Preparing for Pet Travel
Summer travel can be a welcome escape, whether you fly in a plane, ride a train, or hit the highway. But if you have a four-legged loved one, you might not want to leave them behind. You’re not alone, which is why pet travel has become such a popular option. Still, there is much to know and prepare for before your cherished pet becomes a passenger. Here are some tips to get you on your way.
SAFE AND SOUND
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), getting your furry friends microchipped for identification and having them wear a collar and tag that is engraved with your name and contact information is a good start. If you’re ahead of the game on that, consider adding a temporary travel tag with your hotel information to your pet’s collar.
Refill any prescriptions your pet takes ahead of time and ensure they are up-to-date on vaccinations and treatments for fleas, etc. When traveling in the US, you’ll need to provide proof of a rabies vaccine at certain interstate crossings. If you are visiting a single destination, research available veterinarians in the area. This can help bring you peace of mind—just in case.
PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES
Whatever your method of transportation, you’ll want to check ahead for rules and regulations. Pet travel policies vary from one airline to the next and guidelines change often. While some smaller breeds might be allowed in the main cabin, others are restricted to the cargo area. Long-distance train service is limited for pets, and not all rental car companies allow you to transport them. Clarify the travel companies’ definitions of pets, support animals, and service animals and secure proper documentation before you go.
Look to resources such as BringFido, which offers an index of dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, activities, and events that can make your vacation more enjoyable. Prefer to speak directly with the experts? Their Canine Concierges can help you narrow your search over the phone.
Car travel can be more comfortable and allow for flexibility, but there are still risks involved and pet passengers need to be protected, too. If you’ve never taken long drives with your pet, start by taking him or her for a few short, trial-run drives and gradually increase the duration.
Some experts suggest keeping small pets in a well-ventilated pet carrier, while others recommend a harness for car travel. On their website, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) mentions that not all harnesses are created equal. You will want to choose one that is best designed for your needs, whether that is preventing distraction or providing crash protection. Because pets can cause distracted driving, they say it’s important to make sure yours is safely harnessed in the backseat. They encourage a quality, crash-tested harness to protect you, your pet, and other passengers should an accident occur.
Even if you decide against a harness, the experts all caution against letting your pets ride with their head out the window—no matter how happy they look when they do it. Because every breed is different and every pet has a different reaction to travel, do your own research and chat with your vet about the best plan of action for safety. Wherever you go, be mindful of in-car temperatures, which can change quickly.
Don’t leave home without a personalized travel kit for your pet so you have all you need when you leave with Bandit or Tigger. Fill it with food and treats along with other necessities like a water dish, a leash, poop bags or a portable litter box, meds, and a first-aid kit. Pack a favorite toy and bottled water. Whenever possible, try to feed your pet a few hours ahead of your departure time.
Bring along a small flashlight for late-night walks and a towel to wipe dirty paws. Consider a portable container, such as Soft Crates, to keep your pet secure when staying in a hotel. Potty pads and belly bands come in handy for dogs who like to mark their territory. Lastly, bringing extra blankets and pillows can help your home away from home feel more familiar to your cozy companion during your stay. Bonevoyage! Written by Jeanine Matlow. Photography by DGLimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus.
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