Roll down the windows, because the best time of year is here — road trip season. But before you load up the car, remember to plan for the four-legged member of your family. 

Whether it’s a dog, cat or another kind of furry friend, pets require preparation before embarking on a road trip adventure. We’ve got you covered, though, with top pet travel tips from the experts. It won’t be long before you and your co-pilot are hitting the open road.

Never leave your pet alone in the car
According to the AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS (ASPCA), you should always stay with your pet in the car. During the summer, a parked vehicle can quickly turn into a hot oven, even with the windows open. In addition to risking heatstroke, leaving your pets alone in your vehicle also makes them vulnerable to theft.

Take your pet on a series of short drives
The ASPCA recommends preparing your pets for a long drive in the car. To get them ready, start bringing them along on shorter car rides and gradually increase the distance.

Plan a feeding schedule
Feeding your pet in a moving car can be a bad idea. The ASPCA recommends giving your pet a light meal 3 to 4 hours before departure. In addition, always give them bottled water, rather than tap. If pets drink water from an area they aren’t used to, it can lead to an upset stomach.

Implant a microchip
According to VET STREET, a collar and tag isn’t enough to keep track of your pet. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping, which involves inserting a small implant under your pet’s skin that can be tracked via GPS. Losing a pet in an unfamiliar place is a pet owner’s worst nightmare, and a microchip is a great way to give you peace of mind. According to PET FINDER, this procedure can be done for less than $50.

Keep cats and dogs safe in a crate or carrier
According to THE RED CROSS, not only does placing pets in secured carriers protect them from abrupt stops, it also protects the driver from distractions. Use a crate that’s large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. 

Don’t forget the supplies
Last, before you hit the road with your pet, make sure you have the right supplies. Here are a few items to pack for your pet:

  • Temporary travel tag for your pet’s collar that includes a cell phone number where you can be reached during the trip
  • Rabies vaccination records (especially when traveling across state lines)
  • Well-ventilated crate or carrier
  • Waste scoop and plastic bags
  • Food (don’t forget your pet’s favorite treats)  
  • First aid kit filled with medications, towels, antiseptic, super glue and medical wrap
  • Favorite toys, blankets and pillows
  • Plenty of drinking water

When it comes to road tripping, there’s no time like summer. And with a little preparation, the open road can be fun for the whole family — furry members included.

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