We’ve covered travelling with children recently, and now we turn our attention to pets. If you’re heading out on a long journey with your cat or dog, there are a number of things you should do to help your pet prepare. The tips below cover getting ready for the trip and hitting the road. Many people also take their pets on the plane, so we’ve including some flying tips as well. If you’ve got a great tip, let us know.
BEFORE YOU GO:
If you’re leaving on an extended trip or crossing borders, make an appointment at the vet for a check-up. Vaccinations should be up to date and you should carry documents that prove this. Consider implanting a micro-chip with ownership information in your pet.
- Make sure that all ID tags are current and have your cell phone number on them.
- Clip your pet’s nails and give them a good brushing.
- Take your pet on short drives to get them used to car travel and being in a carrier.
- A spare collar.
- Old bed sheets are handy for covering hotel beds and couches.
- A special brush for removing pet hair from car interiors and clothes. In a pinch you can use packing tape.
- Plenty of dry food and water, plus familiar feeding bowls.
- Treats and familiar toys.
- A leash.
- Any medications your pet may be taking. Bring extra doses in case your trip is extended.
- Official papers and documents.
- A poop scoop, plastic bags and litter for cats.
- Carry a recent photo of your pet. If it gets lost you’ll have an actual image rather than just a description.
- Bringing water from home is another way to keep your pet calm by using familiar items. It also helps avoid possible stomach upset from drinking different water. Bottled water is a fine alternative.
ON THE ROAD:
The SPCA recommends using a well-ventilated carrier that has enough room for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in. Secure the carrier with bungee cords so that it doesn’t slide around. Here are some of their recommendations along with our own:
- Never, ever leave your pet unattended in a hot vehicle. Even with windows rolled down, the interior temperature can rise to dangerous levels.
- Cut down on messes by feeding your pet before the trip, not in the car.
- Make sure to take breaks on long road trips so your pet can eat, drink, exercise and go to the bathroom.
- Don’t use a leash on your pet inside a carrier. They could easily get tangled up and might choke.
- While most dogs love to stick their heads out the window while driving, this can be extremely dangerous. Stones and other flying debris can seriously injure a pet.
- One of the most irresponsible things a driver can do is to allow a pet to ride on their lap. In the event of an emergency, the pet will hinder the driver. In the case of an accident, the pet will suffer serious injuries.
IN THE AIR:
- Book short, direct flights where possible.
- A proper shipping crate will reduce the chance of injuries and escape.
- Write “live animal” on the side of the carrier and affix a photo and contact information.
- A bowl of frozen water is a good idea as well – it won’t spill during plane loading and will slowly melt, providing your pet something to drink in the air.
- Airline staff are very helpful when it comes to pets. If you attach a small pouch of dry food to the container along with a note, staff will be able to give your pet a snack.
Don’t forget that your pet is in a new and stressful environment and can’t easily express their anxiety. Make sure that you stop and check on them often. With a little preparation, there’s no reason why your pet can’t have a great trip too.