The winter break and holiday season is traditionally filled with travel, family time, and fun. As our dogs are an important part of the family, it’s no surprise that we wouldn’t want to leave them behind. But traveling with pets isn’t a simple venture. There are important things you must keep in mind to make sure the trip is enjoyable for everyone when you take Fido on the road for your winter vacations.
Dr. Kristen Andrews, an expert veterinarian, has highlighted the preparation tips and must-dos for the trip that are important when considering taking your pup along for the ride. Following Andrews’ advice will ensure that your family and pup will have a great holiday vacation.
Things to consider before traveling with your pet
Is my pet welcome where I will be traveling?
There are increasingly more and more places that are pet-friendly and cater to families with pets, but not every place will appreciate your furry friend. Check ahead with all the places you will be staying and ensure that they are pet-friendly. Sites such as Bring Fido and Go Pet Friendly and will help you not only find pet-friendly lodging, but also stores, restaurants, attractions, and events.
If you will be staying with friends or family, always ask ahead of time if your pet is welcome. They may have allergies, they may have other pets that won’t appreciate you bringing your dog or cat along, or they may just not want your pets at their home during the holidays. It’s better to find out before you travel that your pet is not welcome so you can make alternate plans or keep them home, rather than find out after you arrive.
Is my pet fit to travel?
There are many factors to consider before taking a long car ride or plane ride with your pet. Do they enjoy being in the car or are they quite distressed during travel? Do they get carsick? Do they have medical problems that could be worsened with travel such as a pet with arthritis being in a crate for long periods of time, or a pet with a heart condition that could worsen with stress? Sometimes what’s best for our pets is not to take that trip with us.
Will my pet need a health certificate to travel?
Most airlines, international border crossings, and even some states have very specific pet travel requirements, which may include health certificates, acclimation certificates, vaccinations, or other documents. Contact your airline before booking to find out what your pet will be required to have. If traveling abroad or outside the continental US (Hawaii for example), you should contact the Consulate or Embassy in that country to find out their regulations. Sites such as Pet Travel and Pet Travel Center and assist you.
Steps to take before hitting the road
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian several weeks in advance.
Your vet can help make sure your pet has had all vaccines, prescription medication refills, and parasite prevention that will be needed before heading on the road. If your pet needs something to help calm them during travel, your veterinarian can also discuss options with you at this time. You can also discuss any health certificates needed for travel with your veterinarian. Your vet can also help you get copies of your pet’s medical records to carry with you, including current vaccine history and any medications they are on.
Make sure you have proper identification on and for your pet.
Have 2 tags on your pet’s collar, one that includes your name, address, and your phone number. The second is for travel and should include the address and phone number for where you are staying as well as your cell phone number where you can be reached. Have your pet microchipped before travel and make sure all information is up to date. Also, bring along a current photo of your pet in case they run off.
Pack a travel kit for your pet.
Be sure to include collar, harness, leash, food and water, treats, no-spill food and water dishes, toys, bed or blankets, and all medications. Be sure to pack enough supplies to last the entire trip, plus extra just in case. Prepare a first aid kit for your pet. The AVMA has a great list of supplies to help you prepare a first aid kit for your pets. This is very helpful for any mishaps with your furry family members and highly recommended.
Ways to make the trip enjoyable for your pet
Make sure to take plenty of breaks during a road trip.
Allow your pet get out and stretch, go potty, and drink some water. Plan to stop every 2-3 hours while on the road and keep them on a leash at all times.
Use a crate to safely secure your pet.
It is safer for them and safer for you. In fact, this is the safest way for your pet to travel in the car You can provide a comfy bed or blanket in it as well as their favorite toy to make the trip more enjoyable. . It also gives them a nice place to hide and feel secure when you reach your destination.
Don’t feed your pet a big meal.
Don’t feed your pet a lot of food right before or during travel. Instead, bring some snacks and healthy dog treats to give them at rest stops.
Dr. Andrews has shown that paying attention to detail when preparing for travel with your pet is an important consideration. Use these preparation tips for your next holiday trip and you’ll be sure to enjoy the holiday season with your favorite dog.