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Traveling with Pets

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 Dog sticking head out of car window

Traveling with Toto

Knowing you’re about to go on a fun vacation and get away from the daily routine of the household is a fun and exciting time! But what you can’t get away from is the question of who’s going to hold down the fort while you’re gone? Will you need someone to collect your mail? Someone to water your plants? More importantly, do you have a pet that needs to be taken care of?

You have several options for how your pet situation can be handled when you’re about to leave for a trip. Fido can be left at a pet hotel, kennel, or boarding facility, or you can entrust a friend or family member to visit the house and check that they have sufficient food, water, and bathroom time. Or you can also ask yourself if your pet could benefit from joining you!

If your pet could use some new scenery, new smells, and new faces, it could be a pleasant and memorable experience to bring your dog or cat along on vacation! While the idea is definitely exciting and very doable, you have to make sure that you and your pet are prepared with all the travel essentials and plans.

Travel Tips

  • Make sure your pet is fit for travel. Before embarking, make sure your pet has received all the appropriate vaccinations. This includes being free from rabies, ticks, fleas, and any other conditions that could make them unfit for travel, such as age or medical issues. Being in their healthiest, best condition for travel ensures they and other vacationers will have a safe, fun time.
  • Look for places to stay that are pet-friendly. If you will be staying in a hotel, check with their policy to see whether or not companions are welcome. Also check if there is any type of fee or weight limit mentioned.
  • Socialize your pet. Your pet must be ready to interact with unfamiliar faces and even other pets that they may encounter during the journey or at the destination. They should be well behaved, obedient, and able to safely interact with their surroundings.
  • Come prepared for an emergency. It’s always possible for accidents to happen - even on vacation. Come prepared with a first aid kit filled with some medical essentials, like bandages, tablets, chews, topicals, ointments, powders for minor bleeding, scissors, etc. Restraints are important too, such as leashes, harnesses, and muzzles. Of course, don’t forget the doggy bags or pooper scoopers to pick up after your pet.
  • Have them wear a collar and ID tag. A collar with an ID tag attached to it is imperative in a situation where your pet is separated from you or becomes lost. An ID with your pet’s name and appropriate contact information makes sure that people know where to return your feline or canine if they’re found.
  • Bring things to help anxiety. Some dogs and cats get anxiety while traveling, especially if they get overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity once they’ve reached the destination. Keep handy things that help with your pet’s anxiety, such as calming products or even the ThunderShirt.
  • Travel By Car

  • Get your pet used to the car. Have them go on trial runs in the car to see how they react. See if they get anxious, nauseous, or handle it just fine. If you’re planning on going on a longer road trip, get your pet used to being in the car by bringing them on shorter errand trips then gradually increasing the distance you travel.
  • Determine where they will be seated. There are many options for how your pet may be seated during the trip. You may choose to strap them in using a harness connected to your car’s seat belts, in a pet booster seat, or simply on a seat cover.
  • Have water. Water is always a must have for both you and your pet when traveling. Travel or portable water bowls are super handy in this situation.
  • Stop for potty breaks. Schedule in a few pit stops along the way so that both you and your pup have time to relieve yourselves for a more comfortable car ride. If you have a cat, bring along a litter pan.
  • Don’t leave them alone in the car. Your pet should never be left alone in the car for long periods of time, especially on hotter days. This is dangerous and can lead to your pet overheating in a matter of minutes.
  • Travel By Plane

  • Learn your airline’s policies. Do your research and check to make sure that your specific type, breed, and size of pet is allowed to fly. If allowed, your airline will have your companion be treated as either a carry on to be placed under your seat or checked baggage in the cargo hold.
  • Pick a flight with less layovers. Try to book a direct flight or one with as little layovers as possible. It will make the trip go by quicker and more comfortably for your pet and reduce the risk of them getting lost or more anxious during a crossover.
  • Make their carrier comfortable. Find one that gives them the space to turn around and switch positions in it if needed. Throw in bedding, toys, or a piece of your clothing to make it cozy and more familiar to them.
  • Walk them beforehand. Give your pet the opportunity to stretch and exercise before being on a plane for a longer period of time. Be sure that they use the bathroom, too.

  • Most importantly, consult with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to help you prepare your pet for the trip better than anyone else, complete with needed vaccinations, paperwork, needed checkups, and further instruction and tips for travel. Follow your veterinarian’s advice, check off the items on this checklist, and prepare you and your furry friend for a fun time!

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