Many people consider their pet to be a part of the family, so it’s no surprise that you want to take them in the truck with you. Taking your furry friend along makes an otherwise lonely trip more bearable, but it does require some planning to make sure your pet is well taken care of. Here are some tips to follow to ensure your friend is safe, healthy and keeps wagging their tail.

  • Food and Water - this seems obvious, but if you’re traveling in a truck, making sure you have food and fresh water can be challenging. Try to stock up on pet food at home before you hit the road. If you run out, stores like Walmart and Target have truck access or truck parking and carry quality brands of pet food. Most truck stops do carry a limited selection of dog and cat food, but keep in mind it might not be the brand your pet is used to or a healthy brand and could make your pet sick. You can buy cheap bottled water at a dollar store to ensure the water is safe for drinking and again won’t make your pet sick. Petco has a no spill bowl that keeps water from spilling in the truck.
  • Exercise - this will be good for you and your pet! Cats and other non-canine pets are tougher to exercise, but many pet shops like Petsmart and Petco have small stations in the store where pets can play. Truck stops and rest areas usually have designated pet areas for your pooch. Talk with your vet to know how much exercise your breed requires and exercise your pet while you are waiting for aload or unloading.
  • Exposure - be aware of the weather and check the conditions before you leave your pet in the truck. If you’re traveling all day with the heat or AC on, you may not realize how hot/cold it is when you leave your truck. The temperature inside a truck can skyrocket after just a few minutes. Parking in the shade or leaving the windows cracked does very little to alleviate this pressure cooker.   On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a truck with the windows cracked can reach 120 degrees, after just 30 minutes. At 110 degrees, pets are in danger of heatstroke. On hot and humid days, the temperature in a truck parked in direct sunlight can rise more than 30 degrees per minute, and can quickly become lethal. Check the weather and make sure not to leave your pet in the truck for too long. Remember - anti-idling laws around the country don’t make exceptions for pets!
  • Truck Stops - most truck stops and dealershipsallow petson the premises and have a driver’s lounge that is pet friendly. Call ahead to confirm. You should keep your pet on a leash at all times for their safety. They even make harnesses for cats that are inexpensive (under $10 at Petco) so you can walk them safely at the truck stop.
  • Properly Secure Your Pet - Driver distraction is the #1 cause of accidents.  Stats from recent AAA survey claim 52% of pet owners pet their dog while driving, 23% have used their hands or arms to hold their dog in place while applying brakes, and 19% have used their hands or arms to keep their dog from climbing into the front seat—creating a situation where they remove at least one hand from the steering wheel.  At only 35 mph, a 60 lb. pet becomes a 2,700 pound projectile.  Properly secure your pet with a travel kennel or crate, a pet seat belt (always use one with a harness to prevent strangulation), or pet car seat. has a great selection of crates and seat belts that are also comfortable for your pooch.*
  • Comfort - be sure to make your pet’s comfort a priority.  Just as it's important for your seat to be comfortable for your long trip, your pet's seat should be comfortable too. Typically a blanket on the seat or a travel bed next to your sleeper will do the trick. If you keep your dog in a kennel you can purchase a Petmate Portable Plastic Kennel Pads at Petsmart for under $30.

Drive Safe. You have precious cargo!
 * is offering Team Run Smart members 10% off their purchase of pet products. Use promo code TEAMRUNSMART at your next online checkout to receive this exclusive offer!

Comments (5)

Kim Salerno

Kim Salerno is the President & Founder of She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her popular web site features pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the US and Canada, along with other helpful pet travel resources. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy, and safe in their travels.

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My Puggle Sonny , Loves to ride along, and is a great traveller.Thanks for the great atrticle.

September 04, 2012 8:05:52 AM

Having a pet also helps with Stress.... When ever we would pet Molly or give her a hug the stress seemed to melt away. Walking back to the truck and seeing her watching for us always brought a smile.

August 02, 2012 16:44:06 PM

I have that no spill bowl and it works great. My dog never runs out of water becaue of that bowl and my floor stays dry even on the rough roads.

July 31, 2012 22:29:04 PM

I put my Golden in a seat belt/harness made for large dogs. It worked perfectly!

July 27, 2012 17:13:41 PM

Great article Kim, my dogs love to ride in the truck. Thanks for the great advise.

July 26, 2012 22:33:47 PM