Moosh - dog in car window

An emotional support animal, or ESA, is just like any other pet. They love to travel with their owners! However, you can’t just throw your furry friend in the car and hope for the best. There are several safety measures that you need to take before embarking on a road trip with your ESA. Like any other passenger, you need to make sure that they’re as safe as possible in the event of an accident or collision. Failure to do so could have awful consequences for both you and your emotional support animal.

Emotional support animals are animals who live with their owners, like pets, but who actively contribute to assisting their owners in living with and managing emotional and psychological conditions. These can include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Emotional support animals offer their owners therapeutic support that can help them in managing their conditions and living their best possible lives.

Moosh - small dog in car
It’s important to make sure your emotional support animal is safe and secure every time they travel by car.

The first thing to do when making sure that you drive safely with your ESA is to check your local laws regarding animals in a moving vehicle. Usually, laws state that animals must be properly and comfortably restrained and secured, but some states have specific laws relating to specific animals, so it’s important that you’re educated before hitting the road with your emotional support animal. It’s also important to do this so you’re legally covered if you get stopped by a law enforcement officer. Having an animal improperly secured could also affect any insurance claim that you might need to make after an accident, so it’s very important to follow the letter of the law.

Much as you’d like to, you can’t carry your emotional support animal in your lap, especially if you’re driving. Luckily, there are lots of great options available that will ensure that your furry friend is secure, safe, and comfortable while in the car with you. You can buy special restraints, which clip onto seatbelts and give your furry friend the opportunity to sit up while being safe. If this isn’t an option, there are carry cases and cages that can be fitted into your car which will safely carry your emotional support animal. They can also be made very cozy and comfortable with bedding, cushions, and other creature comforts.

The issue of travel sickness should also be considered. Many cats and dogs become nauseated while traveling in a car but luckily, there are remedies for this. It is recommended that you speak to your vet, who should be able to recommend some kind of an anti-travel-sickness tablet so that your emotional support animal is comfortable while traveling in the car. Also, remember that sitting in a car for hours and hours at a time isn’t comfortable for humans, so it definitely isn’t comfortable for animals either! Bring a supply of food and water for your emotional support animal and make sure that you take regular breaks so that they can relieve themselves. This means that they’ll be more comfortable and you won’t get stuck cleaning up a mess in the back of your car!

Moosh - dog in back of car
If you take all the right precautions, your furry friend might even end up considering car rides a fun adventure!

While there is no legal obligation to prove that you have an emotional support animal, it’s always good to travel with your emotional support animal letter, just in case. If you don’t have one, they’re definitely worth getting as this simple document upgrades your pet to an emotional support animal and affords them, and you, the relevant legal protections. You are not required to show anyone your ESA letter, but it’s a useful document to travel with in case anyone questions why you might be traveling long distances with an animal.

The good news is that it’s very easy to get an emotional support animal letter. If you’re self-conscious about visiting your everyday doctor, there are services online that are specialized in helping people access emotional support animal therapy and are committed to helping patients who really need it. You simply need to log on and chat to a qualified medical professional via the camera function on your phone or laptop. They’ll ask you some questions about your condition and your ESA and, if they deem you suitable for treatment, will provide you with an ESA letter which is stamped, dated, and signed. What could be easier?

Now that you have everyone dosed up on their anti-nausea medication and safely strapped in for travel, it’s time to hit the road! Animals do become more used to traveling in a car with time, so even if your furry friend seems anxious, they’ll be fine as long as they are safe and given all that they need to be happy and healthy. Now, the only thing left to do is pick the road trip playlist!

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