With fall just around the corner, many pet parents are enjoying the last few weeks of summer with family road trips that include their furry friends. PetSmart, the largest pet specialty retailer, offers pet parents tips on how to make traveling with pets safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

“Traveling with your pets doesn’t have to be stressful if you do a little preparation and planning beforehand,” said Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert. “Preparing for the journey is just as important as knowing what pet-friendly amenities and accommodations are available at your destination. Be sure to pack plenty of food, water and a few familiar objects like their bed, blanket or toys. I also recommend pet parents take their pet to the vet prior to the trip to ensure their pet is up for travel.”

Avoid swimming in small lakes or ponds. Blue-green algae, which can form blooms that can discolor the water a blue-green appearance, is a concern during the summer months because it produces potent toxins that can sicken or kill people and pets. Be aware of warning signs such as diarrhea or vomiting, weakness or staggering, drooling, difficulty breathing and convulsions or seizures. Keep your eye out for symptoms and if your pet does swim in a lake or pond, be sure to thoroughly rinse them off afterward.

Purchase a dog safety harness. Dog safety harnesses are designed to help keep your pet in place should you come to an abrupt stop. Most harnesses clip into the car’s seatbelt system so it’s easy to use.

Protect your seats. Perfect for long road trips, a car bench seat cover lets your pet stretch and relax for a comfortable ride while keeping your car clean. Choose a waterproof fabric for extra protection.

Consider a dog booster seat. Booster seats are great options for the smaller pets who want to look out the window. Doggie booster seats clip onto the seatbelt and harness your pet.

Invest in pet insurance. It is always a smart choice to invest in pet insurance and make sure your pet stays safe. There are many new companies, like Bivvy insurance, that offer amazing deals to their customers.

Bring a hard-sided carrier. Held in place with a seatbelt, a sturdy hard-sided carrier can help keep your dog from roaming around your vehicle while you drive. “Pets that are traveling in a cage or hard-sided carrier should have enough room inside to stand up, lie down and turn around,” said Freeman.

Keep them hydrated. Ideal for dogs on the go, collapsible bowls expand into food and water cups that latch onto your dog’s leash. A quick-release clip attaches to leashes, belt loops, purses, strollers and more, making it perfect for traveling.

Pack a Pet First Aid Kit. Having a first aid kit on hand for your furry friend is a great way to give yourself peace of mind during hectic travel.

Keep them calm. Ask your vet about options if your dog gets car sickness or has anxiety about travel. Prescription and over the counter calming products can be helpful to make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.

Prevention is key. Be sure to prepare for where you’re going, especially concerning fleas/ticks and heartworm prevention.

Microchip them for peace of mind. Consider getting your pet microchipped and registered in addition to outfitting them with a collar with correct contact information listed in the event pets plan their own escape excursion. Always keep pets leashed when stopping at gas stations and rest areas.

For more travel products and resources, visit www.petsmart.com.