Some pets make great travel companions. Here are some things to know about traveling with pets.
Most pet parents are quite familiar with that sad, puppy-dog look whenever they leave home and wave to their four-legged child as they head off to work.
We love our pets and want to bring them with us to places as much as they’d like to go—especially vacations. But is bringing our dogs and cats with us during travel a good idea?
Orange County Certified Professional Dog Trainer Kate Connell says it really depends on your pet’s temperament, physical health and the form of travel.
“Very young or very old pets, immune-compromised or physically challenged pets, and shy or aggressive pets would not make great travel companions,” she says. “Travel equals constant change, and while that can be fun and exciting for healthy, outgoing pets, it can be extremely stressful for pets who fall outside of that middle spot.”
But if you plan your trip wisely, those healthy, outgoing pets can make great travel companions, says Connell. She offers some advice to keep in mind when planning for a trip:
Pick pet-friendly forms of travel: “I do not recommend travel by plane during the hottest nor the coldest months of the year, as many pets overheat or freeze in the cargo hold,” she says. “Paying to take your pet in the cabin with you is an option for small pets on some airlines, but even if you have a large pet, you can book your pet a flight on PetAirways—the only pet-only airline—and avoid the danger of temperature fluctuations, loss of pressurization and getting lost among luggage.” She says while trains and buses in the United States often don’t allow pets, Amtrak does allow pets up to 20 pounds on trips that are seven hours or less, for a small fee. “Travel by boat would be dangerous for any animal not in a carrier as they could potentially slip, be injured by a boat rocked in a wave or they could fall overboard,” she says.
Protect them from getting lost: “The number one issue that arises when traveling with pets is pets getting lost,” says Connell. “It is critical to have your pet microchipped and have an ID on the collar with your cell phone number(s) and the address of where you will be staying. If you know you will have spotty reception where you’re traveling, it’s a great idea to provide your email address as well, so that you can at least stop in somewhere with WiFi to check it.” She adds to make sure your pet is familiar with and comfortable in their crate, and traveling in a vehicle. It’s also important that your dog is trained to wait at doors, including their crate, she says. Cats should only be allowed to come out of the crate once you are indoors at your destination, and not in the car, she says.
Try some ginger for stomach issues: “For stomach upset, it’s a good idea to bring several gallons of water with you when going on a road trip … to keep the water the same for your pup if they are very sensitive,” says Connell. “It’s also best not to feed table scraps or make any dietary changes during your trip. Talk to your vet about options for car sickness—although ginger snap cookies, such as the triple ginger cookies from Trader Joe’s, can help prevent car sickness in many dogs.” She says if your pet has a history of car sickness, however, it’s best to avoid traveling if possible.
Prep before you go: “You can keep your pet safe, comfortable and happy by taking basic training classes and acclimating them to their travel crate well ahead of time,” says Connell. “They will need to [be] comfortable being leashed regardless of species, and many countries require that dogs wear muzzles when in public. Teach your pet to wait calmly while you leash them before allowing them to exit their crate—make sure to clip the leash onto or near the crate so that it can’t get lost in the car. Practice with short car trips to new locations to see how they react to new environments with interesting sights, sounds, scents, people and animals. Besides food, water, treats and toys, bring a spare collar with ID, harness and leash, just in case one gets damaged or lost.”
Get an app: “Using an app such as BringFido can help you plan your trip and identify pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and activities—but be sure to call ahead to verify that the location is, in fact, pet-friendly,” she says.
By Jessica Peralta