10 Ways to Make Traveling With a Pet Easy

  • Consider a Harness

    Harnesses are essential for any pet that will tolerate wearing one, though they are used primarily with dogs. According to the HSUS, it's the only other alternative (other than a carrier) to safely transport an animal in a car.

    Harnesses come in a wide range of sizes and can be adjusted to fit the chest and shoulders snugly of your pet, regardless of how large or small he is. Snoozer's Pet Safety Harness (shown here), which connects to the seat belt buckle in any car, is the only harness currently available that has been crash-tested.

    Using a harness allows your pet to be restrained safely without the possibility of choking by being restrained at the collar. Some harnesses utilize your car's seat belt and require your pet to be comfortable sitting on the car's seat. Other harnesses use the chest ring portion to connect to short leash, while the other end is hooked to a tie-down point in the cargo space of a wagon, minivan, SUV or pickup.

  • Keep Pets Properly Restrained

    Just like people, pets need to be restrained while in the car. Depending on what kind of pet you are traveling with, you'll need to use either a carrier or a harness to keep it properly restrained. A carrier should be used for cats and other small animals that cannot easily be harnessed. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to sit and lie down.

    The Humane Society of the United States, or HSUS, recommends selecting a carrier with smooth edges, opaque sides, a grille door and ventilation holes on four sides. Secure it in your car with the seat belt (through the handle or around it) or in the cargo area of an SUV or minivan. It is not safe to place a pet carrier inside a trunk because there is not enough air circulation and it can get dangerously hot very quickly on a warm day.

  • But I Can't See

    If your pet is one of those who likes to watch the passing scenery, a pet car seat is a terrific gadget for you. Designed for small to medium dogs, these pet car seats buckle to the center console between the front seats of larger vehicles or are buckled into a rear seat, similar to a child car seat. Used in conjunction with a harness, the dog is placed in the car seat and the harness is connected to the car seat to keep him secure.

    The seat provides added height so your pet can see out the window, while still being able to sit or lie down in a soft, cozy spot.

  • Pet Hair No More

    If your dog is prone to shedding, then taking him in the car can equal a giant mess of fur in the many crevices that can create a car-cleansing nightmare. To bring Fido along and contain the mess, use a seat cover or hammock like the one shown here in the space your dog will sit. These covers can be machine washed and the hammock-style design has the added bonus of preventing Fido from jumping into the front seat before you can get him harnessed up.

    View the next slide >

    Bankrate.com is the Web's leading aggregator of information on financial products including mortgages, credit cards, new and used automobile loans, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. Visit Bankrate.com to get the tools and information that can help you make the best financial decisions.

    You might also be interested in reading:

    15 Hypoallergenic Dogs and Cats

    Finding the Right Dog for You

    Who Will Take Care of Your Pets When You Can't?