With the holidays rapidly approaching, family and friends are making plans to gather together for the festivities. For some pet parents, a trip is no fun if the four-legged members of the family can’t come along. But traveling can be highly stressful, both for you and your animal companions. With thoughtful preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable trip for everyone.
Top 10 Tips For Safe Car Travel With Your Pet Planning a road trip? Traveling with a pet involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off, especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. The ASPCA offers the following tips to help you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip:
1. Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Please make sure to always secure the crate so it won’t slide or shift in the event of a quick stop. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s large enough for your pet to sit, lie down, stand up and turn around in. It is a great idea to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your own home well before your planned trip. There are also specialized seat belt/harness apparatuses available for dogs traveling by car.
2. Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening the time spent in the car. This way you can find out if your pet has any anxiety issues associated with car rides, or any motion sickness. If either of these issues are a problem, please discuss them with your veterinarian.
3. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don’t feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle, even if it is a long drive. If you need to stop for refueling breaks, then you should offer your dog a break as well, by walking him/her on a leash in a safe area, and offering a small amount of water.
4. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death. Designate someone in your travel party to stay with the animal while others rotate bathroom breaks if needed.
5. What is in your pet’s traveling kit? In addition to travel papers, food, bowls, a leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity and comfort.
6. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address/phone number, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat collars (never choke collars), please.
7. Don’t allow your pet to ride with his/her head outside of the window. This can subject your pet to inner ear damage and lung infections, and he/she could be injured by flying objects. Please keep him/her in the back seat in his/her crate, or with a harness attached to a seat buckle as previously described.
8. Traveling across state lines? Bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination record, as some states require this proof at certain interstate crossings. While this generally isn’t a problem, it is better to be prepared ahead of time should you have to show proof, or if your pet has an unfriendly encounter.
9. When it come to water, we say BYOB. Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs or water bottles. Drinking water from an area that your pet is not used to could result in GI upset for your pet (e.g. vomiting or diarrhea).
10. If you travel frequently with your pet, you may want to invest in rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers, available at auto product retailers.
Top 10 Tips For Safe Air Travel With Your Pet Planning a flight? The ASPCA urges pet owners to think twice about flying their pets on commercial airlines, especially if they plan on checking them in as cargo. Unless your pet is small enough to fit under your seat in a carrier and you can bring him/her in the cabin, the ASPCA recommends pet owners to not fly their animal. If pet owners have already committed to transporting their pets on commercial airlines, the ASPCA is offering the following top ten tips for safe air travel with your pet:
1. Make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for an examination, and make sure all vaccinations are current. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of departure. For travel outside of the continental United States, additional planning and health care requirements are often necessary. Contact the foreign office of the country you are traveling to and the USDA for more information.
2. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and is wearing a collar and ID tag with your phone numbers. The collar should also include destination information in case your pet escapes. Flat collars are best for dogs (no choke collars, please). Breakaway collars are best for cats.
3. Book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel.
4. Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that is large enough for your pet to sit, stand up, and turn around in comfortably. Shipping crates can be purchased from many pet supply stores and airlines.
5. Write the words “Live Animal” in letters at least one inch tall on top of and on at least one side of the crate. Use arrows to prominently indicate the upright position of the crate. On the top of the crate, write the name, address and telephone number of your pet’s destination point. Also, indicate whether you will be accompanying your pet or if someone else is picking him/her up. Make sure that the door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency. Line the bottom of the crate with some type of bedding – shredded paper, newspaper, or towels – to absorb any accidents.
6. Affix a current photograph of your pet to the top of the crate for identification purposes. Should your pet escape from the carrier, this could be a lifesaver. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.
7. The night before your flight/trip, make sure you’ve frozen a small dish or tray of water for your pet. This way, it cannot spill during loading, and will melt by the time your pet is thirsty. Tape a small pouch, preferably cloth, of dried food outside the crate. Airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he gets hungry on long-distance flights or a layover.
8. Tranquilizing your pet is not usually recommended, as it could hamper his breathing and delay his reflexes in case of an emergency. Always check with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
9. Tell every airline employee you encounter, on the ground and in the air, that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way, they’ll be ready if any additional considerations or attention is needed.
10. If the plane is delayed, or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible. In certain situations, removing the animal from the cargo hold and deplaning may be warranted.
If you are planning on traveling with your pet, and need to schedule an appointment for an examination, or to discuss any concerns you may have about traveling, please call us at 706-546-7879. Our friendly staff would be happy to assist you, as we all wish you a safe and happy holiday season.
If you are planning to travel, but need to find accommodations for your pet, we offer boarding here in a temperature-controlled, secure and well-staffed facility. Please let us know how we can help you. We greatly appreciate you and love all of your pets as if they were our own.