Everyone seems to have cabin fever after the long winter months, even our pets! So as you plan for spring break getaways, quick weekend trips to visit grandma or even a day trip to your local park or favorite hiking trail, here are a few tips for taking your fur-family member along.
- Always start your adventure with a clean bill of health from the vet. Make sure all vaccines are current and that you take proof of those vaccines with you on your trip (many pet-friendly hotels and parks may require proof upon arrival).
- If your pet is taking any prescribed medications, be sure to pack enough doses for your trip plus a few more (in case your trip is extended for unforeseen circumstances).
- The leash is mandatory! And knowing who is responsible for the dog while on the leash is important too. Having an adult oversee the pet when making stops is highly recommended.
Traveling by car
For your safety and the safety of your pet, use a carrier or seat belt-tested harness to keep your pet in the backseat. This will minimize injury in the event of an accident as well as prevent your dog or cat from breaking free when car doors are open at a stop.
- It is best to feed your pet a light meal 4 – 6 hours before departing on your journey and if at all possible do not feed or water your pet while in a moving vehicle. Eating in the car increases their odds of becoming car sick.
- Plan to make a few stops along the drive. Every 2 hours is a good rule of thumb for both you and your pet. This will allow your fur-friend to get a drink, stretch their legs and take a restroom break (remember your pet is very excited about the change in scenery and may need to potty more frequently).
- Avoid letting your dog hang his or her head out the window. Road debris and flying objects become deadly weapons at 60 MPH. Also avoid putting your pet in a trailer or camper or allowing them to ride in the bed of a truck. This can be very dangerous for your pet (and in some states is illegal).
Deciding to take your pet on a trip that requires air travel can be a big decision. Rules and regulations vary by airline and should be verified with the provider you choose.
- First for dogs, the breed, size and age are key factors. Certain breeds are more prone to severe respiratory difficulties in an airplane’s poorly ventilated cargo areas. It is recommended that these pets fly in the passenger cabin if their size permits. Also puppies must be at least 8 weeks old and weaned at least five days before air travel.
- Cats are also susceptible to severe respiratory difficulties and should fly in the passenger cabin if permitted. You’ll also want to trim your feline’s nails to avoid them getting hung up on the crate making for a long and uncomfortable flight.
Here are a few more tips for preparing for and traveling by air with your pet:
Flying is not cheap for your pet. The charge for in-cabin travel one way ranges between $95 – $150 per pet.
Do your homework:
Investigate the airline’s animal transport and welfare policies.
Be on the same flight:
If your pet is flying in cargo hold, you should be flying on the same plane. Reserve a non-stop flight without layovers and if it is during the summer fly early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the extreme afternoon temperatures.
Get there early:
Prepare for the flight by arriving early (2 hours early is recommended, but no more than 4 hours early). Also exercise your pet and have food and water dishes attached inside the carrier.
Carry a current photo of your pet with you just in case your pet is separated from you or the plane and have a list of emergency phone numbers on hand should you need to reach someone to help you with your dog or cat.
If you are not taking your pet with you on your vacation, plan in advance where your pet will stay.
Take some time to visit the boarding facility and ask questions about the routine. Notice the cleanliness of the boarding rooms and the safety of the play areas.
You can hire pet sitters to come to your home and spend time with your pet, particularly dogs. If you opt for a pet sitter to come to your home, invite them over prior to your trip so your pet will be familiar with them.
Taking your pet to family and friends:
If a family member or friend offers to keep your pet while you are gone, that’s great too. Schedule a few play dates in advance of your trip and share your pet’s routine with their host.