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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For a majority of pet owners, the holidays wouldn’t be joyous or festive without their pets by their side.

AAA Texas says there are some very easy steps pet owners can take to be ‘merry’ when traveling with four-legged friends on holiday road trips.

The first thing you should do is get your pet prepared for the trip. You should take the animal on a series of short drives first, and then gradually lengthening the amount of time spent in the car. It’s also best to keep your pets, and you, safe by having them travel in a well-ventilated carrier.

Having your pet running around the car and possibly distracting you is very dangerous. “Taking your attention away from the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of being involved in a crash,” said AAA Texas Representative Doug Shupe. “When traveling with your pet, drivers must concentrate on the road at all times and they should pull over and stop if they need to tend to a pet during a road trip.”

Tavelers should also pack their pet a suitcase. You should have water, food, a bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid supplies for your pet. Packing a favorite pillow or toy might almost make the ride more enjoyable for your pet.

AAA Texas also advises:

  • While taking a long road trip, pets should be confined to the backseat.
  • Drivers should stop every two hours to take a break from the wheel, and also get your pet some fresh air. If you’re travelling with a cat, it’s important to bring a litter box along for the ride.
  • To avoid car sickness, feed your pet a small meal at least four hours before hitting the road. Never try to give your animal food or water while you’re driving.
  • When driving, keep your pet safely inside the car with you. Dogs or cats who like to stick their heads out of the window can be injured by flying debris or get sick from having cold air forced into their lungs.
  • Don’t forget to leash your pet before opening the car door. Even well-trained pets could take off if they’re not used to traveling, or being in a strange place.

An estimated 46 million households own dogs and travel near and far with their pet by their side.

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