Taking your Pet on a Road Trip

Taking your Pet on a Road Trip
Taking your pet on a road trip

This is something that I have done. The adventure will help you avoid some of the pitfalls we faced, and it may give you a giggle as well. It started in September of 1981. We were going from West Virginia to California with two dogs. That is, we planned it that way. At the last minute my grandfather insisted that our cat come along.

Taking your Pet on a Road Trip

We had planned and prepared adequately (we thought) for the two dogs. The cat added a new dimension to the travels. Oh, the animals all got along, but we only brought two leashes. Can you imagine the sight other travelers got when we walked our cat on a string?


We were traveling in a van conversion. Five adult sized humans, a cat, an Irish setter and a cocker spaniel were crowded into it. You might think that the pet carriers took up a lot of room. After this trip without them, I highly recommend them.

The van conversion didn’t have seats other than the driver’s and the front passenger seat. We sat on the bed or on an ice chest between the two seats. No, we weren’t safe. This is especially true with loose animals.

We had tranquilizers for the dogs. This made things a little safer until some flies got into the van. A drunk Irish setter who is annoyed by flies is not a safe van mate. While tranqs are a good idea, beware of them as wellTaking your Pet on a Road Trip. They can backfire.

If we were to do this again, there are several changes I would make. First, everyone would have a seat and a seat belt. Second, the animals would be in pet carriers. That’s for their safety as well as ours. The cat didn’t need any tranquilizers, which was a relief, as we didn’t have cat-sized medications.

While all the animals had collars, none of them had any contact information on them. If they’d gotten loose, we would probably have never seen them again. It’s necessary to make sure they have both the collar and a chip. Collars can be slipped or removed.

Another problem the pets faced was hot asphalt and concrete. We didn’t have many choices where we could stop to let the pets relieve themselves. If you are going on a road trip when the weather is hot, make sure to bring paw boots along with you to protect your pads.

It’s also important to make sure there is enough air circulation in the vehicle. Air conditioning in some areas isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. The van got quite hot from Oklahoma to California, particularly in the desert areas.

We made it to our destination without anyone getting hurt. We did have many adventures on the trip, most of them unplanned. Furthermore, we lost a tire in the middle of a thunderstorm in the Painted Desert, among others. We were all… human and pet alike… glad to arrive in one piece.

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