It’s the time of year for visiting friends and family, and many of us will be bringing our pets with us for the trip. But traveling with pets, whether by car or by plane, requires some careful planning in order to keep them, and ourselves, safe and happy. Here are some tips to make your travel plans go smoothly.
The first step before going on a trip is to make sure your pets are ready:
1. Make your pets easily identifiable. This includes:
Sturdy collar and ID tag with your name and contact information.
Possibly a permanent form of ID, such as a microchip
A recent photo of your pet
When your pets are in a new environment, they may run off and not be able to find their way back. While hopefully you don’t lose him or her in the first place, making sure that you’ve taken these precautions can prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.
2. Get your pet used to long car trips. If the longest trip your pet has ever taken in the car is to the vet, now is not the time to do an 8-hour trip in the car. Make sure that your pet is ready for the extended drive by gradually building up to longer trips first.
3. Check in with your vet. Make sure you have documentation on your pet’s medical history. If traveling by air, health certifications and vaccination records are required. Plus, if traveling somewhere exotic, your vet may want to administer additional vaccinations.
Next, make sure that you are ready for the trip and have the proper supplies:
1. Stock up on pet food and treats. Different stores may stock different food, and the stress of traveling is no time to switch up your pet’s diet! Bring your pet’s food with you or check that a local store carries your pet’s favorite grub.
2. Find a sturdy carrier. Whether traveling by car or plane, a good crate is a must. Make sure it has the following features:
3. Research the area.
When visiting family or friends, check if they have a fenced backyard, any allergies, or if there will be other pets or small children. Also, always ask before bringing a pet. If someone has severe allergies or a new baby, they may be uncomfortable with your pet being in their home.
When staying in a hotel, make sure it is a pet friendly hotel and that you know all of the rules. Find a local dog park or walking trails to exercise your pet, if needed.
If traveling to a new climate, check if there are any new plants that are poisonous to your pet.
It’s time to travel! Now that you and your pet are prepared for the trip, all that’s left is to get there. These tips will help make your trip smooth and safe:
1. Keep your pet out of the front seat. In case of an accident, airbag deployment can injure your pet. So while it is recommended that you keep your pet in a carrier while traveling by car, at the very least, do not let your pet in the front seat.
2. Take frequent stops. Use highway rest stops to give your pet some fresh air and exercise. Do not leave your pet unattended in a car.
3. When flying, try to take your pet in the cabin with you. Some airlines permit small cats and dogs in the cabin with you. If that is not possible, watch for safe handling by airport personnel and don’t be afraid to speak up if you see something inappropriate.
4. Your pet should travel on an empty stomach. Whether by plane or car, try to not feed your pet right before traveling to reduce nausea. If the car trip is long, feed your pet small amounts during stops, never in a moving vehicle.
Remember, pets, especially cats, are usually happier and more comfortable at home. You can find a regular dog walker or pet sitter (like us!) to take care of your pet and provide companionship during your trip. But if you must travel with your furry friend, follow these guidelines to make the trip smooth and comfortable for everybody.
Happy holidays, and safe traveling!