can be ticketed if they’re seen as unsafely transporting animals. And in Hawaii, you can no longer drive along with your pet in your lap.
If your pet is smaller, harnessing him to the seat might mean he can’t see out the window (and, really–who could do that to a dog?!). Enter the booster seat. Like the harness, these attach to the seat belt, but they also elevate animals to window-level. Nestled inside, your sidekick can happily watch the world go by, or curl up and snooze.
Cats and more nervous dogs often feel best in the secure, comforting surroundings of a carrier. Many carriers are cushioned with memory foam for added comfort, and others offer a seat belt security strap.
If you’re not using a restraint on your pet, you still might want to keep him from calling “shotgun” or hopping in your lap while you’re driving. Curious or lonely pets might merit a pet barrier.
You could even use a zipline, which is a leashing system that allows your pet to run back and forth in the back seat, but not make any unapproved jumps forward or backward.
Toys and treats
With luck, your pooch or kitty will snooze a good portion of the trip, but he’s likely to wake up at some point. While chatting is one way to keep him occupied, you can also encourage him to amuse himself with a chew toy or a clever dispenser that releases a treat as a reward when your pet figures out how to open it.
All of the brain power he employs finding out how to extract a treat should lead to more napping.
Not every pet loves to travel. If hitting the road makes your little friend nervous, you can help to relieve your dog or cat’s travel anxiety by putting him in a Thundershirt.
The gentle pressure of this garment on the torso calms animals, making traveling more enjoyable for everyone.
A Smart Leash
Prepare for the unexpected by using a retractable leash that allows you to set the lead at whatever length you want–long in an open field, or shorter for a walk down a crowded city street.
Wishing “Happy Trails” to all of you!