Taking a pet along for the ride is something that many drivers are doing, and fortunately something that many companies allow! The companionship that a pet can provide to a driver makes the extra work and responsibility of pet ownership well worth it!
Dogs are awesome. They’re loving, sweet, and there’s not much a dog enjoys more than going along for a ride (besides a treat). This makes a dog an ideal candidate for being a pet on the road! The only downfall of having a dog ride along is the frequent bathroom breaks and the risk of getting separated at a stop or a dogrun. Here are a few tips for dog ownership on the road!
Bathing: This seems like it could be a challenge, but it’s really not so bad! There are PetSmart locations nationwide, and some truck stops even have a Dogomat! For those emergency situations when your pooch decides to roll in something that smells less than fantastic you can keep Wet Wipes or a few gallons of water on hand to keep the mess from making its way into your truck.
Health: One thing you may want to consider is that your pet may be effected by the lack of exercise on a daily basis. Be sure to walk them when you’re stopped, and run them when you can – you’ll both be glad you did. There are also risks associated with exposing your dog to areas that other dogs are frequenting – like Parvovirus. The disease is transmitted by oral contact with infected feces – and can actually be fatal. Symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea (containing blood or mucus), depression, and a high fever. Typically puppies aged 6-20 weeks are most often affected, but the disease can be transmitted to a dog of any age. Keep an eye out for the symptoms, and seek attention from a veterinarian if you suspect that the disease has been contracted.
Use A Leash: Save the off-leash activities for home time or when you’re actually at a fenced in dog run. Otherwise, you run the risk of your trusty companion getting too excited and running off in a dangerous location – like a truck stop next to an interstate.
Tax Write-Offs: In some cases, drivers with dogs over 35 pounds have been known to write off their pets as truck security. This enables you to write off things like food, vet expenses, etc. Speak with a tax professional about it, if you’ve got a large breed dog – it might be worth looking into!
Water: Be sure to leave water out and available for your pet at all times. One cheap way to avoid a big mess is to place the bowls on a tray so that any spilled water is contained, and not free to flow!
Be Prepared: Keep in mind that pet food is significantly more expensive at truck stops. Pilot carries a 4lb bag of Purina® Dog Chow for $6.99 (before tax) whereas Walmart carries the same bag for $4.97 (before tax). That’s a $2.02 difference! A little planning ahead so that you won’t have to purchase dog food when you fuel up will save you money in the long run!
Trial Run: If you love the idea of having a dog on the road with you, but you’re not sure if you’re ready to commit to it. Operation Roger: Truckers Pet Transport is a great way to see if you’re ready, and if now is the right time for you! This organization helps needy pets connect with their forever homes through volunteer truck drivers that pick up and drop off the furry hitchhikers! This is a great way to do some good, and also seek some temporary companionship – as well as some in-cab pet owning experience!
Cats can make great road pets too! They’re a little lower maintenance than dogs – because litter boxes enable you to stop less, but cats can also be a little skittish at first when they’re getting acclimated to the cab. My cat does not dig riding in the car to his annual vet appointment AT ALL – he hides and gets really angry, so you may want to consider that when you decide what kind of cat you’re planning on bringing aboard.
Start Young: Many drivers with cats mention that they’ve had success starting with a kitten in the cab. Most cats pretty well understand the concept of a litter box – so that’s a non-issue. If a kitten can learn at an early age the sounds and movements of a truck, they’ll more than likely be able to adjust after taking a little time to get used to things. An older cat on the other hand, might be a little more distressed if it’s never experienced life in motion.
Leash Train: A cat on a leash isn’t something you see everyday – but if you leash train your little kitty from the beginning, a little walk great way to exercise your cat after a few days of being cooped up! This is something many drivers with cats have done, and have had success with!
Get A Litter Box With A Lid: This doesn’t warrant much of an explanation, but it’s something you may not have thought about, and not a lesson you want to learn the hard way.
Handheld Vacuum: Get one, because you’re going to need it. Between the kitty litter trails and the hair that cats tend to leave on everything they come in contact with – a handheld vacuum is bound to be a solid investment.
Buy Food Ahead Of Time: Pilot doesn’t carry dry cat food at all – only canned (and it’s a little bit more expensive than other places). Keep that in mind, and be sure to take enough cat food out on the road with you!
Do you have a furry companion that travels with you on the road, or are you thinking about getting one? We’d love to see pictures and hear your success stories, comments, or questions!