As dogs and cats have moved from being merely pets to our four-legged children, family vacations have also changed. According to AAA more than half of the pet owners in the US take their dogs or cats with them when they travel.
If you are planning on including your furry family when you hit the road for your vacation, we have tips and info to make your adventure a smoother one filled with happy memories.
Anybody Say Road Trip????
Short Practice Trips – if you haven’t taken your dog in the car, don’t start with a trip across the country. Schedule several short fun trips to get them looking forward to jumping in the car and going with you. Most dogs take to it naturally, but best to find out any car sickness or bladder issues ahead of the big day.
Buckle Your Seat Belts – Remember when people didn’t have to wear seatbelts? Well, those days are long gone. So are the days when your dog didn’t need to be secured also. Pets jumping around the car are not only a big safety concern for the driver, but it is also a great way to get your animal injured in the event of an accident. You can ensure a safe trip by restraining your dog with a pet car seat, travel crate or pet barrier.
Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst – Of course, your dog has a collar with your home phone number (he does, doesn’t he?) Be sure to put a second tag with your hotel address, campground space or where ever you will be staying, as well as your cell phone.
When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go – You know your dogs’ habits, but he will be out of his normal routine. Just to make sure there are no uncomfortable moments or messes in the car, be sure and stop every couple of hours. The ability to get out and stretch your legs will help your dog as well as you. Even though your dog never gets more than 5 feet from you at home, be sure and put their leash on before they get out of the car. Better safe than sorry.
Hydrate – You may be able to go for hours and hours without a drink, but your dog will thank you for frequent refreshments. Especially if you are heading to sunny locales. All that excitement tends to make a tail-wagging boy or girl thirsty.
Don’t Leave Them In The Car – The temperature inside a car can reach dangerous levels faster than you can say “I will only be gone a minute”. On an 85 degree day, inside a car, it will reach 110 in under 10 minutes, even with the window cracked. Not only will it put your dog in peril, but it you may end up with a hefty fine and a broken window.
Flying with Kittie
If you are doing air travel, think carefully before bringing your pets along. Travel by airplane is very stressful for your dog or cat, especially if they are traveling in the cargo area. It is not recommended unless it is unavoidable.
Careful preparation, done well ahead of the planned travel day can increase the odds of a safe and comfortable trip. Contact the airline to learn about their policies and procedures. Be sure to fully comply so there are no last-minute surprises.
At least a week before departure, visit your vet and let them know your plans. You will want a clean bill of health and proof that they are up to date on all shots. Make sure they have received the correct flea, heartworm and tick repellant for the part of the country you will be traveling to. If you are going to be there for more than a week or two, be sure and take a copy of their medical records, especially any preexisting conditions. This will help any emergency vets (you hopefully don’t need to see) on your trip. If you are traveling out of the United States be sure you are fully compliant with that countries requirements.
Okay to Fly? If your pet is very young or very old, it is probably best to leave them at home, why risk the life of your friend for a vacation? Be advised that flat-faced dogs are prone to breathing problems and do not do well in the cargo hold. In fact, some airlines now ban certain breeds.
Ask Questions – Will your pet be checked baggage or travel in the cabin? Not only do you need to be fully aware and complaint about your airlines’ pet policies. You need to ask about their safety record when it comes to transporting their precious cargo. Even under heavy consumer watch, incidents of airlines losing pets, injuring or even having them die during the flight has increased in recent years. Don’t have your pet become one of the statistics.
May I See Your Papers? If you are traveling abroad, find out if a health certificate and what vaccinations are required and if your pet will need to go through quarantine. Follow this link for more animal import information.
Your Pet Wants Leg Room Just Like You – Make sure that the carrier you choose is not only compliant with the airline but provides as much space as possible for your pet to move around. Their stress level will be high enough without adding discomfort to the list.
ID Please – Pets have been known to get loose even under the strictest watch. This is one of the reasons pets get lost. Make sure your pet and carrier are securely tagged with up to date contact information.
Potty Time – As soon as you can to their loading time, take your dog for a walk – a long walk if possible. A tired dog is less stressful than one full of energy.
Smells of Home – Be sure and put a familiar blanket and a toy or two in the carrier with your pet. The comforting smells of home will help reduce stress.
Though traveling by car is far more advisable than a vacation by air when it comes to bringing your four-legged family members along, with proper preparation you should have a great trip.