If you’re like most pet owners, you’ll agree that your dog is more than just your pet, he or she is a member of your family. That’s also why many of you will be traveling with your pooch this holiday season. Every dog comes with their own personality and travel quirks, whether that is anxiety, car sickness, or simply not being a considerate houseguest. Luckily, there are things you can do to ensure that you and your pup are prepared for travel before, during, and after the trip.
- Make sure your pet is up-to-date with their shots and medication, including vaccinations, flea, tic and heartworm preventatives.
- In addition to a tag and collar, microchip you dog. This is recommended to do anyway, but is especially important when you’re in unfamiliar territory. Should they wander during your adventures together, this little rice-grain sized object can help bring them back to you.
- Pack an extra collar and leash just in case your normal one gets damaged or lost. You may want to pack your own water and food dishes also. Bring lots of toys to keep your pal occupied so they don’t chew on anything they aren’t supposed to or wander. Potty pads are also a good thing to bring.
- Locate a veterinarian near your travel destination in case of emergency. You can call your normal vet and ask them for recommendations. You may also want to have a copy of their medical records with you.
- Acclimate you pet to the carrier prior to travel. It will make the trip much easier for everyone.
- A quick refresher in the basics commands: sit, down, stay, come, etc. will come in handy.
If you will be flying…
- Check with the airport and airline to see what is required when traveling with your dog. Can they go in the cabin with you? Are there any restrictions on breeds that can be transported? What forms and proof of vaccinations and health certificates do you need to provide?
- If you will be flying and your dog can ride in the cabin with you, make sure your carrier meets the criteria for the airline. Check with your airline for details on size restrictions and travel conditions for in-flight pets. Always pack your carrier with extra potty pads, pick up bags extra collar and leash. Small plastic food/water bowls are also helpful.
- Thoroughly research the airport and airline to see what kind of care you should expect your pet to receive during travel. There are no standards for pet travel, so the quality of care is subjective and inconsistent. Ensure you have a contact person from the airline who can assist you with any pet related problems upon landing.
- If your pet is a nervous traveler, there are steps you can take to reduce stress. Choose a direct flight instead of one with stops, do not feed them for at least 4 hours prior to the flight and make sure they get plenty of exercise before the flight. Do not tranquilize your pet as it can lead to in-flight emergencies.
During car travel
- Hot cars can be very dangerous, even fatal for dogs. Make sure your dog has ample airflow to them in the car and access to water frequently. Never leave a dog unattended in a car with the windows up.
- Know your state transportation laws, as well as laws in any states you will be driving through. In some states, it is illegal for dogs to ride unrestrained in a vehicle.
- Don’t be distracted by Fido. Ensure that your pet is safely harnessed in the back seat and unable to distract you with face licks or belly rub requests.
- As much as your dog may love to let their ears blow in the wind, allowing them to put their heads out of the car window is dangerous - road debris in their eyes can be painful and costly.
- Leave time to stop for potty breaks on long car rides.
During airline travel
- Keep all required documents with you at all times. Arrive early in case any problems arise.
- Make your dog is easily identifiable with a collar, tag and microchip. Make sure the carrier is appropriately and heavily marked “Live Animal”. Include your cell phone number and a family or friend’s contact number in case of emergency in the crate.
- If you are the least bit concerned about the condition of your pooch when you’re reunited, obtain immediate veterinary care.
After reaching your destination
- Be a considerate guest. Whether at a pet-friendly hotel or a loved one’s house, not everyone will love your dog as much as you do. Make sure your dog is groomed and follows the house rules. Just because it’s OK at your house for your pooch to snuggle with you on the couch doesn't mean it will be OK here.
- Stay as close to your dog's regular feeding schedule as possible and avoid giving extra treats or different types of foods that may upset their stomach. They might love that holiday ham or turkey now, but their stomach may not later.
- Bring a comfortable, contained space that you can put them in if needed. Soft crates are a very portable option and can be your dog’s home away from home. Lining it with blankets and items from home can assist your dog’s transition and help them feel right at home.