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Some animals are used to riding in the car and even enjoy it. But most associate the inside of the carrier or the car with one thing only: the annual visit to the V-E-T. Considering that these visits usually end with a jab from a sharp needle, it’s no wonder that some pets forget their training and act up in the car.

  • If you have to, re-train your animal to view a drive as a reward. Take short trips to places that are fun for animals, such as the park or the drive-through window at a fast-food restaurant.

  • For safety reasons, pets should be confined to the back seat, either in a carrier or a harness attached to the car’s seat belt. In addition, a restrained animal will not be able to break free and run away the second the car door is opened.

  • To help prevent carsickness, feed your pet a light meal 4 to 6 hours before departing.

  • Do not give an animal food or water in a moving vehicle.

  • Never allow your pet to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. It’s illegal in some states; he also can jump out or be thrown. Harnessing or leashing him to the truck bed is not advisable either: if he tries to jump out, he could be dragged along the road or the restraint could become a noose.

  • Avoid placing animals in campers or trailers.

  • Don’t let your dog stick her head out the window, no matter how enjoyable it seems. Road debris and other flying objects can injure delicate eyes and ears, and the animal is at greater risk for severe injury if the vehicle should stop suddenly or be struck.

  • AAA recommends that drivers stop every 2 hours to stretch their legs and take a quick break from driving. Your pet will appreciate the same break. Plan to visit a rest stop every 4 hours or so to let him have a drink and a chance to answer the call of nature.

  • Be sure your pet is leashed before opening the car door. This will prevent her from unexpectedly breaking free and running away. Keep in mind that even the most obedient pet may become disoriented during travel or in strange places and set off for home.
Hint: If your pet is not accustomed to traveling, use a harness instead of a collar; it is more difficult for an animal to wriggle out of a harness.
 
NEVER leave an animal in a parked car, even if the windows are partially open. Even on pleasant days the temperature inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes, placing your pet at risk for heatstroke and possibly death. On very cold days, hypothermia is a risk. Also, animals left unattended in parked cars can be stolen.

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Find this information and more in Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook®.

 
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