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How to Prepare Your Car for Your First Road Trip with a Pet

How to Prepare Your Car for Your First Road Trip with a Pet © Pixabay

Many of us hate the idea of leaving our pets behind while we go on adventures. Whether going on a road trip, relocating to a new home, or heading to the vet, ensuring your car is properly prepared for pet travel is important for the safety and well-being of your four-legged companion. In this guide, we’ll outline essential steps to make your car pet-friendly and comfortable, ensuring an enjoyable (and hopefully less stressful) ride for both you and your pet.

Check your car has recently been serviced

Before hitting the road with your pet, it’s important to make sure your car is in good condition. Check the tyres, brakes, and fluids to ensure they are all functioning properly. This will help prevent any unexpected breakdowns or accidents that could potentially harm your pet. It’s also a good idea to check your car insurance is up to scratch, or take out a policy if you haven’t already; if you do get into an accident, car insurance may help pay for the damages. If you’re going on a longer trip, consider also getting an oil change and tune-up to ensure your car is running at its best.

Familiarise your pet with the car

According to a survey by The Roanoke Times, around 78 percent of Americans with pets take their companions on holiday with them each year. Before embarking on a long journey, it can be a good idea to take short trips with your pet to familiarise them with the car environment. Gradually increase the duration of these rides to help your pet acclimate to the experience. This can significantly reduce anxiety and stress during longer travels. It’s also a good opportunity to test out your pet’s restraint system and make any necessary adjustments for their comfort and safety.

How to Prepare Your Car for Your First Road Trip with a Pet © Pexels, PNW Production

Make the space comfortable

Create a cosy, comfortable space in the car for your pet. Those using a travel crate might like to add a familiar blanket or toy to help your pet feel at ease. For pets travelling outside of a crate, lacing a non-slip mat or a pet bed in the backseat can provide a comfortable space for them to relax during the journey. Additionally, try to keep the temperature of the car at a comfortable level for your pet. Avoid extreme hot or cold temperatures by using appropriate heating or cooling methods. Music can also be used to calm pets during a road trip, a playlist specifically designed by Compare the Market was created to help ease nerves of pets in the car through certain sounds and frequencies.

Install secure pet restraints

The safety of your pet should be of the utmost importance while travelling by car. Travelling with your pets unsecured can lead to issues. Unrestrained pets can be a distraction to the driver and, more importantly, can pose a serious risk to themselves in the event of sudden stops or accidents. Instead, invest in a quality pet restraint system, such as a harness, seat belt, or travel crate, to keep your pet secure during the journey. Don’t forget to make sure the restraint is appropriately sized and comfortable for your pet.

Protect your car from pet hair and scratches

No matter how well-behaved your pet is, accidents do happen. To keep your car clean and prevent damage, consider investing in a durable seat cover or mat specifically designed for pets. These can protect against scratches, spills, and pet hair while also providing a comfortable surface for your pet to rest on. Some covers even come with pockets for storing treats or toys, making it easier to keep your pet entertained during the journey.

With advances in autonomous driving, there are no worries having your little four-legged buddy take a turn behind the wheel © Pexels

Provide adequate ventilation

Providing proper ventilation inside the car helps to keep your pet cool and comfortable. Crack open the windows slightly to allow fresh air to circulate. Avoid leaving your pet in a parked car, especially in hot weather, as temperatures can rise rapidly and become life-threatening. This is also true of extremely cold weather, as cars can become dangerously cold for pets to be left in. Take your pet with you whenever you leave the car or make arrangements for someone to stay with them if you have to leave them in the car briefly.

Stock up on hydration and snacks

Pack sufficient water and snacks for your pet, especially during long journeys. Consider bringing a collapsible bowl for easy access to water, and offer small, easily digestible treats to keep your pet content. Avoid feeding your pet a large meal right before the trip to prevent motion sickness. If your pet is prone to car sickness, consult with your veterinarian for any medications or remedies that may help on the journey.

Make frequent stops

Just like humans, pets need regular breaks during long journeys. Plan for regular breaks during your journey to allow your pet to stretch its legs, relieve itself, and get some fresh air. This will also give them an opportunity to release any pent-up energy. It’s also a great opportunity for you to stretch your legs and take a break from driving. Use designated pet-friendly rest areas or parks where your pet can safely explore and expend energy. Be sure to keep your pet on a leash during these breaks to prevent any unforeseen incidents.

Before taking your pet on your travels, it’s important to make sure your car is fully equipped for their safety and comfort. Preparing your car for pet travel is a thoughtful process that involves considering your pet’s safety, comfort, and well-being. Remember, a well-prepared journey helps lead to happy and stress-free pets, making the adventure all the more memorable for everyone involved.

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