top of page

Tips For Easy Peasy Roadtripping With Pets

Cartoon  gray cat with white facial markings and dark gray dog sitting together waiting to begin a roadtrip. Their suitcases are sitting outside of their car.
Preparation equals success when traveling by car with pets

According to Travel Agent Central, 85 percent of Americans are planning to travel this summer, with nearly four in five travelers planning on taking road trips. Just how many will be taking their pets along? Hilton recently shared survey results showing that 55 percent of American pet parents plan to travel with their pet(s). That means a whole lot of dogs and cats will be taking road trips in the coming months. Here are some tips on how to prepare and keep pets safe as you hit the open road.

Plan your destination, stops, and lodging well in advance

State and National parks are among the most popular places to travel to each summer. If your vacation includes a stay at a State Park, make sure pets are welcome! An excellent resource is the guide to pet-friendly cabins, campgrounds, beaches, and more.

Perhaps hotels are more your thing. Keep in mind that not all pet-friendly hotels accept all types of pets. Some allow dogs, but not cats, some have weight or breed restrictions, etc. It is also essential that you understand each hotel’s pet policy. Many will not allow pets to be left alone in the room, require pets to be leashed in public areas, and more.

Familiarize yourself with rest stop rules along your route

Rest stops provide an opportunity for you and your pet to stretch your legs and take a potty break. This is also a good time to allow cats to visit the litter box, which should be located on the floor in the back seat.

If you are traveling alone, confirm that your pet will be allowed in the restroom or other public areas with you (never leave your pet alone in the car).

Introduce your pet to his/her carrier at least two weeks before traveling

Begin by allowing your fur baby to get used to the shape and smell of the carrier. Keep the door open and natural curiosity will encourage exploration. Line the bottom with a towel or garment that has your pet’s scent so they feel some ownership. Placing treats and/or toys inside will help form a positive association.

Let your pet explore the car

The more familiar the vehicle, the more comfortable your pet will be. Keep in mind that cats rarely travel anywhere by car except for trips to the veterinarian, so making this a good experience is important. Let your pet walk around the car, and look out of the windows. If possible, take them on a few short trips. This can help make the car feel less threatening.

Be sure carriers, doggie car seats or restraints are in good shape and work correctly

Keeping pets in their carriers while traveling is preferred, however, some pets (especially larger dogs) do well with a secured harness or in a space enclosed with a cage. Some small dogs do well in a well-designed car seat. Keeping your pet safe during travel is paramount. Discovering and handling any issues prior to your trip will help you avoid stress.

Keep all windows and the sunroof closed when traveling with pets

If your pets are properly secured, there is no harm in rolling down the windows. However, an open window or sunroof with a free-roaming pet can be a potential danger. All it takes is some sort of distraction to prompt some pets into action. The last thing you want is for your pet to escape, especially in an unfamiliar place.

Get ahead of your pet’s stress or anxiety

Most pets thrive on routine. Travel is anything but routine. Even the calmest dog or cat can feel a bit out of sorts when in unfamiliar surroundings. One of the best ways to manage stress is by adding CBD to your pet’s travel routine. The bonus – CBD also thwarts motion sickness for most dogs and cats. Look for full spectrum or broad spectrum oils or treats.

Begin giving your pet the product a couple of days before the trip, so you can best determine the dosage that will be needed. Most pets do well on two milligrams per every 10 pounds of body weight, every four to eight hours. Some need double or even triple that amount. Great brands include Holistapet, Pawse, Treatibles, Mount Ara, and The Green Pet Shop.

Make sure your pet is wearing current identification

If the unthinkable happens and your pet goes missing during a vacation, having your name and cell phone number on your pet’s tag can make all the difference in the world.

Never leave your pet alone inside the car

This is especially true during travel (unfamiliar territory). Being left alone can potentially cause your pet to feel scared and stressed. Summer also adds the very real risk of heatstroke. Hundreds of pets die or suffer irreversible damage from being left inside cars on hot days.

Car windows absorb the sun’s rays and insulate the vehicle. On a 75-degree day, it takes only ten minutes for a car to reach 100 degrees. Here’s how quickly a car heats up in various temperatures:

75 to 100 in 10 minutes 75 to 120 in 30 minutes 80 to 110 in 10 minutes 85 to 90 in 5 minutes 85 to 100 in 10 minutes 85 to 120 in 30 minutes

Cracking the window has little effect. Even leaving the air conditioner on is not foolproof. A pet confined to the rear of the car in direct sunlight with the a/c on can still experience heat stroke. Far too many well-meaning pet parents have found this out in the most excruciating way.

Line your pet’s carrier with an absorbent towel covered by a puppy training (pee-pee) pad

This will make it easy to clean up potty accidents. Pack extra pads.

Include a first-aid kit

A basic kit should include alcohol wipes, hydrogen peroxide, gauze pads, adhesive tape, styptic powder, bandages, disposable gloves, saline solution, tweezers, and scissors. I also recommend adding a CBD cream. When applied topically, CBD can provide relief from stiff or achy joints, bites, scratches, scrapes, and a host of other skin irritations. It can also be gently rubbed into ear flaps to help instill calm and relaxation.

Happy travels!

For more pet health and lifestyle information, please visit


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page