A lot of people simply can’t imagine living their lives without their furry companions.

A 2018 survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) showed that 68% of American households own a pet — a significant increase of 56% since 1988. Of that number, 37% of pet owners travel with their pets each year.

Whether you’re going on a vacation or moving to another state, traveling can be very stressful for you or your pet if you are not prepared. If you plan to travel with your pets, you need to take steps to prepare them for the trip. In this article, we’ll provide you with a quick and handy guide for long-distance pet transport.

Here is list to make a long-distance journey with pet more enjoyable:

  1. Train them for the journey
  2. Visit the vet
  3. Check local laws and regulations
  4. Prepare for the trip
  5. Keep your pet secure and comfortable
  6. Consider pet travel insurance
  7. Take breaks
  8. Pick a travel option

1. Train them for the journey

Long car rides can be bad for dogs and other animals if they are not prepared. It’s important to get your pets accustomed to traveling longer in a car if you’re making a major move with them.

You can help your pets get used to the idea of traveling by taking them on shorter trips first. If you haven’t done this before, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn their behavior and level of patience when they’re cooped up in a car.

Common Issues and How to Avoid Them

Always bring a towel or blanket when traveling with a pet. This will absorb any mess if your pet vomits or experiences diarrhea. 

Pets undergo stress or boredom when traveling. You can prevent this by providing your pet with comforting items like a familiar toy or blanket. 

Both cats and dogs need to go to the bathroom around 3-5 times a day. When traveling long distances, you should let your pet get out of the vehicle every two hours. Most dogs and cats can go much longer without needing to go, but the shorter periods help decrease stress and allow your pet to stretch their legs for a moment.

Car Anxiety

Both cats and dogs experience car anxiety. If your dog is reluctant to get into the car and pants, drools, shakes, barks, or yawns in excess, they’re probably experiencing some form of anxiety. 

Cats express their anxiety through increased vocalizations, slight panting, and trembling. Unlike dogs, cats don’t get better at traveling in a car over time. Dogs, on the other hand, can be trained to enjoy car rides.

Learn More About Car Anxiety for Dogs

Motion Sickness

Both cats and dogs can get motion sickness. The only way to find out if your pet gets motion sickness is to observe them while driving for an hour or two.

Set your pet up for success by feeding them a consistent diet before traveling. The worst thing you could do is to switch their diet. That would disrupt their digestive system and increase the chances of your pet becoming sick while traveling. 

There are over-the-counter medications for motion sickness. Some of these include Benadryl and Dramamine. These products are antihistamines and some have sedative effects. Your vet can also prescribe sedatives or nausea medication specifically for animals. Always contact a veterinarian before administering any new medication. 

Improper Carrier & Safety

It’s tempting to let your dog or other pet into the backseat of the car without any restraints or restrictions, but it’s also very dangerous. If you crash, your friend will become a projectile and likely sustain life-threatening injuries.

Crates and carriers are two of the safest ways to travel with your pet. These containers, made from plastic, metal, or fabric, make a secure enclosure for the animal. You can also buy a booster seat for small dogs, or use a seat belt and harness to keep pets restrained. 

If you’re not using any of these, try to set limits on where your pet goes during the car ride. Don’t let your dog hang their head out the window, any sudden change in direction could cause a serious neck injury. 

You should train your dog to sit and lie down in the backseat. It’s unsafe for them to be standing or moving. Standing in the vehicle puts pets off balance and creates a distraction for the driver.

Try to avoid leaving your animal in the car alone for any period of time. The inside temperature of a car can fluctuate to deadly levels in under an hour, even if you have the windows cracked. 

How to Help Your Pet Enjoy The Ride, Here are Some Ideas

Many pets can learn to enjoy traveling, it’s up to the owner to make it a fun and comfortable experience. Since many car seats aren’t level, try to find or make a level area for them to rest. 

Treats will work miracles when training a pet to enjoy travel. Give your pet a treat for exploring the inside of your car. Encourage them with praise to lie down or sit in the backseat. This will fight against anxiety and promote positive feelings your pet has about the vehicle. 

When driving, pay close attention to your pet’s emotional triggers. This observation will help you plan for future travel when you can minimize exposure to the stressor.

2. Visit the vet first

Make sure your pets visit the veterinarian first for a general checkup, vaccinations, medications, or any documentation they might need. If you noticed any signs of motion sickness during the shorter trips with your pet, your vet could prescribe some motion sickness medication.

Microchip implantation

This is a quick procedure necessary for most pets. If your pet doesn’t already have one, long-distance travel will make a microchip almost mandatory. If you’re ever separated from your animal, the chip will provide your contact information to whoever recovers them. 


Many international bodies require rabies vaccinations for both cats and dogs before travel. Updating your pet’s vaccinations before traveling is a smart preemptive step, especially if you’re traveling somewhere dangerous. 

Blood tests

If you’re unsure about your pet’s ability to travel, you can order a blood test from your vet. Blood work can identify disease and also evaluate organ function, hormone levels, and electrolyte status. These indicators can help establish if your pet’s physically ready to travel.  

Check for Parasites

Vets commonly diagnose parasites in cats and dogs through fecal samples. This is a simple procedure and can be finished within the same day of receiving the sample.

3. Check laws and regulations

Before hitting the road, make sure to review and understand all the regulations related to animals and pet ownership in your new state, city, apartment complex, etc.

Several states may require a health certificate from a vet. Some places have banned specific breeds of pets, so it’s essential to know this ahead of time. You can check the Department of Agriculture website to view some of these laws and regulations.

pet in car

4. Prepare for the trip

Planning is the best way to make any long-distance trip more manageable. Take some time to plan out the following steps:

  1. Pack Food And Water

Bring enough food and water plus a little extra in another container in case of spills or spoiling. 

  1. Bring The Necessities

Take everything you need to make the pet feel like they’re at home, no matter the destination. Bring food and water bowls, treats, a leash, medication, favorite toys, and waste disposal items. 

  1. Anticipate Accommodation Needs

Find and reserve pet-friendly hotels or B&Bs long before your trip. You should also have a list of stops to eat and take your pet for a walk. Leaving your pet in the car is unsafe and illegal in some areas.

5. Keep your pet secure and comfortable

Make sure your pets are safe and secure during the trip. You can buckle them in with a harness or dog seat belt. If they are in a crate, make sure it’s large enough for your pets to turn around in. Lay down a blanket or a pet bed to make the trip comfortable.

Crates and carriers enclose the animal while traveling, but there are slight differences. Crates traditionally are made of harder materials and are bigger than carriers. Carriers can be made out of flexible materials and are often used for short-distance travel with smaller pets.

6. Consider Pet Travel Insurance

Many people opt to purchase travel insurance for their pet. There are many types of plans that cover a range of injuries and ensure protection for pets during travel. Insurance packages cover specific periods and are flexible in price. 

7. Take breaks and stick to your pet’s routine

Pets like dogs usually urinate more during car rides because their anxiety levels are higher. Pull over every 2 to 4 hours to give them a chance to take a bathroom break and go on walks to lower their energy levels.

You should offer water to your pets at least once every hour so they won’t get dehydrated. Also stick to your pet’s normal feeding schedule so they won’t get hungry at odd times.

8. Pick a Travel Option

Automobiles and planes are the most common forms of pet transport. Traveling by automobile is less stressful for pets because it keeps them in contact with humans and allows for more breaks while in transit.

Travel by air is more expensive and stressful for the animal, but sometimes is necessary for long distances. Owners sometimes need to use a combination of both air and ground travel to escort their pet. Luckily, there are many companies out there providing long and short distance pet transportation.

How do I Transport My Pet for Long Distances?

Traveling or moving with your pets involves a lot of work, but that shouldn’t stop you from going on an amazing journey with your loyal companion.

With careful planning and dedication, you and your furry friend can get to your destination with no problems. If you’re moving, pet shipping services can help you relocate your animals seamlessly and safely.

Pet Van Lines is a pet transportation company that helps you transport your pets over long distances. If you want to learn more about our safe and hassle-free pet moving services, contact us today.

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