Traveling With Pets – Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Journey

Dogs revel in car rides, while cats are often more hesitant.

Ask your vet to make sure your pet is fit for travel and to update their microchip. She may also be able to recommend calming supplements or medications for your pet, depending on their stress level.

Try to book direct flights when possible. This will cut down on stress and time away from home.

1. Get Your Pet Used to Being in a Car

A comfortable dog or cat in the car makes the trip far more enjoyable for both pet and owner. Getting your pet used to riding in the car before your vacation is a great idea, especially if they have not been in a carrier before.

Some dogs get motion sickness in the car, and this can make them irritable or even vomiting during their travels. Puppies are especially prone to motion sickness because their inner ears are not fully developed. This is usually only a temporary problem and will resolve itself as they age, but it can create a negative association with car rides.

Begin by encouraging your dog or cat to enter their carrier by enticing them with treats and letting them discover that the crate is not a place of confinement. Gradually increase the time that your pets spend in their carriers and take them on short trips around town to build up their comfort level.

2. Get Your Pet Used to Being on the Airplane

If you’re traveling with your pet in the cargo hold of an airplane, it is especially important to prepare them for the flight ahead of time. They will be surrounded by strangers and their crate may be moved around the plane during the flight. The turbulence and changes in air pressure, sounds, and smells can be stressful for pets.

Plan ahead and make sure you bring everything your pet typically needs at home, advises Darcia Kostiuk, senior veterinarian for Orijen pet food. This includes a crate that is large enough for your dog or cat to comfortably sit, stand, turn around in and lie down. It should also be soft-sided as hard-sided crates can restrict breathing, especially for short-nosed dogs and cats.

You’ll need to have a health certificate from your veterinarian and tape a label to the crate with your contact information and “Live Animal” or “Air Cargo.” Consider freezing a dish of water that you can melt during your layovers, and ask your veterinarian about medication for anxiety or motion sickness.

3. Get Your Pet Used to Being on the Train

If you’re planning on traveling by train with your dog, make sure to get them used to the new environment. If possible, walk them around the station prior to your trip. Also, be sure to keep them on a leash so they can’t run off or be distracted by other people or dogs.

Purchasing a USDA-approved shipping crate that’s large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in is important for keeping your pet comfortable during the journey. Line the crate with pet-safe potty pads to prevent accidents and to provide an extra layer of comfort.

Be sure to bring a travel kit with food, water, bowls, waste bags, grooming supplies, medication and first aid in case of emergencies. You’ll also want to have a current photograph of your pet on hand in case they get lost during the journey. In addition, be sure to write your pet’s name on their carrier and include their microchip information in case they are ever separated from you.

4. Get Your Pet Used to Being on the Water

Taking a trip to a beach, lake or ocean can be a fun experience for your pet. If you’re planning to travel with your pet to a place that offers water activities, it is best to get them used to being on the water in advance so they can enjoy their vacation as much as you do.

Before you travel, make sure your pet’s leash and collar are up to date, and take a copy of their health records. You may also want to bring a pet carrier, poop bags, a brush, pet first aid supplies, a collapsible bowl, and a towel for your pet to sleep on.

If your pet will be traveling in the cargo hold, purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that they can stand up and turn around in. Make sure the crate is marked with your name, phone number and destination in case your pet gets lost during transport. It is also helpful to freeze a dish of water in the crate to give your pet something to drink on layovers.

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