The holidays are upon us and with that some of the busiest travel times of the year.
Whether or not you include your pets when you travel, it is a good idea to plan ahead. Here are a few travel planning tips for owners that want to take their pet(s) along for the ride:
Traveling by plane is not the best option for most pets. However, if it is the only option for you, then you should make some plans to make travel easier. Always book a direct flight if at all possible. This will prevent your pet from dealing with the possible weather elements while in transit from one flight to the next. Contact your airline and find out the requirements for travel with your pet ahead of time. You will need to know what paperwork is necessary for them to travel and what you need when you arrive at your destination. Most airlines require proof of vaccines and a health certificate from your veterinarian stating that the pet is healthy enough for airline travel. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure your pet is up to date on the proper vaccines and that you have the proper documents ready for your travel time frame. Some destinations have strict rules about rabies vaccines and quarantine times. Make sure you give yourself and your veterinarian plenty of time to get everything you need ready in time for your travel. Find out the details about how the airline handles your pet during travel. They may have specific recommendations for crate size/contents. If your pet is easily stressed during travel or has specific health care needs, it may not be your best option.
Traveling by car may be a better option for most pets, but you should still try to make travel as safe as possible. Pets should be kept in a proper crate or carrier or use a pet harness and seat belt. This will keep the pet from moving around and distracting the driver. Find pet friendly areas that you can stop at along the way to allow them to get take a walk if necessary and get a drink. Car rides can still be stressful for some pets, so practice trips ahead of the actual travel date are a good idea. They can be short trips just to get them used to the sights/sounds and their carrier/harness. For cats, make their carriers a happy place before travel. Start leaving the carrier out at home, propped open and full of some of their favorite things. Get them used to being in it for short periods of time without taking them outside of your home, and then gradually take them out for short trips. It will make the long trip a little less stressful if they are used to their surroundings ahead of time. If your pet gets car sick easily or has high anxiety when traveling, schedule an appointment to talk with your veterinarian to discuss the safest options for your pet. Maybe a medication can be prescribed to help with their specific problem.
No matter how you travel, you may consider a few other things when planning your trip. Is your pet microchipped or does it have some form of identification on their collar? It is a good idea to have a way to identify your pet should they get loose during travel. Do you know where your pet will stay when you get to your destination? If you are staying with family, make sure the pet is welcome and will have a place to stay that is safe. If you are staying in a hotel, make sure it is pet friendly before you get there. Ask about pet friendly parks or areas nearby to ensure a close place to walk your dog.
Do you have an emergency plan? Make sure you are aware of veterinary clinic options where you are traveling should an emergency arise. Knowing where you can call and where you can take your pet, will help calm some stress should an injury or sickness occur while you are there.
Travel can be stressful no matter what, but hopefully, with some planning it can be a much smoother process.