Vacationing With Pets



Vacationing with pets on a car ride or other mode of transportation is a lot of work.  I remember all the preparation and equipment needed to take my two infant daughters on a trip years ago.  You end up playing 21 questions making sure you did not forget anything.  “Oh no, I forgot the special baby formula”!  The same identical preparation is in order for taking a dog or cat on vacation with you.  Some folks might vacationing with pets too much work and leave the pet at the veterinarians office or boarding kennel.


Before getting everything together for the family vacation, make sure you read Car Safety For Pets.  It includes many safety precautions when traveling with your pet.  Pets are identical to babies in many ways in that neither can pack a suitcase or bring along toiletries or food for the trip.  Preparations have to be done weeks ahead of even thinking about pulling out of the garage.




  • Take along a plastic jug of home tap water when vacationing with pets. Different water sources can often cause GI problems for the dog. Take along a container of a sports drink in case of GI issues.
  • Special Food. Make sure you take along enough cans or ziploc containers of your pets regular food to prevent GI upsets when vacationing with pets.
  • People need to sleep in motels so take along or use the internet to make sure your overnight stay is pet friendly.
  • For cats, make sure you take a litter box. A small version can be made by using a small aluminum tray or shoe box top filled with litter.
  • Take ID and a photo of your pet using your smart phone. Pets often are scared in strange environments and can run away. If your pet is micro-chipped, that is even better!
  • Don’t forget a leash or harness. Pets are just like kids at a rest stop; they want to barge right out of the vehicle. Always secure a leash first before opening the car door.
  • For the cat, do not forget to take a cat carrier. When cats panic they will climb your back. If they are not declawed it is very painful.
  • Like toddlers, pets can make an accidental mess or go to the bathroom in the vehicle. When vacationing with pets take along a roll of paper towels and some disinfectant.
  • Reward your pet by bringing along a new pigs ear or other toy and a toy filled with catnip for your furry cat friend.
  • Most pets are on heartworm or flea and tick preventative so bring that as well as any other prescription medications when vacationing with pets. If the animal is on life long drug therapy, make sure you have enough before you travel.
  • Vaccination Records. This is important if your pet gets ill along the way and needs to be seen by a veterinarian.
  • If your pet is nervous or gets motion sick, consult with your veterinarian beforehand about the possiblility of using: Benedryl®, Dramamine®, Acepromazine or Cerenia®. The latter two are prescription drugs.
  • If flying, make sure you have the appropriate health certificates from your veterinarian. Also, I recommend a dose of a tranquilizer (acepromazine) administered 2-3 hours before heading to the airport. Check with your airline for other specific preparations needed.



Vacationing with pets is the same as preparing a baby for a trip.



People need to stretch their legs and go to the restroom and so do your pets.  After a while on the road, attach a leash and take your pet on a short walk and let it go to the bathroom.  Make sure you clean up after your pet.  You might want to also offer it a small amount of food and water.  Do not let the dog or cat alone in a closed car as this can rapidly lead to heat stroke if traveling in warm weather.


If you are traveling with a cat, it might be a good idea to put the cat in the carrier before you open the doors.  Cats panic and will dart away in a heart beat!  There have been stories of cats finding their way home after running away on a trip but why take the chance?


Dogs also love hanging their heads out the window.  This might be fun for the dog but can lead to eye and or head injuries if something is thrown up from the road.  Better yet, keep the A/C on and shut the windows!


If you follow these recommendations, I am sure you will find vacationing with pets to be a safe, enjoyable family experience!

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