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Five Essential Tips for Traveling with Your Dog or Cat

By Judy Holderman of Truck Champ Inc., Guest Blogger

Chances are if you’re a dog owner, you know how much Buster loves to go for a ride in the car. Trucks are even better because you’re both up higher and can see so much more! But if you’re a cat owner, you probably take Fluffy along in the truck only when you absolutely have to–like a trip to the vet. Whatever your reason, regardless of which four-legged friend accompanies you, here are some basic essentials that will make the trip safer and more enjoyable for all of you.

Dogs should ride in a crate or special seatbelt.

Always Use a Crate or Carrier Bag
The last thing you need as you’re driving down the road is to have kitties under the brake pedal of your vehicle. Because they tend to be naturally nervous, cats will often go to the floor board when in a moving truck or car, and the results can be dangerous for everyone.

Dogs, on the other hand, want to see it all-preferably with their head hanging out the window. Not only can they become flying missiles in the event of a collision, but that behavior could possibly result in a broken neck for your dog. It is incredibly important to have a pet carrier bag, cage, or a crate for maximum safety. There are many styles of crates and carrier bags depending on the size of your pet, your personal taste, and budget.

Plan Breaks on Longer Trips
Have a leash and collar for breaks on longer trips. Collars should have current tags as well as your contact information. This may present an issue if you need to leash train your cat. Unlike dogs, Fluffy isn’t going to wag her tail and get happy when she sees a leash. I found several videos online about How to Leash Train Your Cat. It may sound a bit silly, but if you’re on the road quite a bit with your cat, this may be a practical option for you.

Make Your Pet As Comfortable As Possible
A blanket or pet pillow is perfect for napping on, and you can find all sizes to accommodate your needs. For nervous kitties, consider putting an article of your clothing in the carrier to remind them of home. Familiar toys for both cats and dogs are a wise idea. Food and water dishes and litter boxes can be placed in the crates. One helpful hint is to bring your own tap water from home for Fluffy as familiar water is more easily digested by nervous cat-tummies.

Don’t Leave Your Pet in the Truck or Car Alone
Temperatures in the summer rise quickly in vehicles, and can result in over-heating or even death for your cat or dog. Adversely, in the winter, temperatures drop and your pet can freeze. Keeping the vehicle running isn’t a wise solution since carbon monoxide poisoning is a risk. If you must leave your pet in the vehicle for a short time, be sure to open a window for ventilation in the summer. You will also want to make sure your pet is restrained before opening the car doors in case they decide to make an escape.

Prepare Your Pet for Riding in the Car or Truck
It’s always beneficial to train your pet while he is young, but you may not have had the opportunity to do that. With patience on your part, it’s never too late to begin the process. If your dog has never worn a harness either for a leash or to use with the vehicle’s seat belt, get him used to it at home. Have your pet wear the harness for short periods of time, and gradually increase the time. You also want to get your pet accustomed to the bag or crate he will be in while in the vehicle. Ideally, have your pet sleep in the carrier or crate that you will be using on the trip.

With attention to these few simple tips, your trip can be a pleasant experience for you and your four-legged companion. Happy trails to you!

Judy is an animal lover living in Wisconsin with her husband. In addition to spending time with her family, she works for Truck Champ, which sells an array of truck accessories.

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