Guest Post by Jennifer Scott
Taking a vacation is meant to be a relaxing endeavor, but when it comes to traveling with a dog there can be a lot of added stress. It’s important to make sure that your companion is safe and comfortable, especially on long, curvy rides on mountain roads. Here are seven tips for safe pet travel:
1. Visit the vet’s office first. You want to be sure that your pet is ready to hit the open road (or open air) health-wise, especially since you won’t be close to his regular doctor while you’re away. Further, many airlines require a certificate of veterinary inspection within 10 days of traveling.
2. Be wary of harsh weather conditions. If you’re flying during the summer or winter months, be sure to check that the airline will accommodate for extreme temperatures. This is especially important if your pet will take the trip below the cabin. If you’re taking a winter weekend getaway to the mountains with your pup, pack him his own blankets and sweaters to protect him from the cold.
3. Choose the right crate for your pet. Crates are required for pets to travel via plane, and an excellent option for car rides. (They’re also a good way to keep pets polite while staying in hotels or with a loved one.) Make sure the crate large enough to allow him to stand, turn, and lie down with plenty of ventilation. It should have a leak proof bottom and be lined with absorbent material like a towel or blanket in case of potty accidents. A “live animal” label should be placed in a clearly visible spot on the outside.
4. Pack a travel kit. Even if your pet is a tenured traveler, the process can be quite stressful for animals. Put together a travel kit for him full of his favorite goodies and toys to create a sense of familiarity: his food, water bowl, bed or blanket, and a couple of his favorite toys. If you’re flying, you may want to consider leaving him a T-shirt that smells like you for added reassurance.
5. Look out for safety hazards. Though you’ll want a leash with you, don’t leave it in the crate as it could be a serious choking risk. Loose collars can pose a similar problem, so find the happy medium between too snug and too loose. Dogs will appreciate a good chew bone to keep their minds occupied, but make sure it won’t break into small pieces that he could choke on (especially on a bumpy flight or road trip).
6. Figure breaks into your travel time. Especially if you’re going on a lengthy car ride, plan to take pit stops every two hours or so to give your pet a break. Give dogs a potty walk and allow them a little extra time to run around, explore the mountain scenery, or play with a ball or Frisbee; it’ll make him feel less restless and maybe even burn off enough energy to let him snooze during the drive.
7. Consider boarding your pet. Though it’s difficult to leave your beloved pet behind, however temporarily, it may actually be better for him to skip the stress of travel. You can find a responsible pet sitter who would love to care for your companion, and with today’s technology you can easily stay updated on his stay with daily photos and video chats. Think of it as your pet taking his own vacation in a safe, compassionate environment!
Traveling with a pet can be tricky, but with the right tools and approach even the ruff-est rides can be enjoyable!
Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. She created her website, SpiritFinder.org, as a platform for advocacy on opening up about mental health. Through the site, she hopes to share the types of steps and success stories that can help others realize their own power. When she isn’t working on her website, she enjoys traveling, working with animals, and seeking out new friendships and adventures.
Image: Federico Stevanin, freedigitalphotos.net