6 Holiday Pet Travel Tips to Ensure a Fun and Safe Adventure
The holidays are a fun and festive time when many people leave their homes to celebrate with family and friends. Increasingly, pet owners are bringing their cats and dogs with them when they travel because they consider their four-legged companions as part of the family.
During this holiday season, millions of Americans will travel to their destinations by car and approximately 37 percent will bring their pets with them, according to the American Pet Products Association. With the ever increasing availability of pet-friendly hotels and restaurants, traveling with dogs and cats is now easier and much more convenient than ever before.
What to do before the trip
The first step is to decide if bringing your dog and cat is in their best interest. Since pet owners usually take their pets on car trips to veterinary clinics or other places pets find stressful, some pets make negative associations with traveling in vehicles.
Before hitting the road, make sure your dog and cat enjoy riding in a vehicle. To help them acclimate, take them on a series of short trips of increasing length and give them a treat once the trip is over. Do this for a week or so before the holiday road trip. During and after each short trip, assess your pets’ behavior. Is the dog or cat calm? Does the dog or cat continue to exhibit signs of distress and discomfort?
If, after several trips and attempts at teaching your cat and dog to associate more positive things with travel, they still show signs of distress and discomfort, you should probably make arrangements to leave them with a friend or relative or hire a pet sitter.
No matter how well planned a trip is there is always a chance a pet might get out due to some unforeseen and unavoidable situation. Owners should ensure their dogs and cats are microchipped and are wearing a collar with an I.D. tag. Make sure vaccinations are up-to-date and microchip information is current, and bring copies of your pets’ vaccination records and veterinarians’ contact information.
6 Tips for Traveling With Your Pet
1. Keep cats and dogs safe and comfy in a travel crate, carrier or harness and buckle up. Any pets that ride in cars should be properly restrained in the back seat in a safe pet carrier or harness that can be buckled onto the seat for added safety. Travel crates not only keep cats and small dogs comfortable and secure, but they also prevent them from dangerously roaming around the car and escaping unexpectedly through an open car window or door. There are an assortment of pet carriers, harnesses and other safety equipment available through several pet equipment manufacturers.
2. Pack the essentials. Bring along your pet’s favorite and familiar objects, such as beds, blankets and toys. In addition, pack leashes, cat litter and a litterbox, treats, food, water, and pet bowls. Do not feed pets 3 to 4 hours before leaving to prevent upset stomachs and motion sickness.
3. Consult your cat and dog’s veterinarian prior to the trip. Contact your veterinarian to discuss administering medications or other motion sickness preventatives in the event your pet becomes sick.
4. Research veterinary clinics near your travel destination. Before leaving home, map out and create a list of reputable veterinary clinics and 24-hour hospitals en route and at your destination in the event of a medical emergency.
5. Make frequent stops. Take breaks every 2 hours. Leash pets and take them for bathroom breaks and give them time to stretch and explore their surroundings.
6. Download pet-friendly travel apps. There are several travel apps for pet-friendly lodging, restaurants, excursions, etc. Before leaving, research appropriate apps and book lodging in advance to ensure travel is as stress-free for your pet as possible.
Happy holidays and safe travels!