Summertime is almost synonymous with road trips. When the kids are out of school and the days are longer, summer is the perfect time to escape the hustle and bustle of Vancouver and explore different corners of beautiful BC.

Travelling by car is a very popular summer holiday pursuit, and for many, these vacation plans will also include the family pet. But before embarking on your next summer adventure, here are a few driving safety tips every pet owner should know.

Schedule a Pet Checkup at Your Animal Wellness Clinic

If it’s been a while since your pet visited their Vancouver area animal wellness hospital or clinic, it’s a good idea to book an appointment before any long summer road trips to ensure your pet is healthy and ready to enjoy the journey. Even if your pet does love to ride in the car, travelling to new areas comes with risk. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are current and ask your Vancouver animal wellness centre for a copy of all vaccination records to carry with you. If you are travelling to the U.S., you will need to show proof of rabies vaccination.

Although dogs have developed a reputation for loving a good car ride, travelling can be stressful for some animals. Your Vancouver animal wellness centre will have lots of information on dealing with pet travel anxiety. And if all else fails, they can prescribe calming supplements to help your pet settle.

Before travelling, check to ensure your pet’s tag (or a microchip) is up to date with the correct contact information just in case.

Secure Your Pet in the Car

Travelling with pets is much like travelling with small kids and we’re not talking about the frequent bathroom breaks. The safest place for pets to sit is in the backseat or cargo area, secured with either a pet harness or a crash-rated crate. For cats, hard-bodied pet carriers are safer than soft-shell carriers. In the event of an accident, unsecured pets can become unwitting projectiles, potentially injuring themselves, people in the car, or other vehicles.

No matter how small your pet is, they do not belong on laps while driving. Lap pets are a major distraction for drivers and can be seriously injured or even killed by airbag deployment.

Pack up Pet Essentials

To keep your pet comfortable on the road, make sure they have access to food, water, and somewhere comfortable to lie down to sleep.

And remember, even pets get bored at times on long drives. Keep your pet occupied and mentally stimulated during long stretches on the road with a few new or favourite toys, and plan for a few extra pitstops to stretch everyone’s legs.

Plan Your Route

Spontaneity is great but can be challenging when travelling with pets. Map out your road trip route ahead of time and pre-book pet-friendly accommodations. Another great option is to camp rather than rely solely on hotels; it provides you more flexibility and your pet more room to run.

Never Leave Your Pet Locked Alone in The Car

If you are not in the car, your pet shouldn’t be either, under any circumstances. Even on a mild day, the temperature in the vehicle can reach fatal levels in as little as an hour. It doesn’t matter if you’ve parked in the shade or left the window open a crack as leaving your pet unattended in a parked vehicle for extended periods is never ok.