Summertime Travel With (or without) Your Pet

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It’s that time of year ~ summer vacation is nearing an end and you and your family want to get in a last minute vacation.  If your family includes a pet, special planning and preparation are vital. You must consider whether or not your pet is comfortable traveling, or whether he’d be better suited staying at home, in familiar surroundings, with a sitter. Will you be traveling by car or airplane? Will you be staying in pet-friendly hotels? There is much to consider, so we’ve put together a few general tips that should make your travel planning a little bit simpler.

Traveling by Plane

Deciding whether or not to take Fluffy or Fido on a plane can be a stressful decision for many pet parents. While many airlines allow small breed dogs and cats to travel in the cabin under the seat (in a specially designed pet carrier, of course), larger pets must travel in the cargo hold. Consider your pet’s comfort when deciding whether he or she is fit to fly.

Before making any flight reservations, check with the airline in advance to inquire about their current regulations, as they vary from airline to airline and can change regularly. And, ask if they require a health certificate for your pet, as some airlines will not allow your pet to fly without one. Always try to reserve nonstop flights, avoiding plane changes when possible, in order to make the experience as stress-free for your pet as possible. Also, in the warm summer weather, try to book early morning or late evening flights to lower the chances of your pet becoming overheated. And, take into consideration the fact that short-nosed breeds like Pugs and Persians may have greater difficulty with air travel. Be sure to properly exercise your pet prior to boarding.

Traveling by Car 

Decided to travel by car? If your pet is not used to car travel, take him for several short car rides prior to your trip departure to allow him the opportunity to get accustom to the experience and to feel secure. If traveling with a cat, always keep her confined in a carrier to prevent the opportunity for her to crawl under your feet while driving. For Fido, don’t allow him to ride in the driver’s lap or in the passenger seat, especially if equipped with airbags. The safest way for your pooch to travel is with a seatbelt harness in the rear seat. Also, don’t allow Fido to ride with his head out the window as dirt and other debris can enter his ears, eyes and nose and cause possible injury.

Stick to your regular feeding routine and give the main meal at the end of the day or when you reach your destination. Feeding dry food will be more convenient, if your pet is accepting of it. If you do opt to stick with canned food, be sure to dispose of any unused food unless it can be refrigerated right away or kept in a cooler on ice. And be sure to take along ample supplies of water. While on the road, plan to stop every two – three hours for exercise and potty breaks and, at each stop, provide your pet with small portions of food and water. If you discover before your leave for your trip that your pet suffers with car sickness, consult with your vet as he can prescribe medication that will help your kitty or pup feel more comfortable while in the car.

Overnight Stays

Of course, during your vacation there will be multiple nights of staying in either a hotel, campground or the home of a friend or family member. Ensure your pet is welcome wherever you may go and consider bringing a portable crate along if you aren’t comfortable leaving your pet out loose when no one is around. If in a hotel, place the “do not disturb” sign on the door to eliminate the possibility of your pet escaping should hotel personnel enter your room.

Travel Safety Tips

  1. Ensure your pet is properly identified with a tag or microchip.
  2. Groom your pet before leaving on your trip.
  3. Have your pet’s favorite food, treats and toys on hand to keep him more comfortable.
  4. Be sure to carry your pet’s proof of rabies vaccination and current health certificate just in case it is needed along the way.
  5. Keep a recent photo of your pet on hand in the unfortunate event your pet becomes lost during your travels.

Preparation is Key

Planning and preparation are necessary when traveling with pets. Consider whether your pet is comfortable when traveling and, if she is not, make other arrangements for her care. Just like humans, some pets are more comfortable in their own home and function much better in their own familiar surroundings. And, just like humans, some pets simply can’t withstand the stress of travel due to injury, their temperament and/or illness. Be considerate of your pet’s feelings, and how their traveling with you can impact you, your family, and your vacation.

If you determine your pet is best left at home, consider hiring a reliable, professional pet sitter from Happy Tails.   You will be able to rest assured knowing your pet is being loved and cared for in the manner in which she is accustomed.

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