Tips for Safe, Secure Summer Travel with Family Pets on Board | Zoology


Our Tuesday series today features pet travel preparedness as we will soon be in the midst of summer vacation season. Even with the recent high prices of gasoline and related fuels, many families still plan to take the proverbial “summer road trip,” and more families than ever before plan to take their pets along for the ride, especially those with dogs.

Most hotels now provide pet friendly accommodations, as do most Airbnb rentals. Therefore, it’s wise to plan in advance to be as prepared as possible to achieve a happy, healthy and safe trip with your pet in tow. Here are some suggestions designed to best accomplish this:

• Take practice trips in advance! A long drive on a weekend can serve as a good baseline for your pet. You’ll also have the benefit of seeing just how your pet reacts to a long ride in your vehicle.

• Be sure your pet is properly restrained in the vehicle. Eliminate distractions so that safe driving can be achieved. Always remember that your first responsibility is to drive safely and keep your eyes on the highway.

• Be sure to bring all collars, dog tags and identification numbers on your pet at all times. Make sure it’s updated to include your cellphone number(s) so that in the event your pet runs off, you can be contacted directly. Many owners also prefer to have a microchip inserted below the skin as an extra measure of tracking if and when it may ever be needed.

• Prepare your vehicle for the trip by taking along familiar blankets or pet beds. The familiarity and known scent will help calm your pet during your travels.

• Keep all important pet-related documents with you. Keep your veterinarian’s telephone number handy and take all proof of vaccinations and such with you.

• Be sure to take regular breaks every few hours. Take breaks for walks and exercise beyond the requisite bathroom breaks you’ll need to regularly take. A good rule of thumb is to take a minimum of two walking breaks for each five hours of automobile travel.

• Bring enough dry food to last 1.5 times the number of days you plan to travel away from home. A little extra may be needed here and there as treats to elicit good behavior on the road. Give out extra food sparingly but have it available in case it’s needed.

• Be sure to have extra water in your vehicle for your pet. Extra bottled water is ideal for this purpose so that you will not be seeking out public water fountains in areas you are unfamiliar with.

• Always be sure to keep your pet’s area well-ventilated but do not allow the “head out of the window” experience when driving at high speeds on major highways. And whenever you park, no matter how short the planned duration of the stop, be certain to seek out a shaded area. Summer temperatures can harm a pet left in direct sunlight in a matter of only a few minutes. Once you’ve taken these precautions, your peace of mind should be greatly elevated, and your pet can enjoy the scenery and new experiences to be had all around the new landscape you’ll be exploring.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


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