Summer is here before we know it! What better way to have fun under the sun than to take our travel goals to the next level by bringing our companion animals along with us? Besides, animals need a vacation, too!

However, this needs preparation as it can be a stressful experience for both the animals and the human companion if not done properly. So, how do we do it safely?

Go on a road trip

Hitting the road is probably the easiest way to travel with your companion animals! No delayed flights or missing luggage to worry about.

Keep those heads inside

It’s no secret that dogs love to stick their heads outside the car window with their tongues out, but it’s best to keep them inside the car, especially during long drives or in highways. That way, animals don’t get injured by harmful objects or debris.

Animals also shouldn’t be transported at the back of an open pickup truck, to make sure they don’t jump off.

Do a trial run

If you’re going to embark on a long trip with your companion animals, it’s best to have a trial run first — say, a shorter trip to the supermarket before a long trip out of town — so you’ll see what issues may arise. You will also have more time to think of solutions to problems.

Having a trial run is also recommended for companion animals who are always at home or have anxiety and social issues.

Buckle up

A study by the American Automobile Association says 30,000 accidents are caused in the US each year by a companion animal roaming in the car or being in the front seat as they could cause a distraction.

Animals can easily get injured if they’re not buckled up, so make sure to keep them in an animal car seat or carrier.

Front seats for humans only

We assure you, it’s not species discrimination. This is for safety reasons.

Keep your companion animals in the backseat, just like how toddlers and babies must also be in their child car seat at the back instead of being with the adult in front, no matter how clingy they are.

Make time for bathroom breaks

Make sure to give your furry companions plenty of rest stops so they can stretch out and have bathroom breaks. This prevents health problems, irritability, and anxiety.

Don’t leave them alone

Have you ever stayed in a car with the engine turned off? Hot and suffocating, isn’t it? Sometimes, it even becomes unbearable that you just can’t help but turn the engine on again.

A short stop at the convenience store might be nothing to you, but for furry travelers, it could feel like years. Being in a car for a long time could lead to irreversible organ damage or, worse, death.

“When it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes,” according to The Humane Society of the United States.

Hydration is key

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests keeping a gallon of water in the car to make sure that companion animals are fully hydrated. Snacks are also needed in long trips.

Consider getting a big carrier

If you can’t find an airline that provides an individual crate for a furry friend, consider preparing a carrier with enough room for an animal to move freely and stand without hitting their head.

To make the flight even safer for your companion animal, it’s important to put beddings, blankets, toys, food, and water in the carrier. Using “live animal” stickers and upright arrows reminds airline staff that they are handling sentient beings who need extra care.

Prepare the documents

Let’s face it: Some airlines mix up the cargo and your baggage might get sent somewhere else. Always prepare your companion animals’ documents, such as health history, vaccinations, and any requirements for quarantine or isolation.

ID tags on your companion animals’ collars and carriers that indicate your contact information are also helpful, in case they get misplaced.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s April 2019 issue.