About 70% of American households have a pet, according to a American Pet Products Association survey, and many of those families enjoy vacationing with their pets. But while traveling with a pet can be fun, it takes planning, preparation and patience to get it right. The most important tips for traveling with pets have to do with making sure your pet is comfortable and safe throughout the trip.
if you are planning hit the road either take to the skies with your pet, here are the most important travel safety tips for taking your dog or cat on vacation, especially if it’s your first time with a pet.
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Before traveling with your pet, first make sure that Fido or Fluffy is welcome wherever you go. “Start planning your vacation much farther away than you normally would,” advised Josh Snead, CEO of Rainwalk Pet Insurance. “Finding pet-friendly accommodation can be more difficult than expected, and the last thing you want to do is scramble to find a pet sitter at the last minute.”
Be clear about what “pet-friendly” means in your hotel either Vacation Rentals, also. “If you’re traveling with a dog that weighs more than 15 pounds, ask what size dogs they accept,” said Heather Eisenstadt, founder of a pet-focused travel agency. Top Dog Pet Travel. “Many places have breed restrictions (or only allow small dogs), so make sure your breed is welcome.
“I’ve faced challenges finding cat-friendly hotels,” said Dr. Molly DeVoss, a certified feline behavior and training specialist and founder of the nonprofit feline behavior solutions. “Many hotels say ‘pet-friendly’ when they really mean ‘dog-friendly’. Be sure to call the local hotel phone number and confirm that ‘pet’ includes your cat.”
Before you set out on your trip, familiarize your pet with how you will be traveling. If you’re flying with your pet in a carrier, ask your pet to spend some time in it while you’re still home. If you’re going to turn it into a tripdo some practice runs.
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“Some dogs enjoy riding in the car, but others can get anxious until they understand what’s going on,” Eisenstadt said. “Get your dog used to traveling in the car by taking him on short trips. Drive to nearby towns where you can walk him, so he gets used to being in new places and meeting people and other dogs.”
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the Humane Society of the United States recommends that dogs and cats be placed in carriers or cages anchored to the seat with a seat belt when traveling in the car. Although dogs love to ride with their heads out the window, it is not safe for them. Risks include falling, jumping, or injury from a collision or sudden braking.
However, providing your dog or cat with distractions is a good idea. “Just as parents may want to keep their children busy while traveling, pet parents may want to keep their dog busy,” Eisenstadt said. “A busy dog is a committed dog. Have some chew toys available, especially ones that you can hide treats in that will keep your dog busy for hours.”
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For car travel with cats, Dr. DeVoss recommends covering her carrier with a sheet: “It makes your cat more nauseated and scared if she can see things moving outside,” she said.
For air travel with pets in the passenger cabin, Dr. Amanda Takiguchi, a veterinarian and founder of the dog-focused website fashion breeds, prefer soft-sided carriers that fit easily under the seat. “Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around on it,” she said. “The carrier should have mesh sides to allow a lot of airflow… There should also be a pad or blanket on the carrier so your dog can be comfortable.”
Sticking to your pet’s normal routine during your travels can help reduce the animal’s stress and anxiety. “If you typically take them out at 7:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 7:00 pm, you’ll want to keep it that way,” recommended Brandi Hunter Munden, vice president of public relations and communications for american kennel club. “You want the familiarity to continue as long as possible.”
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The same goes for food and water. “Take your dog’s regular food with you on the trip or know where you can buy it,” Eisenstadt said. “Changing food can cause digestive problems.” Feed them on the same schedule as usual.
If your pet takes medications, make sure to give them at the same time (and pack enough for your stay). It’s also smart to put your veterinarian’s contact information or cell phone number in your contacts and plan ahead by knowing where you can take your pet in an emergency at your destination.
Once you arrive at your destination, set some ground rules for your pet. “Let them explore a little bit, but also make sure they know where they can go to the bathroom and where they can’t,” Hunter Munden said. “Do not leave your dog alone without a crate or confinement in those spaces to reduce the potential for any damage to the space due to issues such as anxiety or a new environment.”
“Don’t leave things lying around for your pet to ‘find’ just because you’re away from home,” advised Sadie Cornelius, who handles creative and content marketing for canine diary and travels frequently with his dog. “All those new decorations (for them) might seem like fun toys. Keep them out of your pet’s reach.”
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Many pet-friendly hotels do not allow pets to be left alone in the room without supervision. If you’re in a rental home and need to leave your pet behind for a while, keep her in a crate and provide her with some toys or other distractions. “If your dog is making noise while you’re away, turning the TV on to a low volume while you’re away can keep some dogs quiet,” he said. Dr Sara Wootensmall animal veterinarian and public speaker.
Recognizable items can help your pet feel comfortable and travel safely. “You should bring your pet’s favorite things to make the place you’re staying feel like home,” said Dr. Sabrina Kong, one of the vets involved with the website. WeLoveDoodles. “Their toys, sheets or pillows will help them feel more comfortable.”
FamilyVacationist.com Covers family vacation ideas; family vacation spots; all inclusive family resorts; and essential travel accessories for families of all shapes, sizes and orientations. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
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