The ultimate road trip guide for traveling with pets

The ultimate road trip guide for traveling with pets - Chow sitting in packed car

Planning a road trip with your pet can be exciting but also overwhelming, especially if your pet has never gone on a trip before. When traveling with a furry friend, there are so many considerations it’s sometimes hard to know where to start.

Taking care of the logistics in advance helps ensure you and your pet can focus on your adventure whether you’re at the beach, in the mountains, or out on the open road. Vetster is there to support you, no matter where you are. Use this pet-friendly road trip PDF guide for each stage of your journey. If you run into trouble at any stage, whether it’s due to motion sickness, concerns about swimming safety, fleas, ticks, or more, a Vetster vet can help you.

Before you go

A little bit of preparation can go a long way when traveling with your pet. Get the ball rolling with these pre-road trip tasks.

  • Check the pet policy at your accommodations: When booking a room or campsite, ask in advance about their policies on pets. Some may have specific rules, fees, or fines regarding pets you’ll want to know about ahead of time. You can also ask about nearby locations for exercise and exploration, such as dog parks or walking trails. A Vetster vet can advise you on specific parasite protection your pet may need for the area you will be visiting.
  • Stay up to date on vaccinations: Your pet should always be up to date on their vaccines whether they are traveling or not. Keep a photo of your pet’s vaccination records on your phone or a paper copy in the glove box for easy reference. For dogs and cats, proof of current rabies vaccination is a legal requirement nearly everywhere. Having this on hand will streamline the process whether you’re exchanging information with another dog owner after an unfortunate social encounter or crossing a border.
  • Put parasite prevention in place: Make sure your pet has been treated with external flea and tick prevention before you leave. If you are going to be away for an extended period of time, bring extra treatment applications to ensure your pet will be covered at all times. If you’ve left it behind, check with the from the Vetster online pharmacy to see if refills are available to you.
  • Get a clean bill of health: Visit your in-person veterinarian to get a clean bill of health for your pet before you leave. Even if your pet appears healthy, plan this well in advance of your trip, because preparing the paperwork required for travel to some destinations can take more than six months. Pets with chronic illnesses or who take medications will also benefit from a check-up to make sure they’re all set for the trip. If you’ve been considering getting a microchip for your pet, this is the perfect reason to have that done. Once you’re on the road, stay connected to professional advice by easily accessing a Vetster online vet.
  • Do a practice run: If your pet is not a frequent traveler, it is a good idea to get them accustomed to riding in the car before you embark on a longer trip. A little trial and error may be necessary to determine the best strategies for a smooth ride. For example, if your pet gets anxious or vomits in the car, you won’t want to wait until the start of a 15-hour drive to discover that. Keep safety in mind as well. While some pets may be fine in car seats or safety harnesses, other pets may need to be in their kennel while in the car for the safety of the driver.

Your pet’s vacation packing list

Just like humans, making a packing list for your pet can help ensure you have everything you need for your trip. Don’t forget to pack these must-have items when traveling with your pet:

  • Water
  • Medications (always take extra, just in case)
  • Food
  • Treats
  • Chew toys for dogs and a favorite toy or two to keep your pet entertained
  • Flea and tick prevention
  • Poop bags, potty pads, and litter boxes
  • Leashes, harnesses, and collars
  • An ID tag that has your contact information. If possible, add an extra tag with the information of the location where you will be staying.
  • (Collapsible) bowls for food and water
  • Paw protection for rough, hot, snowy, or muddy surfaces
  • A flotation device for dogs if you plan on taking your pup out on the water
  • Your pet’s crate
  • A car seat or safety harness
  • An extra towel for your pet
  • Proof of up-to-date vaccinations, including rabies
  • Recent certificate of health from a veterinarian
  • First aid kit
  • Download the Vetster app before you leave so you’ll be prepared for anything that comes your way

While you’re on the road

With a little planning, no obstacle will get in the way of a dream vacation with your pet. Enjoy the open road with these tips.

Safety first: It’s hard to have a good time when things go wrong, so take steps to keep yourself and your furry or feathered co-pilot safe on the road. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid taking unnecessary risks so you can minimize the likelihood of you or your pet getting sick, injured, or separated from each other. Travel with a buddy when you can. Don’t lose sight of subtle dangers like how easily things can turn disastrous if your pet bolts from the car in a busy parking lot or how quickly the car can heat up when it’s not all that hot outside. Stay on your A-game when it comes to traveling safely because your pet is counting on you and check with a Vetster online vet regarding your planned travel route to find out if you should take extra health precautions for birds, rabbits, dogs, cats, or other pets.

Pit stops: Plan for frequent pit stops for both you and your furry companion. Scheduling adequate pit stops will ensure you and your pet are comfortable and relaxed on your journey. While large highway rest areas may be pet-friendly, also consider other locations, such as parks or beaches, that may offer a more enjoyable break for you and your pet. Taking a break also gives you a chance to enjoy exploring your surroundings with your pet, which is the reason you brought them along in the first place.

Pet-friendly accommodations: Even if you have accommodations confirmed ahead of time, it’s wise to have some pet-friendly backups ready along the way. Keep a list of hotel chains or nearby friends or family members that will allow you to stay with your pet if any of your plans fall through. You can use an app, such as BringFido, to easily find dog-friendly hotels and destinations, like parks or walking trails.

Vetster: When you’re traveling with your pet, a local Vetster vet can advise you on vaccines required for the region, local hazards, and advisories for pets, as well as conditions that might affect your dog like travel anxiety and car sickness. If you find that you need to consult a vet at any time on your journey, Vetster offers 24/7 on-demand, online virtual care appointments that put your pet’s health first. Don’t wait until you get home if your pet is experiencing symptoms that can be easily addressed with Vetster. Select a time convenient for you and video chat with a Vetster online veterinarian from anywhere. You can choose from thousands of licensed vets based on their specialty, location, or availability, and see their flat-rate fee upfront. A local vet can answer your questions and assess your pet’s condition. For emergencies, checkups, prescriptions*, and everything in between, take control of your pet’s health anytime and anywhere with Vetster.

  • Prescription services vary by state and province.
The Vetster Editorial Team is comprised of seasoned writers and communicators dedicated to elevating stories about Vetster, pets and their owners.

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