But like people, animals have special needs that must be attended to before they begin a journey, especially if it involves hours on the road.
Here are some tips recommended by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Automobile Association of America on how to prepare your pet for a safe, comfortable journey:
- Before the trip, take your animal for a veterinary check-up. It's important to make sure your pet has all necessary shots and that you obtain a health certificate from the doctor. Ask your vet whether your pet is healthy enough to handle a long trip, and whether it might need any special medication.
- Find out whether your pet needs any special shots, documentation and whether there are quarantine restrictions where you are going.
- Get the name of a vet in the area where you'll be traveling in case of an emergency.
- If your pet needs medication, get enough for the trip, plus a few extra days' worth.
- Make arrangements ahead of time to make sure your pet will be welcome wherever you are staying, whether it is a hotel, a camping ground, or a friend's house.
- If your pet is unaccustomed to taking car rides or traveling in a carrier, take the animal for short drives near your home to help it adjust.
- During the trip, make regular stops at rest areas to allow your pet to relieve itself, get exercise and drink water. However, never let your pets run loose until you reach your destination - they can easily become disoriented or overexcited in a new area and run away.
- Avoid traveling in extreme weather conditions. Whether the temperatures are hot or cold, never leave your pet in a parked car. Within minutes, an animal can suffer from heat stroke or freeze.
- A supply of food and cold bottled water, plus enough for at least two extra days and dishes for both. Also remember to bring a can opener and spoon for canned foods.
- Pet carrier with bungee cords for keeping it from moving within the vehicle. A wire mesh carrier is best, since it allows for more ventilation.
- A blanket for bedding, and a towel in case your pet gets wet.
- Nylon or leather collar or harness and leash. Also, bring a muzzle if necessary. The ASPCA recommends a flat-buckled collar with an I.D. tag that includes the pet's name, plus your name, address, and phone number on it. If you are going to an area where your pet may come into contact with ticks and fleas, you may want to get an appropriate collar or other safe pest preventative.
- Your pet's favorite toys and healthy food treats.
- Litter supplies and garbage bags for disposal.
- Brush, nail clippers, shampoo and additional grooming supplies.
- A first-aid kit wth items similar to those found in your own kit - bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, ointment, scissors, tweezers and an emergency pet manual.
- Chewing preventative and carpet cleaner.