Tips for Trucking With Your Pets
Find A Pet-Friendly Trucking Company
Nearly every trucking company that allows pets will have a different set of policies for it, some more restrictive and specific than others. You can find a list of companies that allow pets, along with their specific policy, if available, here: List Of Trucking Companies That Allow Pets
Keep Expectations Realistic
With few exceptions, trucking companies are going to place restrictions on the type, number, and size of pets that they allow drivers to take on the road in their trucks, though a few companies advertise "anything goes".
Be prepared for emergencies. Aside from preparing for unexpected expenses, know the locations of possible emergency care facilities. PetSmart offers veterinary services in many of their stores through Banfield Pet Hospital.
Keep Your Pet Safe On The Road
Most companies will require you to provide, and keep with you, current health and vaccination records for your pet. Additionally, most states will also specifically require having proof of up-to-date rabies vaccinations.
Preventative medication for heart-worm and other parasites is highly recommended any time you take your pet on an interstate trip.
Any time your pet leaves the truck when away from home, it should be on a leash or restraint of some sort. Especially when pets get more used to the sights and sounds of the road, they may be more inclined to explore, or bolt.
Make sure they are wearing a collar with the necessary information on the tags, specifically rabies and owner contact tags. Get your pet micro-chipped to make them easier to track down, in case you get separated.
Trucking With Cats
Cats can provide truck drivers the companionship of a loving pet, without all of the extra stops. Taking a cat on the road presents a different set of responsibilities for most drivers, especially regarding the litter box and odors in the confined spaces of the cab.
Be prepared to clean the litter box frequently. Scented bags made specifically for pet waste should be on your list of items to take, if you have a cat along.
Make sure your cat actually likes to ride in vehicles. Some cats, being cats, are adamantly opposed to it, and drivers should know their animals and know if they can handle riding along.
Bring a good quality scratching post. Trust us.
Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI)
aka Health Certificate: Essentially "traveling papers" for your pet. In an effort to prevent the spread of disease among animals (pets, livestock, and otherwise), many states require anyone transporting animals across state lines to get a signed CVI, issued by a USDA-accredited veterinarian, attesting that the animal is not a health risk or otherwise carrying diseases.
The CVI, or Health Certificate, should be issued from the state of origin, within the last 30 days. Some states allow for "just-passing-through" exemptions, and some do not. Most will require drivers to have updated, physical vaccination records, especially rabies.
One copy each of the CVI will be given to the pet owner, veterinarian, and state.
In most cases, entry into Canada will not require any additional documentation for the drivers pet.
Pet-proof And Prepare Your Truck
Block off access to the driver area, especially the pedals.
Keep chewables, food, trash, medicine, etc., out of reach of your pet.
Make sure they have their own space in the truck, and can ride safely.
In the case of an animal that uses a litter box, additional ventilation considerations may be necessary, like fans, etc.
Pets, Truck Stops, and Customers
If your company allows pets, typically it will be taken into consideration when it comes to the customers they service. Some customers will not allow animals on premises, or will require them to be restrained in a specific way inside the truck.
There will generally not be restrictions on whether you can have a dog on truck stop property, but there will certainly be some that are more accommodating than others. Most will have at least some grassy area to walk your dog on. Stopping at highway rest areas, instead, will also help keep your pet from having to trudge through dirty, oil-soaked parking lots.
The bigger the dog, the more exercise they will need, generally. Plan your trip to accommodate your pet.
Clean up after your pet. Don't be "That Guy."
Items To Bring When Trucking With Pets
Specific items that can help make life more enjoyable and safe for both driver and pet:
Pet crate - even if your pet is not normally crated, there are going to be times on the road when it is necessary.
List of vets and supply centers - especially if a driver generally runs the same routes. Plan ahead and research local veterinary services, and stores that you can replenish your pets supplies, if needed.
Plenty of extra water - animals are notorious for needing drinking water.
Extra cleaning supplies - accidents happen. Also bring a variety of your favorite air fresheners.
Necessary paperwork - vaccination records, and CVI, especially. Most states and companies will require at least proof of rabies vaccination and tags.
Leashes, collars, and other restraints.
Food and treats - obvious, but make sure you have enough to last a few weeks, including emergencies (weather delays, breakdowns, etc).
Cat people - be prepared to clean out the litter box every couple of days. Bring enough scoopable litter, a scoop with which to scoop with, and scented, plastic bags.
What New Drivers Need To Know About Trucking With Pets:
The FMCSA does not expressly address the issue of truck drivers who travel with pets, as long as safe driving is not compromised.
Expect that pet-friendly trucking companies will require pet deposits, fees, or other pay adjustments to cover any cleaning or repair costs to their trucks.
Be prepared for restrictions on where your pet is and is not allowed. Do plenty of research as part of your trip-planning, if necessary.
Typically, most pet-friendly companies will allow only dogs, with some exceptions for cats or other pets. The more exotic animals like snakes and rats may not be hardy or adaptable enough for long trips, and are generally prohibited, or at least discouraged.
Many states require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), or Health Certificate, in order to bring animals into or through that state. Expect to have to keep proof of current rabies vaccinations, at the very least.