Have pets in your family? Do they travel with you or do you find a pet sitter or board them? Did you ever have to evacuate due to an emergency and took your pets with you? I am going to tell you how to have a good, safe experience, from my perspective as a long time traveling dog.
When we moved to Mississippi from Virginia we had a 17-hour drive in a Volkswagen convertible. I was with my sister Sheltie, Daisy Mae, and our two cats, Squirt and Strawberry. We did fine because we were used to being out and about and mom took good care of us.
A move and a trip have a lot in common. Routines change and suitcases come out. Am I going or am I staying? Every pet knows when there is something new happening, reassurances need to be made and sticking to the normal schedule as much as possible is very important. Here are the basics for a good travel experience.
Puppy Dog Tales
Make being in the car a fun experience. Trips to the vet do not count. Take us for a fun ride in the car and go to the beach. When we are in the car see how we do. Are we nervous or do we get a little car sick? Getting a benchmark of how we do is very important. You know how I am going to do for a short trip and you know how I will do on a long one.
Rule Number 2:
If your pet is a dog, get a harness/safety belt. In an accident or emergency you need to know we are safe. In many accidents, non-restrained or non-harnessed dogs go flying and are killed or lost. Cats need to be in carriers. The best ones are durable and smooth edged with ventilation and a secure door.
Check with your veterinarian. Are we healthy and up to date on shots? If yes, plan to have a copy of the records and the rabies certificate. Any allergies or carsickness issues to have medicine for? If you have a regular vet, you can log in to www.vetsource.com and get meds while traveling. Ask your veterinarian about this service.
Rule Number 4:
Plan ahead. Where will you stay? Do they allow pets and is there a cost and rules of behavior? There are many websites that tell you about pet friendly hotels like www.goPetFriendly.com. Or www.bringfido.com or www.aaa.com/petbook . You can find cities and locations that love your pets, parks to visit, pet friendly restaurants and meet-up groups. If you are staying with friends or relatives, be sure you find out their house rules and abide by them – if you want to be invited back.
On the trip plan to stop frequently for potty and leg stretching breaks. Always put your pet on a leash and know what the plan is for eating and people bathroom breaks. Never leave a pet in a car on a hot day while you go in to eat. You may have to plan for taking food in the car and stopping at rest stops for eating.
Rule Number 6:
Packing for your pet is like packing for you or your children. Think of everything you need. Bowls for water and food, leashes, blankets and towels, bedding, litter and litter boxes for the cat travelers, a first-aid kit, food, and treats, etc. Think about where you are going to be, at a friend’s or relative’s home or camping or just a long road trip. If you are flying you will need to check with the airlines for all their requirements. Planning ahead and thinking of all the possible scenarios will make the trip fun for all. Pinterest has a large collection of grab and go bag suggestions.
ID, ID, ID. Have a collar with tags, use microchips, and have a photo of your pet and a photo of you with your pet. Using a carrier? Have ID on the carrier. Always have a grab and go bag that has all the documents you need and instructions on medications and what to do if you and your pet get separated from each other – meaning who to contact and instructions on care.
Rule Number 8:
Have a disaster plan in place. Where will you go and what will you take. Have a pet first-aid kit handy, all the documents you need and all the supplies you need. Print out this Red Cross Ready Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist.
This is one of the best because it tells you about preparation, what you need to do and what to do as the disaster approaches. Almost as important is what to know to do after a disaster. Many animals, just like people, suffer from the trauma of the event and need extra care.
Traveling with a pet can be a nightmare or a joy. Do your preparation and you will have a wonderful experience.