Since the holiday season is fast approaching, now is the time for pet owners to consider whether or not to allow their pets to join them during holiday travel. With the increasing availability of pet-friendly hotels and restaurants, traveling with pets is now much more convenient than ever before. If you do decide to travel with your pets, it’s important to know what to do to help ensure your trip is as safe and relaxing as possible for them.
Before The Trip
If you plan to travel by vehicle, make sure your dog or cat enjoys riding in the car. Many times, pets associate “going for a car ride” as “going to the veterinarian”, and thus, the pet makes negative associations with being in a vehicle. To help them acclimate, you should take them on a series of short car rides before making your long journey. Once the short ride is over, the pet should be rewarded with a small treat each time. After taking several short trips, you’ll want to evaluate your pet to determine if they are calm enough to make the longer trip. If you determine your pet is still overly-anxious, it may be best to leave the pet behind and hire a pet sitter to care for them.
You should be sure all vaccinations are current, and also consider having them microchipped. Furthermore, each pet should have their own identification tag with current owner information. It’s also important to bring your pets’ veterinary contact information and vaccination records with you during your holiday travel.
Before leaving home, research veterinary clinics near your travel destination. Also, you can map out reputable veterinary clinics and 24-hour veterinary hospitals while en route, in case of a medical emergency.
Before you head out, your dog should know basic commands like sit, stay and come. These commands will be helpful when your dog is experiencing new and different environments. Also, you should train your dog to be relaxed in his pet carrier/crate. Having a dog crate available to your dog well in advance of your trip, and keeping it in your home with the door open will encourage your dog to start using it in his current environment. This way, the crate becomes a positive and safe space for your dog.
Traveling In The Car
Something to consider with your pet is giving them pet calming chews. If they are ever faced with a stressful situation, try using the chews and determine if they are effective in helping to calm them. If so, 30 minutes or so prior to leaving for your trip, you can give your pet the calming chews. Or, you can opt to use a pressure vest/shirt, which will gently hug your pet and cause a calming effect to most pets.
A carrier or crate should be used for traveling with cats and smaller dogs, while larger dogs should be in a seatbelt harness. By using a seatbelt harness or carrier/crate, it will keep your pets from roaming the vehicle, which can be very distractful for drivers.
Furthermore, make sure where the dog is located in the vehicle has a comfortable temperature. Many times, they end up in the back of the vehicle with the sun beating down on them, which becomes very hot.
Staying In Hotels
There are plenty of pet-friendly hotels, however, you should call ahead of time to find out if your destination allows pets and what the rules are for staying with a pet.
Keep in mind, even if your dog is potty trained, he is more likely to have an accident in a new environment. You should show your dog around and take him outside more frequently than usual so he will re-establish a potty routine.
You’ll want to help your dog get comfortable in the hotel by creating a familiar environment and by sticking to routines. This being said, you would bring his usual food bowls as well as his usual food and treats to the hotel. If your pet has favorite blankets or a pet bed he uses at home, be sure to bring it along for the trip. These items will smell like your pet and will remind him of home, which can make him much calmer during your travels together.
During The Trip
As well as bringing familiar food, food bowls, blankets and bedding, be sure to bring along other favorite items such as toys and treats. Also, don’t forget to bring leashes, poop bags, cat litter and litter boxes. Try not to feed the pets 3-4 hours prior to leaving, to prevent upset stomachs.
You’ll want to make frequent stops if traveling in the car. Take breaks about every 2 hours, so your dog can take a quick bathroom break, as well as a quick stretch of their legs. This will also allow them to explore their surroundings.
Once you reach your destination, you’ll want to create a comfortable space your pet can call his own. More than likely, he has his own space (or two) at home, so when he’s in a new environment, you’ll want to create a new space for him, to help alleviate any stress he may be feeling. Some pets may be comfortable in their carries, while others may need a small corner of a room.
Try to keep your pet on a normal routine as best as possible. This could include taking him out to use the bathroom at the same times you would at home, feeding him the same food and on the same schedule, taking him on daily walks, and having plenty of playtime with him as well.
Furthermore, you’ll want to be patient with your pet during these travels. There may be times he will be more nervous than usual, so it’s important for you to remain calm and supportive of him. The holidays and traveling can be stressful for all of us – but pets look to their pet owners for guidance!
Planning A Successful Pet Trip
Long trips require plenty of planning ahead of time, whether or not you’re traveling with pets. However, with the right preparation beforehand, traveling with your pet can be a huge success. Remember to keep them on as much of a routine as possible, while also surrounding them with items that remind them of home.
If you decide traveling with your pet is too stressful, then please keep 2 Paws Up Inc in mind for your in-home pet sitting and dog walking needs. We’re always here to help take care of your furry family and help eliminate any stress your pets may feel while you’re away. Even though your pets may not like when you’re traveling and not home with them, some pets are much more comfortable staying behind in their normal environment.