national pet travel safety dayCreated by celebrity pet and family lifestyle expert Colleen Paige in order to heighten awareness of the traveling needs of dogs and cats, January 2 marks National Pet Travel Safety Day.

This is the time to make a resolution to keep your dog or cat safe every time you get in the car. Whether pet travel means a dog-friendly vacation, day trip, visit to a dog park, trip to the veterinarian, or a ride home from the shelter, it’s important to make each and every trip a safe one!

The tips below focus on keeping your pet safe while traveling in the most frequently used mode of transportation – our automobiles.

Our Best Thoughts on National Pet Travel Safety Day:

10 tips to make sure your pet travels safely in the car

  1. Just as moms would never leave the driveway without ensuring that children are safely buckled in with a seat belt or securely fastened into baby car seats or booster seats, so your fur baby should also be restrained when you get behind the wheel. An unsecured dog is a danger to your dog, your passengers, and the driver.
  2. Cats travel best in their carrier. Help make travel easier on your cat by making the carrier a safe place for your cat. Leave the carrier out and open at home, lined with a cuddly blanket or sweater. Toss your cat’s favorite treats and toys inside then let your cat come and go at will.
  3. Secure carriers with a seat belt so that, in the event of a sudden stop, the carrier is secured.
  4. Make sure your pet is properly vaccinated. Talk with your veterinarian about proper vaccinations. Travel often means coming in contact with other animals so be prepared.
  5. Look at pheromone products. Pheromone products produce an overall feeling of comfort and safety mimicking the pheromones released by a nursing mother. Sprays you can spritz on a pet carrier or a pet mat are easy for travel in the car and a hotel room.
  6. Don’t let your dog ride in your lap. Are you old enough to remember children riding in the front seat in their mother’s laps? (Yep, we are!) Today no one would think of letting children in their lap yet many people sit in the front seat–and even in the driver’s seat–with their dog or cat in their lap. Riding with a pet in your lap is illegal in several states with proposed legislation in other states–but you don’t have to rely on a law to do the right thing for both you and your dog. Please secure your dog or cat (in his carrier) in his own seat.
  7. Don’t let your dog ride in the front passenger seat. The weight of your dog or your cat’s carrier sitting the passenger seat will signal to the corresponding air bag that it needs to deploy in the case of an accident, possibly injuring (or worse) your pet with its 200 mph force when it suddenly deploys. If you put your small dog in the passenger seat, he needs to be up on a booster seat that doesn’t apply any weight to the seat itself. Some cars have on-off switches for the passenger air bags as well. In general, though, the back seat is the safest place for your dog or for your cat carrier!
  8. Don’t let your dog ride in the bed of a pickup. You’d think this would go without saying but people still continue to travel with dogs in pickup beds. More and more states are making this illegal but regardless of the law in your location, never drive with a dog in the bed of a pickup.
  9. Don’t let your dog stand on the center console. Dogs (even secured dogs in seat belts) in the back seat can sometimes reach that console between the front seats. If your dog is putting his front feet on the console to get attention, he’s distracting you as you drive.
  10. Travel with food and litter. While it takes up some space, it’s much easier to travel with your pet’s food and your cat’s favorite brand of litter rather than shopping for it at your destination (or, worse, finding yourself having to buy a different brand.)

    10 More National Pet Travel Safety Day Tips

  11. Microchip your pet. Even if your dog or cat wears a collar with a tag, it pays to have your vet place a permanent microchip in your cat in case she should be lost on a trip.
  12. When you get your pet microchipped, be sure to register that number with a service such as HomeAgain.
  13. Check your pet’s ID tag; if it is damaged or hard to read, replace it.
  14. Create a tag with your cell number. It’s also a good idea to create an ID tag with your cell phone number.
  15. Travel with a pet first aid kit.
  16. Consider a high-tech tracker. For added protection beyond the tag, look into high-tech tag options that use GPS or Bluetooth technology to help you track a lost pet using an app on your cell phone.
  17. Carry the scent of home. Your pet’s favorite blanket is a comforting scent of home in a new place, whether that’s the carrier, vet’s office or hotel room.
  18. If you’re traveling out of town, look up the address and phone number of animal hospitals at your destination and along the trip route. Print out the information or add it to your smartphone for easy access.
  19. Choose car travel whenever possible. Car travel is less stressful on dogs and cats than air travel. Budget extra time during car travel for frequent stops; keep a dog walking bag packed with poop bags as well as tasty treats for short stops along the way.
  20. Rethink a trip if your pet is too large to fly in the cabin with you. If your dog is too large to fly in the cabin (20 pounds max, depending on the airline), think long and hard before considering a flight with him in cargo. It’s extremely stressful and, for some pets, dangerous.
  21. 5 Bonus National Pet Travel Safety Day Tips

  22. Carry a record from your home vet confirming that your dog or cat has had all the necessary shots. Hotels and other lodging establishments may require showing proof of vaccinations at check-in.
  23. Pack an emergency card in your wallet explaining that you are traveling with X number of pets, their descriptions, and your veterinarian’s contact information in case you should be involved in an accident.
  24.  To prevent dehydration, pack plenty of water and a water bowl for your trip. A clip-on water bowl is useful for hikes and roadside stops, too.
  25.  Give your dog opportunities to stretch his legs with rest stops every two or three hours. Not only is it good for your dog, but the stop is good for the driver as well.
  26. Remember that you should NEVER leave a dog or cat alone in a car. Doing so puts your pet at risk of heat injuries, hypothermia and theft.
Yes, it is a boatload of tips! Read through them and make a plan for your pets, so that they can safely travel with you and if you have an emergency – you will be prepared to deal with it. If you have questions about whether your pet is healthy enough to travel, please ask your local veterinarian.

If you liked these tips, you may like: 7 Cold Weather Pet Safety Tips for the New Year and 5 Tips to Giving First Aid for Pets.

Attribution: From our friends at