Traveling with pets can be a challenge at times. However, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
Pets travel all over the country, and they need protection from fleas, ticks, and heartworms year-round. They need to always wear a collar with their name, your contact info, and contact info of someone that’s not in the truck in case of an accident. Chipping your animals is not enough, as many humane shelters do not check for a chip.
Pets need plenty of water, and I created a blog that talks about a good water dish that works for cats and dogs, and the best part is that water does not slosh all over the truck. I created a video about the water dish we use that you can view here. Make sure to feed your pet's food that can be easily found when away from home, in case you run out. Some pets are sensitive to different waters, so you might want to use bottled water.
When pets are young, they like to chew, so provide plenty of chew toys, and chew sticks to keep them from gnawing on the truck’s interior. While they are young, teach what is permissible and what is not. We taught our kitty, Squeaky, that he cannot be on the dash when the truck is running from a young age. “Get off the dash,” is the only command he responds to, and we have a much better vision of the road with him, not on the dash. We taught our dog, Texas, that she could not lay near our feet when driving, Squeaky also knows that he cannot get under our feet as well.
Squeaky is not allowed to get out of the truck until we get home, and we are lucky he does not want to get out. In special circumstances, if we have to take him out to have the truck searched, he has a harness he wears. He yowls the whole time wanting back into the truck. A friend of ours let their cat get out and wander around when they were parked. The cat had been in the truck since he was a kitten, and he always stays close to the truck while nosing around. He had just gotten out, and the shipper called and said, "we need you at the dock right now to get your freight." The owners could not find the cat, and he did not come when called. They went and loaded, went back and searched the area, the cat was never found. It was so sad as the cat was old and I am sure very frightened. The cat was chipped, and that is when we learned that many shelters do not have the equipment to look for a chip.
Texas loves to get out and go for walks, chase her ball, or lie by Bob as he works on the truck. She was taught from a young age the command “Leave it,” usually used when teasing Squeaky, but it also works if she spies a tasty morsel, usually chicken bones on the ground. We have also taught her not to bark at other drivers walking by the truck. Not barking is not only essential for us as someone is often sleeping, it is good for the neighboring trucks also, as they could be sleeping.
Be prepared for the amount of hair a pet will shed daily. The cab air filters will need to be changed more often. An air hose in the cab of the truck helps to keep the hair blown out. A small handheld vacuum cleaner will help in the sleeper. Brushing a long-haired dog helps, but I do not think anything helps when they start shedding.
Buy a supply of pet waste bags and clean up after your dog. The bags are cheap and help contain the spread of diseases.
Buy a good leash and collar. Consider buying a heavy-duty instead of a retractable leash. A family member had a small dog that loved to run, and they had her on a retractable leash out for a walk at a rest area. She took off running, and when she hit the end of the retractable leash, the leash broke, and she ran out onto the interstate. It was a tragic accident with a bad ending for the little dog, and her owners were devastated.
Take care of your travel companions, and they will bring you hours of companionship and joy.