Taking a pet on a vacation or a trip can be a great adventure for you and your animals. Before you go, consider these preparations before heading off (especially if you’re traveling with very young or senior pets). Apart from the general bookings, you should also take some time to familiarize your pet to travel procedures as much as possible. Leave their carrier or travel crate sitting open for a few days before your trip so they can get used to the smell and so they don’t get nervous when it’s time to get into it. When packing, include some of their favorite things, such as a blanket or special toy, along with the essentials. This guide will introduce you to traveling safely with your pet by ground, air, and sea.
Traveling with a pet by car is usually the best option for most people since it allows them to stay close to the animal and keep a constant watch on them. Feed your pet a couple of hours before leaving instead of just before. This will give them sufficient time to digest their food and reduce car sickness. For dogs, take them for a long walk before the drive to tire them out. If they are tired, they will be more likely to nap and be relaxed in the car. Other animals should also have a chance to have a potty break before leaving. Always keep your pet’s medical records easily accessible, along with their feeding bowls, leash, toys, food, medication, and other necessities. If it is a long drive, stop every two to three hours to let them have a potty break and some water. Always keep your pet secure with a proper pet barrier or crate. It is dangerous to let them hang their heads out of the window on the highway, as they could be hit by airborne debris.
Always thoroughly research the airline before booking your pet on board. Some airlines are notorious for losing pets or otherwise not handling them carefully enough. Ensure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and they have all of their records and tags available. If the animal is small enough, opt to carry your pet inside the airplane cabin with you. Make sure your pet is old enough (at least eight weeks old) and healthy enough before considering airplane travel. There should only be one pet per crate or kennel, and the animal as well as its container should be clearly marked with your name, address, and phone number.
Some cruise ships do let you bring pets on board. It is best to check with the company ahead of time and find out what facilities they offer. On a short boating trip, put a life jacket on your pet or make sure there’s a secure place for your pet to stay during the trip. If you are transporting pets abroad, check the entry requirements for animals ahead of time and be prepared to show the pet’s medical records upon request. International travel sometimes requires a quarantine period for your pet for weeks or months before your trip, so do your research well in advance. As with other transportation options, make sure that the animal has everything required including food, drink, shelter, and small comforts from home.
There are a large number of hotels, motels, and campgrounds across the U.S. that are pet-friendly. Do Double-check before making a booking and ask if they need any specific documentation on your part. Ask if there are any breed or size restrictions as well. At the hotel, make sure that your pet is properly cared for. Clean up any waste matter and dispose of it properly. If you are heading out without your pet, it is best to keep your pet crated to prevent destruction of the hotel room. Leave a radio or TV on at low volumes to provide some background noise for your pet.
Pet insurance offers plenty of peace of mind if you are a pet owner on the go. Before traveling with your pet, look for an insurance plan that offers accident coverage, as well as straying or theft coverage. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and compare plans. To understand the information in layman’s terms, ask the insurance agent to explain how they would help under various situations. For example, you might ask, “How would you help me if my pet was lost/stolen/hit by a car/etc.”
Apart from the information outlined above, there are a few more things to consider. Keep some emergency veterinary contacts on hand in case of any unexpected illnesses or injuries along your trip. Print out a checklist to ensure that you have everything covered before leaving. The following links will provide some further information for a happy and safe trip with your pet!
Author: Jim Tedford
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