Being on the road for days and weeks at a time can become quite lonely. That's why many owner-operators choose to have a co-pilot, and not of the human variety. There are many benefits to having a 'truck pet' both for you and your pet. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trucking with animal companions.
1. Stock up on food and water. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to have enough food and bottled water for your pet when you're traveling. If you'll be gone for long periods of time, it may be hard to find stores that carry quality pet food while on the road. Not to mention some of the better pet stores may not have the best truck access. If you can afford it, try to purchase several bags of a higher-end pet food without fillers. The best option is all-organic food. For dogs with allergies or a sensitive stomach, try a grain-free formula. This will ensure that your pets stay healthy, happy, and comfortable both at home and in the truck.
2. Schedule regular vet visits and consider pet insurance. Trucking is a hazardous profession and trucking with pets could put them at risk of an injury from an accident. Consider purchasing pet insurance so that your bank account isn't completely drained from an emergency veterinary visit. A couple of the top-rated pet insurance companies are Healthy Paws and Petplan. Your veterinarian will also be able to recommend an insurance plan that is best for your pet. Aside from pet insurance, don't forget to have your pet examined by the vet once a year. Since truck pets travel all over the country, check with your vet to make sure your pets have all of the medications and vaccinations they need for different climates and regions. Keep your pet's medical records and vaccination history with you at all times in case an unexpected trip to the vet is needed.
3. Keep your pets safe and comfortable. You would never let your child ride in a truck without a car seat or seatbelt so why let a pet ride unrestrained? Even if you never get into an accident, simply slamming on the brakes could seriously injure a pet. There are a number of different options for keeping pets safely restrained in their seat while traveling. Whether it's a kennel or a harness that attaches to a seat belt, research the options available for your pet before taking him on the road. When your truck is not moving, make sure your pet has a soft, warm place to sleep. A kennel or pet bed with soft towels and blankets is a perfect spot for a dog or cat to sleep. If you have a small animal, you may want to consider purchasing a sweater or coat to keep them warm on cold winter nights. Always take your pets with you when you are away from your truck for extended periods of time. A truck that's not running is susceptible to getting much too hot in the summer and way too cold in the winter for your four-legged furry friends. Are you a smoker? Now is the time to quit. If you have a pet in your truck with you, the second-hand smoke can put their health in jeopardy. Think of the life of your beloved pet and use it as motivation to quit smoking.
4. Let your pets out of the truck frequently. Being cooped up in a truck for many hours at a time can make your pets restless. Make sure you give them enough breaks during the day for potty time, playing, and exercise. If you have a cat, get a scratching board, and for all pets, make sure they have a few toys they can play with while you're driving. Purchase a sturdy, comfortable harness and leash, and take your pets for walks and play time outside of the truck a few times a day. Not only will this help get your pet's energy out, it's also good for you! Oh and one more thing - don't forget to clean up after your pet on your breaks. No one likes to step on an unexpected surprise at the truck stop!
5. Keep track of your dog's expenses. Do you have a truck dog that is on the road with you 100% of the time? Does your dog bark and alert you if someone is coming near the truck? If you answered yes to these questions, your dog's expenses may be tax deductible. Check with your ATBS Business Consultant for more information, and hold on to all of your dog-related receipts so the deductions can be applied at the end of the year.
Having a pet as your trucking companion comes with many rewards, but also great responsibility. Ensuring that your pet is well cared for will result in many years of happy travels together.