Safe Pet Transport: Creating a Comfortable and Secure Environment

rp_Gracie2.jpgTransporting your pets safely involves a lot more than just picking the right carrier cage. Taking a few steps to make them as comfortable and happy as possible is not only better for your animals but will make the journey safer and more pleasant for everyone.

Dogs vs. Cats

Dogs and cats have very different needs when being transported. It’s true that many dogs really enjoy car travel and hardly need to be coaxed to jump into the back and start the trip. For these dogs, sticking their head out of the window and smelling the wind is like a great movie to them: a non-stop sensory experience. You should be aware, however, that just letting the dog roam the backseat isn’t ideal. Many states have laws against driving with an unrestrained animal and it could result in a distracted driving citation. If your dog’s too big or your car’s too small for a carrier to fit in the backseat, most pet stores have a range of harnesses or tethers that will allow your pet to have some range of movement but still be much safer in the event of an accident.

Most cats and some dogs (especially smaller ones) tend to be very reluctant and unhappy travelers. They’ll start to hyperventilate or panic and attempt to hide under the seats and possibly get tangled up by the driver’s legs. The best idea for pets like these is a carrier which should also be secured to prevent sliding. Experiment with having a cloth draped over it because your pet may like a little more privacy and feel more secure with it, though some may prefer to be able to look out and see that you’re still there.

Before Transporting

Try and gently introduce your pet to traveling. Start with just sitting with him in the car and letting him get used to the new environment. Next take a short 10-15 minute trip and try to have someone sitting next to him in the back seat to monitor how he reacts. Do this a few times so hopefully he’ll be prepared to be in the carrier/harness for a longer time period.

During Transporting

Crack a window open a little to give you pet some fresh air (which also might help to keep him from feeling nauseous and making a mess of your backseat!). If your dog’s not in a carrier be sure to lock the doors and disable the automatic windows. If you’re transporting multiple pets be prepared to have to separate them because one might be panicking and agitating the other.

Stop every 3 or so hours to let your dog out and stretch his legs. Cats will appreciate some peace and quiet so now might be a good time to cover their carrier and avoid slamming the doors as much as possible.


  • Talk with your veterinarian if they have any suggestions about how to travel with your pet or if some sort of sedative might be recommended.
  • Bring familiar objects to reassure your pet like a favorite toy or a blanket.
  • Give them smaller, more frequent meals than usual in case their stomach gets upset or they have motion sickness.
  • Be sure your pets has a collar with their name and registration number and a separate tag with your contact information. If they have a microchip implanted also mention this in a tag so if they get lost someone will know to scan for it.


This post was contributed by KJ’s Superstores, s supply store chain throughout the Intermountain West. They assist travelers with the supplies they need while on the road. Visit any one of their locations in Twin Falls, Logan, Nampa, Idaho, or in Wyoming.


  • Linda Meyers-Gabbard

    Thank you for sharing this with us. We have two dogs that we very seldom take with us in the car. But when we do the do nothing but panic. I think we need to follow the advice given in this post to help them feel more at ease when we get ready to m move next month.


      All great tips especially covering the pet’s carrier with a blanket. We’ve moved house 15 times, usually with a couple of cats +/- a dog and only once had a bad experience when one of the cats managed to break open the door of the carrier and made a dash for it when we pulled over for a pitstop. Thankfully we managed to get her back with no harm done.


      A tip for Linda (above) re. moving house: They will know something’s up before you even start to pack, so try to keep calm. On the morning of the big day put the dogs in the car and leave them there until everything is in the new house so that your smells are in the new house. Reassure them with your voice and keep them close for the first few days till they settle down. Keep showing them where their new feeding/water station is. Hope all goes well!

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