Those iconic images of dogs hanging their heads out of car windows on sun-soaked highways are cute, but pet owners shouldn’t use them as inspiration for their own road trips. Allowing pets to roam freely in your vehicle—or allowing them to sit on your lap—is risky. And you could also be subject to a $233 fine under Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, if your pet is deemed to be impeding your safe use of your steering wheel or brakes, or if it’s obstructing your view in any direction.
With that settled, here’s what to pack for a safe and satisfying road trip with four-legged friends.
BOTTLED WATER, SNACKS & DISHES
On long stretches of highway, your pet needs to hydrate and recharge. Pre-bagged snacks and collapsible plastic dishes are great for road trips.
COMFORTS OF HOME
Her favourite chew toy or ball, a comfy blanket, a bed that smells like home: these will help your pet relax on the road, especially in stressful situations, like rough ferry rides, loud traffic jams and thunderstorms.
LOCAL PET SMARTS
Do some digging and find a vet in your destination, as well as details on any pet rules or bylaws. Websites such as Bring Fido and Pet Friendly give owners the scoop on hotels and attractions that welcome pets.
PET FIRST-AID KIT
Buy one or make your own, with antibiotic ointment and wipes, gauze, tape, scissors, surgical gloves, hydrogen peroxide and any medications your pet takes (along with any others your vet may recommend, like travel sedatives or tick treatments).
CARRIER OR HARNESS
Cats and other small animals should ride in secured carriers. A dog can travel inside a secured kennel or wear a dog seat belt. These special harnesses come in different sizes and attach to a standard back-seat belt. The fit should be snug but still allow the dog to stand, sit or lie down while buckled in.
Pack identification and vaccination records, along with a recent photo of your pet—and extra tags in the unlikely event he or she goes missing.