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Safe Vacation Travel Tips For Your Pet

photo of white German Shepard in a crate in the back of an SUV

Helpful Travel Tips

When you have an outing this season, you may want to take your pet along with you. After all, this member of your family needs fun and relaxation, too.

There are some things to keep in mind when traveling with a pet, depending upon the type of destination you’re headed to and how you’re getting there. According to The Humane Society, some pets aren’t suited for travel. Check with Whitworth Animal Clinic or a veterinarian in your area before committing to taking your pet along with you on a trip, whether you’re going to the beach, a lake, or headed for some relaxation in the woods.

Transportation With Pets

If you’re taking your pet with you on a long car ride to your destination, be prepared so she is safe and happy. Take the following precautions before setting off on that car journey:

  • Dogs should travel in a crate that is anchored to the car’s seatbelt. Dog restraints and seatbelts are helpful in stopping your pet from roaming throughout the vehicle, but not safe should a crash occur.
  • Place your cat in a carrier that is restrained by securing a seatbelt around the carrier’s front.
  • Make lots of stops for exercise and elimination.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in the car, even for a few minutes. A car’s interior can get hot very quickly, causing extreme health issues.


If your trip involves a boat ride with your pet, be sure there is enough fresh drinking water on board. Make sure there is a shaded area for your pet to relax, and that your dog’s feet are protected from hot surfaces. It’s a good idea to equip your dog with a life jacket on a boat, whether or not he is a good swimmer. Even great swimmers can quickly get exhausted in the water.

Preparing For Your Destination

You can have a great time at the beach with your pets. Be prepared, though, and mind these safety hints before you take off for sun and fun. Bring the following items along with you:

  • A beach umbrella so your dog has shade from the sun
  • Lots of fresh, cool water and a bowl (not placed in the direct sun!)
  • A towel or blanket to protect your dog’s paws from the hot sand
  • Watch for signs that your pet is becoming overheated
  • If your dog has a light-colored coat or very short haircut, consider applying sunscreen made specifically for dogs


Time at the lake with your pet can be loads of fun, but take these precautions before taking your dog swimming at a lake:

  • photo of a Staffordshire bull terrier diving into water wearing a life jacketDon’t let your dog swim in stagnant water that can have dangerous amoeba floating in it
  • Blue-green algae in lakes can be toxic if your dog eats it
  • Outfit your pet with a life jacket if your dog is not a strong swimmer
  • Have clean, fresh water on hand and a dog bowl
  • Have a first aid kit
  • Dry your dog’s ears after a swim
  • Check your pet’s body all over for ticks, cuts, and other potential health issues


If going into the woods for camping or hiking with your pet, be sure you pack the right supplies (rubbing alcohol, tweezers for picking out thorns, bandages, etc.). Have plenty of clean water available and a life jacket for your dog in case there is a lake or pond nearby for swimming. Check your pet for ticks often. Always keep your dog on a leash when walking on woodland trails to protect against him eating toxic plants and other unknown elements. Let your pet sleep in the same tent as you do for protection and warmth.

The tips for pet travel are basically the same for cats who are leash-trained and allowed in the areas you are traveling to.

For more information on pet travel, it’s a great idea to consult your vet. If you live in Madison or the surrounding areas in north Alabama, the professionals at Whitworth Animal Clinic are available to answer your questions.

This blog does not take the place of professional veterinarian advice. Make an appointment with Whitworth Animal Clinic for more information.

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