Road Trips with Rover
A Solid Start:
The last thing anyone wants or needs is a sick or even semi sick grumpy pet, while hurling down the highway headed for rest and relaxation. A quick trip to your family vet will ensure your pet is up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations. The veterinarian can also issue a health certificate for your pet, if needed. If you and your pet will be traveling across state lines, you must obtain a recent health certificate and a certificate of rabies vaccination. If your plans include traveling with your pet from the United States to Canada, you will need to bring along a certificate issued by a veterinarian that clearly identifies the animal and certifies that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies during the preceding 24-month period. Be sure to contact the destination you plan to visit, as each province has its own requirements. Stuck at the border with Fido, being denied entry, would stress out even the most savvy road tripper.
Develop a plan ahead of time for how you’re going to properly restrain your pet in your vehicle. This is a critical element of pet travel that is often not taken seriously. The reality is that hundreds of pets are injured or even killed each year because they are allowed free reign in cars, trucks and SUVs. Even more real is the toll in human life and property damage caused when an enthusiastic animal distracts a driver, leading to an accident. Secured crate, vehicle pet barrier or a harness are all excellent ways to keep your pet (and you) safe.
I recommend you begin taking Fido for rides in the car several weeks prior to your trip. During these “test drives” you must secure your pet exactly as they will be during the trip. This will avoid any stress of “he hates his harness” and allow you to address problems ahead of time.
Packing for your pet:
Since you wont be home, make sure your pet’s collar or ID tag has your cell phone or email address so if lost and then found you can easily be contacted. I recommend you pack enough food for your pet for the duration of the trip, if you get to a rural location and no stores stock Fido’s high performance food, you’ll have one upset pet tummy during the food transition. Also, I recommend bringing the same bowls you feed your pet with at home and some of their favorite toys, so even in the new vacation spot your pet has familiar stuff.
Remember that Fido will likely need to stop every two hours or so to walk around and get some fresh air. During these pit stops, I recommend offering plenty of fresh water. What I don’t recommend is much in the way of solid food; a small snack is ok, but save big meals until you stop for the evening. This will help avoid the dreaded carsick pet. On that note, remember to bring a couple plastic trash bags and paper towels, just in case you have to clean an in-car explosion.
Most of all enjoy the travel time with your pet. Walking a pet at pit stops inevitably brings chit chat from locals you wouldn’t have met otherwise. As long as your pet is comfortable (his bed or favorite blanket perhaps) and with you, all will be great. Enjoy the journey! And please, “wag more and bark less.”
Jay Ramowski is a commercial helicopter pilot, automotive consultant and professional driver based in Charleston. Jay brings an easygoing love of all things mechanical and a particular passion for cars and the people who drive them.