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Tips for Traveling with Pets

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Planning a road trip with your four-legged friend? Many of us travel with our pets, and like all our other precious cargo we want to ensure that they are safe. Yet traveling with a pet is much more than just loading the animal in the back seat and taking off. Here are a few tips for traveling with pets to help keep your pets (and your family) protected. 

cat in a carrier for traveling with pets

1. Make Plans for Securing Your Pet During Travel

One of the most important tips for traveling with pets is safety while on the road. Just as you wouldn’t want your children unsecured in the car, nor do you want your pets. A loose pet is a distraction, and a safety hazard. These days there plenty of devices to keep your pet restrained and reasonably happy while driving with pets.

Do some research online into the different types of restraints designed for pets before making a decision. Whatever model you choose, make sure is well-ventilated, and large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in.

Do not put the carrier on the seat and buckle it in with the seatbelt. This can actually harm your pet more than it can protect it. In the event of a crash, seatbelts have been known to crush carriers. Instead, secure the carrier in the floor behind either the driver’s seat or the passenger’s seat.

While you are driving, make sure your pet remains secured at all times.

Pro Tip: get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip by leaving it out with the door open. Encourage your pet to sit in the carrier or nap while the door is open.

2. Prepare Your Pet for Travel Ahead of Time

It never hurts to get your pet ready for a road trip by taking him/her on a series of short drives first. Gradually lengthen the time spent in the car with each trip. Before you even leave the driveway – both for preparatory drives and the real trip – double check that their crate is secure, so it won’t slide or shift in the event of a quick stop.

3. Schedule a Vet Visit Before You Leave

Make sure your pet is up-to-date on his or her shots, and flea, tick and heartworm medications. While there, have your vet perform a general health check to make sure your furry friend is healthy enough to travel. In addition, if your pet takes any medications on a regular basis, make sure you have enough for the entire trip as well as a few extra in case of any unplanned events.

4. Have a Way to Find Your Pet

While on vacation nobody wants to lose their beloved pet, but unfortunately, it happens more than you think. Prepare for the worst when traveling with pets by making sure your pet at minimum has a collar and tag. Ensure that your current address, phone number and vet’s phone number is on the tag and easy to read. It doesn’t hurt to check the collar as well to make sure it isn’t fraying or broken.

In addition to collars and tags, consider getting a microchip. This tiny rice-grain sized object is a very important tool to help you locate your pets should they wander off during your vacation together.

5. Plan to Be Extra Careful When Stopping

When traveling with pets, pay special attention whenever you make a stop. Ensure you pet is secured before you open any of the doors or windows. If you want to take your pet with you, make sure you put a leash on before you get out.

If you opt to leave them in the car, have another person remain with them. Never leave a pet unsupervised in a car, especially on a very hot or very cold day. Like humans, excessive heat or cold can kill them.

5. Prepare for Your Accommodations

When traveling with pets, you should always double check the pet policy before booking your accommodations for both on the road and at your destination. While you want to make sure pets are allowed, you also want to ensure the place is safe for pets. For example, check that there is no easy way for your pet to escape the room, apartment, cabin or condo. Also make sure there are no hazards such as toxic plants or small items your pet may be tempted to chew on.

When packing, be sure to bring items to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort. Consider bringing an extra containment option with you to ensure your pet is secure when staying in a hotel. For example, Soft Crates are very portable and can be your pet’s home away from home.

In addition, bringing comfort items can also help your pet transition to the unfamiliar hotel room. Their blanket, crate, cat cave or pet bed will go a long way in providing comfort and familiarity.

And don’t forget to bring extra potty pads and belly bands – especially if your dog marks his territory! If you’re traveling with a cat, don’t forget the litter box and extra litter.

Be sure to pack a portable water bowl and food bowl. In order to avoid possible pet GI issues during your vacation you should skip any treats provided by the hotel. Instead, bring some extra treats from home. And the same goes for pet food. Introducing new foods during travel can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to your pets!

6. Schedule a Check Up for Your Car

Nobody wants to be broken down on the side of the road, especially when you are traveling with pets. Avoid this by scheduling maintenance for your vehicle before you leave. Make sure they change the oil, top off fluids, check all lights, and make sure your tires are in good shape.

And speaking of tires, check your spare, too. Make sure it is full of air and the tread is in good condition. If your car comes with a repair kit, ensure that everything you need in there and in good working order.

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