Here are the Top Pet Travel Tips for taking a trip that is enjoyable for both you and your pets.
Start your trip with a healthy pet.
Check in with your veterinarian at least one week before you begin your trip to be sure your pet is healthy and all vaccinations are current.
Pack the paperwork.
Be sure to have a current health certificate, license and proof of all vaccinations. Bring along your vet’s phone number-it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to call your vet with a non-emergency concern than to try to find a local vet who doesn’t know your pet. You can easily add your vet to your phone’s contact list. Honestly, my vet’s number is ingrained in my brain.
Wear identification at all times.
Your pet’s I.D. tags should include your name, address, and phone number, and if you are staying somewhere for a while, add a local phone number where you can be reached in case you are separated from your pet (traveling with a cell phone is a road trip necessity – add your cell phone number to your tags). Pack a recent photo or make sure you have pics of your pet on your phone, just in case. And if all possible, have your pet microchipped. Nationwide shelters, veterinarians and animal control departments check for chips. It’s a great backup for I.D. tags that can be lost.
Make sure your pet is ready to travel.
Not all pets are natural-born travelers. Acclimate your pet. Be certain that your pet is accustomed to traveling in a car. If not, try a series of shorter trips before taking a long one. Take them on short trips (10-15 minutes) to the pet store, pet-friendly restaurant or to a park for a game of fetch. Make it fun and part of your usual routine. Gradually lengthen the drives so your pet is in the car for a few hours. Try to avoid having your pet’s only car experience be a trip to the vet!
Keep your pets cool and comfortable.
While driving, if the weather is warm, use your air conditioning. Always make sure that air is being circulated frequently. When you park, find a nice patch of shade and if you have a windshield sun shade, use it. And NEVER leave your pets in the car unattended for any reason.
Plan ahead for all travel accommodations.
This is especially important during peak travel times when motels, hotels, and campgrounds fill up quickly. Many accommodations do not accept pets and some that do have only a limited number of rooms available to pet owners, and/or apply size or number restrictions.
Make sure your pet is well-trained before taking her/him on the road. Please be sure your pet has learned the basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and quiet before you embark on a trip of any length. This is necessary for your pet’s safety.
Keep your pet leashed.
Many places have laws requiring this anyway, but keeping your pet on a leash is the best way to prevent runaway pets. In fact, even before you get your pet out of the car, it’s best to put him on a leash so he doesn’t leap out of the vehicle ahead of you. The only place to safely unleash your pet outdoors is in a fully enclosed pet-friendly park.
Clean up after your pet-please!
No one actually likes this task but it is necessary. The more people pick up after their pets, the more welcome pets will be in public places. Tip: Always travel with a 4-1 mix of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle to remove traces of any indoor accidents or lingering smell.
Create a traveling environment that feels like home.
This means trying to feed your pets the same food at the same time you feed her at home. Also, if you pet sleeps in a crate at home, bring it along. If he doesn’t have a crate, bring an old blanket or large towel to create a designated pet area in your sleeping quarters.
Feed your pet lightly before beginning the trip, about one third of their normal amount. Save the remainder and feed it once you’ve reached your destination.
Restrain your pet.
Use a pet harness or secured carrier. For more information on choosing the best harness or carrier, read our blog – Do you travel with your pets.
Never let your pet ride unrestrained in the back of a truck.
Don’t allow your pet to stick its head out the window.
I know your dog loves this, but this is a safety risk for them. Flying debris can get in their eyes. They could easily jump out at stops and even scarier while the car is in motion. And scarier still, there have been incidences of road rage when a dog has been thrown from a vehicle into traffic. This can all be remedied by safely harnessing or crating your dog during trips.
Every one in the car needs a break and that includes your pet. Stop at least every three hours to allow your pet to exercise and relieve itself – and you to stretch your legs. But during rest stops, never allow your pet to run loose. A pet can become lost, run into traffic, or get involved in a fight with another animal.
Never leave your pet unattended.
Don’t leave your pet alone in the car for any amount of time, especially during warm or cold weather. A car parked in the sun can quickly become overheated and shade moves. Additionally, your pet can become a target for theft. If you want to leave your car for any length of time and cannot bring your pet, leave your pet in your hotel room or contact a local kennel or veterinarian for their day rates.