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Michigan Drivers Traveling with Pets in the Car

Here's what you need to know...
  • Plan your trip carefully so that you can make use of pet-friendly stops, rest areas, attractions, and hotels
  • Keep your pet safe by using an approved, crash-proof crate or carrier
  • Check the fine print of your insurance plan to be sure that your pet is covered

Michigan is a great place for taking your vacation, and you may be considering taking your pets along with you. From the beaches to other destinations, there are places that will let you bring your dog. However, you’ll need to ensure that you’re fully prepared to make your road trip with pets safe and fun.

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Most Owners Don’t Consider Pet Safety

You love your girl and hate to leave her home, but you may not have put enough thought into her safety on the road.

Research shows that roughly 56 percent of people have traveled with a dog in the car recently, and roughly 30 percent of them admit to being distracted by the canine as a result.

Activities that they’ve engaged in that are distracting include:

  • Petting or playing with the dog
  • Reaching into the backseat for the dog
  • Actively restraining the dog
  • Holding the dog in their lap
  • Taking pictures of the pets

Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds can double your risk of being involved in an accident, and 20 percent of injury crashes involve distracted drivers.

Although dog restraints are readily available, roughly 84 percent of people who travel with pets have used the harnesses, crates, vehicle seats, or other barriers that are available.

How to Prepare a Pet for Traveling

If your dog will go with you on vacation, then take some time getting everything ready for him. You want your pet to be safe, and you also want to make sure that he won’t be a distraction.

– Safety Tips for Traveling with Your Pet

There are some easy steps you can take to keep your pet safe while in the car.

Before leaving, be sure to take your pet in for a checkup with the vet, and get copies of all records so that you’ll have them on hand in case of emergency. When putting your travel plans in place, remember to take the following steps with your dog:

  • Invest in an approved, crash-tested restraining system like a crate or harness
  • Keep your dog confined in a crate or with a harness to help avoid accidents on the road
  • Pick up portable water and food dishes so that your pet can easily drink something on the road
  • If your pet will be in a crate in the back of the car, then make sure that there is plenty of air flow so that your pet will be comfortable and safe
  • Never let your dog hang his head out the window to avoid injuries from flying debris

Check on your pet at every stop to ensure that he’s happy and traveling well.

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– What to Bring

You’ll want to pack carefully so that you’ll have everything your pet needs for this trip. In addition to the leash and collar that you always take on walks, you’ll also want to pack:

  • Food and bottled water for in the car
  • An extra leash and harness in case one breaks
  • Canine lifejacket if your trip includes water activities
  • Any medications along with veterinary records
  • A few of his favorite toys, including comfort chew toys or blankets for in the crate
  • Treats for positive reinforcement on the road
  • Poop bags
  • Enzymatic cleaners and paper towels
  • Brush, cleaning pads for the paws, and clean towel
  • Bright orange vest for when your dog will be walking with you through parking lots

– Plan Your Route

Traveling with pets is nothing like traveling with your children. While you can take your newborn into any restaurant and your teenager will always be welcomed at hotels, the same cannot be said of your pets. You’ll need to carefully plan your route, breaks, and meals.

Remember to:

  • Plan breaks at rest stations and other areas where you can get the dog out of the car for a nice walk
  • If traveling during the warmer months, plan picnic meals with your pet so that your dog will not be left alone in the car
  • Make reservations at hotels that will allow you to bring the dog in overnight
  • When taking a long winter drive, bring clean dry towels so that you can wipe off your dog’s paws after a rest stop. The salt on the ground can irritate her paws
  • Remember that your dog has a fur coat that cannot be removed and adjust the interior temperature of your car accordingly

Auto Insurance Laws and Requirements in Michigan


The state of Michigan operates under a no-fault system, so you’ll need to have personal injury protection in addition to the liability coverage. When it comes to covering your pet, you may need to read the fine print.

– How Pet Insurance Works

Pet injury coverage is generally found in the “collision coverage” section of your plan. You may find that your provider only covers dogs and cats. If you like to travel with your ferret, you may discover that he’s not covered against injury or death in the event of an accident.

Take note that most plans will not cover injuries to your pet if you cause the accident.

However, you should have protection for your pet if the accident was the other driver’s fault. This is also typically a limit on the amount that the insurance will cover for injuries to animals, and you can find those details in your policy.

– Unique Laws Pertaining to Animals in Michigan

Michigan has different laws in place to protect animals and the general public. If you own a wolf-dog cross, you should be aware that the state does not allow people to own certain hybrids.

Dog fighting is considered a felony, and dog owners are typically held liable in the event that their dog bites another person.

It’s also important to know that the Dog Law of 1919 protects livestock and poultry from harm caused by dogs. If you decide to stop, you’ll want to keep your pet on a sturdy leash so that you won’t have to worry about upsetting a farmer and finding yourself in trouble with the law.

Find the Right Insurance


Before you embark on your trip, take a closer look at your insurance to be sure that it suits your needs perfectly. If you’re not happy with your current pet coverage, then you may want to shop around.

You can use an online comparison tool to search for better rates while also looking at different pet plans. In the end, you may save a little money today so that you can have a better vacation tomorrow.

Before switching to a new provider, look at customer service reviews for the new company. While saving money is important, you also want to work with a team that will truly stand by your side in case of an accident. You can also save on your plan by asking for discounts or raising your deductible.

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