Covering the car seat and bringing along toys can make your pet’s road trip much more enjoyable

By Linda Marx
Updated December 08, 2009 02:00 AM

Can’t leave home without your dog this Thanksgiving? Traveling with your pet may not be as difficult as you think. We spoke to pet expert Steve Dale, a certified dog and cat behavior specialist with the syndicated radio show My Pet World, about what you need to know for a smooth ride on the road.

Dale, who has several pets of his own – from a mini Australian Shepherd to a playful lizard – shares some do’s and don’ts:

1. Do cover the seat. Don’t expect everyone to care as much as you do about your pets. “If you get to your destination a few days early and other family members hop on the seat where the pet has been sitting, they won’t want to get dog or cat hair all over their clothes,” says Dale. By using a front or back seat cover, the space is kept clean. We recently spotted these attractive seat covers, available at

2. Don’t give your pet over-the-counter medicine for car sickness. “There is a wonderful new motion sickness drug called Cerenia that inhibits the animals impulse to throw-up,” explains Dale. “Don’t give them Dramamine or anything like that; ask your vet for Cerenia to avoid any problems in the car.”

3. Do head off dangers with the right accessories. Use dog seats, carriers or straps, especially for smaller animals. Other drivers will thank you for being considerate, and it is easier to watch the road without distraction.

4. Don’t forget to make frequent potty stops. Every 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours is ideal so pets can sniff the grass, stretch their legs, run and use the outdoor facilities. “It gets dull for pets in the car,” says Dale, who travels with his dog. “They love to see new terrain so they can learn what other pets are up to and gossip about what they find!” For cats, a leash could be an option for those that are cooperative.

5. Do bring games and grub. Don’t forget water bottles and a bowl for the car floor, their normal amounts of food and treats, and plenty of toys to keep them interested. A happy pet is a good traveler.

6. Do pack their medications and photos. Dale believes it is important for pets to wear their collars with ID tags. “Then be sure and carry photos of the pet, all medications, names of other pills they take, and the telephone number of the vet,” he says. “It is always better to be prepared when you are on the road.”

Happy trails!