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Auto-Matic: What to Pack For Road Trips With Your Pet

Feb 27 2013 - 2:46pm

If your road trip copilot is your pet, it's important that he's comfortable and secure for the long haul. While you can hit the McDonald's drive-through, he's going to be more difficult to please (though no dog I know has ever turned down a french fry). We've rounded up our top picks to keep him happy, safe, and motion sickness-free when you hit the blacktop for your long weekend adventure.

Source: Flickr User wsilver [1]

A Cat Carrier

Since they are so inquisitive and agile, cats must be kept in a carrier while the car is moving for your safety and hers. This Click-and-Go carrier [2] ($77) snaps into a base to easily convert it to a secure car seat.

A Harness

If your pooch travels in the backseat, make sure he's latched in securely with a padded harness that attaches to the seat belt [3] ($37 to $50).

A Portable Water Bowl

Animals of all kinds (humans included) need to stay hydrated, and if your long weekend plans include long walks in addition to long car rides, providing your pet with a container for easy drinking is a nice touch. We like the Drinkwell Hydro-Go Canteen [4] ($25), which even features a bowl for food as well. And you simply mustn't forget . . .

Plenty of Water

Whether you bring a case of bottles or fill up your own reusable containers, stocking water in the car will keep you and your pet hydrated and happy!

Travel Food Container

This thermos-looking contraption is a travel container [5] ($20) that both stores your pet's food and provides bowls for food and water. Measure out the food ahead of time to ensure that it's enough to cover the duration of your trip.

A Kitty Litter Tray

Dogs don't embarrass easily with public potty displays, but cats are more discreet creatures. Bring along some disposable litter boxes [6] ($13 for 5) to give her some privacy during her toilettes. If creating extra waste isn't your cat's thing, try this waterproof portable litter tray [7] ($16) that can pop into the washing machine for easy clean up when she's done using it. (Don't forget the litter and a scoop, too!)

Poop Bags

If Kitty needs her litter, Poochie needs his poop scoops! Make sure you have enough dog waste clean-up bags [8] ($5 for 50) for the car ride and for the trip so you don't get lumped into the inconsiderate tourist contingent.

A Car Seat

Available in three sizes, this pet booster seat [9] ($140 to $190) accommodates pets up to 30 pounds and allows the little ones to watch the world go by their window. Just remember to still strap your pet to the seat belt with a harness. An added bonus: the pull-out drawer for convenient storage.

A Zip Line Tether

For larger dogs or pups who like more free rein, a zip-line tether [10] ($38 to $43) lets them check out what's happening on both sides of the car without checking in at the front.

A First Aid Kit

Boo boos happen, and whether it's Fido's nose poking into a hornet's nest or Fluffy rubbing up against a thorny bush, you'll want to have some tools and remedies on hand to patch them back up again. This first aid kit [11] ($20) contains 33 pieces for any medical issue — minor or severe — but make sure you also include your vet's contact information and the number for a nearby emergency hospital just in case.

A Cargo Ramp

For large dogs who need help getting in and out of an SUV's tailgate, try a sturdy ramp [12] ($130). This tri-fold version weighs just 20 pounds but can handle dogs up to 200 pounds with its non-skid surface and secure tether to your car.

A Seat Extender

Some cars can't easily accommodate a kennel in the backseat without a good deal of wobbling and instability. But inflate a seat extender [13] ($80) in the floor space, and suddenly the pet's crate can move full speed ahead. It's also great for larger dogs who lose their footing on a narrow backseat.


Riding in the car can be a stressful event for cats and dogs, so make sure you bring some nibbles to distract them when they are nervous and reward them when they are good! If your pet's a real snacker, bring tiny treats [14] or other healthy nuggets [15] to cut back on calorie intake.

Something Familiar

Whether it's a blanket, stuffed animal, or toy, bring one of your pet's favorite items to make him feel at home in the car and on the other end of your journey. He's about to embark on an exciting escapade, but sometimes even the most adventurous of pets need a little reminder of home.

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