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Though the holiday travel is (mostly) complete, this is a great time to think about how plan for safe travel with your pets.
January 2 is National Pet Travel Safety Awareness Day. There are websites dedicated to finding lodging, activities and more when traveling with a pet. To be fair, this article is mainly thinking in terms of dogs and cats, but it’s possible you have another pet that might do well traveling with you. Check with your destination and mode of travel before bringing any pet with you.
The airlines, with a few rules, allow many well-behaved pets on flights, whether in cargo or in a seat. There’s always car travel and camping that work well for many pets. Even boat or train travel is available in some instances. Whatever your desire, you can probably find it.
Things to consider before you go.
- It’s always good to do a trial run before embarking on a big trip. Go somewhere near home for an overnight to see how your pet(s) react. For instance:
- How are they being in the car for more than a 20-minute ride to the dog park? Cats are often more nervous about change. What do you have in place to make sure they don’t escape the car and run away because they don’t understand what’s going on. You might need to bring along some calming treats or pheromones. If your pet gets really nervous, then you might need to get a sitter and leave them home.
- Figure out where you might need to stop for potty and exercise breaks.
- Once you have arrived, are they comfortable being in new surroundings or do they have a hard time settling down.
- What will it be like spending the night in the hotel room or home? We took our corgis to a hotel once. At home they would crash and be done for the night. At the hotel, they got us up every hour or two, peeking their little heads over the edge of the bed. The first two times, I got up with them thinking they had to go potty. After that, I was clear they were just excited and wanted to play. In the future, we brought their beds and a baby gate so they could sleep in a closet or bathroom with the door open, so they knew we were still there.
- Depending on where you are traveling, there may be restrictions and rules for your pet to join you. When traveling by air, you may need a ticket for your pet and a recent health check for the airline. When traveling to other countries, you always need a very recent health check and may have to jump through other more onerous hoops to bring them with. Some countries require quarantine, so unless you are moving there, it may not be advisable to bring them at all.
- Other research.
- Check ahead of time to find out if there are restrictions on pets being in the area or lodging. I once visited a town where the city park had signs designating it a no-dog zone. I was flabbergasted? Where was I supposed to relieve my pets (yes, I pick up after them) and let them get a little exercise so we could easily sit on that restaurant patio for lunch? In another instance, I visited a National Park, only to find that I could admire everything from the parking lot since all National and many State Parks don’t allow dogs on the trails.
- Some lodging places cater to pets. One place I stayed with my dog gave us a gift basket that included a chew-toy, poop pick-up bags, and treats. It was a lovely surprise, which I might have known had I looked into it ahead of time.
- Find out about fees for staying with a pet. There’s often an extra cleaning fee and sometimes a refundable damage deposit.
- Learn whether there is a size limit. Some places don’t mind bigger dogs, while others want to limit the options to dogs under 35#.
- Plan activities on the trip that include your pet. It’s much more fun if the whole family can play together. That should be part of the point of bringing your pet with you.
All of these factors will help you make the decision about whether travel is right for your pet. That said, according to National Day’s Pet Travel Safety Day page, these are the five best tips for keeping your pet safe while traveling:
- Restraints are essential in cars: An unrestrained pet is like a living cell phone, distracting you as you drive; they are also in danger of getting hurt in case you break hard or get into an accident.
- Get a crate: These are the best when you want to transport animals anywhere while keeping them comfortable.
- All about food: Feeding pets during a journey is a choking hazard and might give them motion sickness; feed them a few hours before travel to prevent bloating and indigestion.
- Give them their comfort item: A toy or a blanket — whatever your pet takes comfort in should come along with you on your trip; it keeps them (and you) happy along the way.
- Ensure your pet can be identified: Give them an I.D. collar, microchip, or anything else that helps people identify their owner, just in case your pet gets lost on the trip.
Celebrate the relative ease of being able to bring your pet with you on vacation, as long as it’s easeful for them. Pikes Peak Vet works with owners who are traveling for work, pleasure or moving all the time. Call us to learn what you need to know for your travel destination and we’ll help you get the appointments and paperwork at the right time to accomplish a smooth transition. (719) 475-1747.