It’s that time of year when most people are preparing to travel to visit family and loved ones during the holidays. For many, that includes bringing their dog along for the ride.

Before you have your dog jump into the car, it’s important to make sure both you and he are prepared for the journey. With a little bit of preparation, you can help make sure your dog has an easy ride.

Safety first

First and foremost, safety is key. Seat belts aren’t just for you and your passengers, they’re for dogs too. If you are unable to crate your dog in the car (due to space, configuration, etc.) then it’s imperative that you make sure he’s safely strapped in. Many dog owners know the heart-dropping feeling of being forced to stop short and hearing their dog hit the seat behind them. Avoid that by purchasing dog-specific seatbelts.

These straps buckle into place like a normal seat belt but include a clip that attaches to your dog’s harness or collar (harness strongly recommended for car travel). This simple purchase can make all the difference in an unexpected scenario as well as bring you peace of mind.

Visit the Vet

Not all dogs are fans of the car. In fact, many dogs suffer from motion sickness and develop anxiety around travel. If your dog suffers from either of these, consult your vet before a road trip. They may be able to prescribe anti-nausea and anxiety medication for your dog to help ease these symptoms.

If your dog is still in distress during the car ride, consider making more frequent stops to give them moments of recovery.

Pre-plan some pit-stops

If you’re traveling a far distance, take a look at your route and see what areas are convenient to stop and allow your dog time to stretch his legs. We’ve all been on a road trip where we lose track of time and before we know it our legs are cramping and we need to use the restroom. That happens to your dog too! Stay one step ahead and plot out where you plan on taking some driving breaks. This will allow you to make the most of your time and stay on schedule for your desired arrival time at your destination.

Bring snacks

One of the best parts of any road trip is raiding the gas station for snacks for the drive. Well, your dog gets hungry too! For any long-distance travel be sure to pack any needed meals and treats for your dog. You can feed him during one of your stops and offer him water as well. Double-check that you have easy access to his food and water bowls in the car to make it easier.

Be flexible

No matter how thoroughly you plan, unexpected things happen. Remember when you stay calm, your dog likely will too. Pack some extra waste bags, leashes, blankets, and a first-aid kit for any emergency situations.