I’m a vet, and these are the things you should consider before taking your pet on the road.
Dr. Jo Myer, veterinarian at Vetster, shares everything you need to know before you get on the go.
Planning a road trip with your pet can be exciting but also overwhelming, especially if your pet has never gone on a trip before. When traveling with a furry friend, there are so many considerations it’s sometimes hard to know where to start.
Before you go
A little bit of preparation can go a long way when traveling with your pet. Get the ball rolling with these pre-road trip tasks.
Do a practice run: If your pet is not a frequent traveller, it is a good idea to get them accustomed to riding in the car before you embark on a longer trip. A little trial and error may be necessary to determine the best strategies for a smooth ride. For example, if your pet gets anxious or vomits in the car, you won’t want to wait until the start of a 15-hour drive to discover that. Keep safety in mind as well. While some pets may be fine in car seats or safety harnesses, other pets may need to be in their kennel while in the car for the safety of the driver.
Pit stops: Plan for frequent pit stops for both you and your furry companion. Scheduling adequate pit stops will ensure you and your pet are comfortable and relaxed on your journey. While large highway rest areas may be pet-friendly, also consider other locations, such as parks or beaches, that may offer a more enjoyable break for you and your pet. Taking a break also gives you a chance to enjoy exploring your surroundings with your pet, which is the reason you brought them along in the first place.
Check the pet policy at your accommodations: When booking a room or campsite, ask in advance about their policies on pets. Some may have specific rules, fees, or fines regarding pets you’ll want to know about ahead of time. You can also ask about nearby locations for exercise and exploration.
Note down the details of an on-demand vet: Just in case any health issues do pop up whilst you’re away, it’s a great idea to have an on-demand online vet service in mind for any advice whilst on the go. offers 24/7 on-demand, online virtual care appointments from anywhere.
Vaccines & Parasite Prevention: Make sure your pet is always up to date on their vaccines whether they are traveling or not and keep a photo of your pet’s vaccination records on your phone or a paper copy in the glove box for easy reference. For dogs and cats, proof of current rabies vaccination is a legal requirement nearly everywhere. Make sure your pet has been treated with external flea and tick prevention before you leave. If you are going to be away for an extended period of time, bring extra treatment applications to ensure your pet will be covered at all times.
Get a clean bill of health: Visit your in-person veterinarian to get a clean bill of health for your pet before you leave. Even if your pet appears healthy, plan this well in advance of your trip. Pets with chronic illnesses or who take medications will also benefit from a check-up to make sure they’re all set for the trip. If you’ve been considering getting a microchip for your pet, this is the perfect reason to have that done.
Your pet’s vacation packing list
Just like humans, making a packing list for your pet can help ensure you have everything you need for your trip. Don’t forget to pack these must-have items when traveling with your pet:
- Medications (always take extra, just in case)
- Chew toys for dogs and a favourite toy or two to keep your pet entertained
- Flea and tick prevention
- Poop bags, potty pads, and litter boxes
- Leashes, harnesses, and collars
- An ID tag that has your contact information. If possible, add an extra tag with the information of the location where you will be staying.
- (Collapsible) bowls for food and water
- A flotation device for dogs if you plan on taking your pup out on the water
- Your pet’s crate
- A car seat or safety harness
- An extra towel for your pet
- First aid kit