Traveling with a pet presents special challenges. Some helpful tips to assist with the preparation can make the trip less complicated. Some pets travel better than others, but all pets can have a comfortable traveling experience when plans are laid out in advance of the trip.
Talk To Your Veterinarian
Some pets suffer from motion sickness while riding in a car. It's a good idea to ask your veterinarian about medication in the event your pet is uncomfortable. Discuss the frequency and strength of the dosage. Ask about other health care issues that might arise while traveling. Be sure all shots are up to date. It's always a good idea to have a copy of your pet's medical records, including documentation of shots, in case of an emergency. Ask your veterinarian about identification chips. Amazing stories about pets found and returned to their families are becoming common due to this technology. If you choose not to use the chip for identification be sure you have a tag ID on your pet with all necessary information.
People don't hesitate to put on their seat belts and make sure children and other passengers are buckled up, but far too often pets are allowed to move freely between the front and back seats. AAA states that "unrestrained pets cause more than 30,000 accidents annually." A sudden stop places a pet at risk for injury. A loose pet can also exit the vehicle when a door is opened. They move much faster than people. Unfortunately, a great number of family pets are lost this way. Don't take chances. Safety harnesses are available for dogs of all sizes and pet carriers work well with cats. Make sure carriers are secured with a seat belt. Pet restraints make traveling safer for everyone in the vehicle.
When it's necessary to leave your pet alone in your vehicle, be sure to open a window on each side of the vehicle to allow cross-ventilation. Never leave your pet for more than a short time and be sure to leave sufficient water. Under no circumstances should a pet be left alone in a vehicle during hot weather.
Pets need exercise. Riding in a car all day is as tiring for pets as it is for their family. Most rest stops offer pet exercise areas. Playing and walking your pet will reduce the amount of travel-related stress they experience. Carry a scoop and some disposable bags to clean up after your dog when necessary.
Quarters are cramped when traveling in a car. When snacking, be sure no food scraps are on the seats or floor. Discard immediately as some foods are toxic to pets. Some snacks people enjoy, such as raisins, are very toxic to dogs. Raisins and grapes can cause renal failure. Chocolate can cause irregular heartbeats, seizures, vomiting, coma, and death. Mushrooms bring on liver failure, seizures, kidney failure, and heart damage. These are just a few of the foods that are dangerous to your pets. Get a complete list of toxic foods from your veterinarian.
You're Pet's Comfort
Be sure to bring enough of your pet's favorite food on your trip. Bagged food will generate less trash. Anxiety and motion sickness can cause a stomach upset, causing some experts to feel two small meals a day cause less stress on a pet's stomach than one large one. You get thirsty when traveling and so does your pet. Make sure water is within your pet's reach. Since water varies from one municipality to another, take a couple of gallons of bottled water. It is chemical and additive free and easily replaced as you travel. This will prevent unwanted bouts of diarrhea which can occur when there are abrupt dietary changes.
Toys, a favorite blanket, and some yummy treats will ease any stress your pet may experience while traveling. Consider your pet's hearing when playing the radio. Your pet requires just as much love and attention while traveling, as it does at home.
You have a first aid kit for your family, and it's also important to have one for your pet. You can easily assemble a kit with the necessary emergency supplies. A large plastic container with a tight-fitting lid will work perfectly. On the inside of the lid, tape your veterinarian's phone number, poison control center phone number, and your pet's record of shots. In the kit place cotton swabs, cotton balls, eyewash solution, scissors, tweezers, gauze pads, bandage rolls, triple antibiotic ointment, and sterile saline. It's also helpful to include towels, paper towels, disposable gloves, and gentle liquid soap.
There are many accommodations that accept travelers with pets. Be sure to read the fine print before you make reservations. Some motels and hotels charge exorbitant pet fees. Check petswelcome.com for a list of pet-friendly accommodations. Crate your pet at night to avoid unwanted accidents on the motel carpet. Thoughtful and courteous pet-owners make traveling easier for all pet-owners.
As you plan your vacation trip, remember, making special plans to accommodate the needs of your pet while traveling will result in a great trip for the whole family. You won’t be worried about leaving your pet with friends or at a kennel, and your pet will be in all the family photos.