Some furry friends really love riding in cars. They jump for joy when they hear you grab your car keys, and they are thrilled to hang out the window and taste the world as it flies by.
Other pets not so much. Some dogs and cats have a lower threshold for anxiety and would rather do anything than get in a car with you. They’re your best friend; when they’re scared and anxious you’re scared and anxious.
The idea of tucking them away in the dark noisy cargo hold of an airplane probably doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy either…
If you have to take your pet with you on a cross-country jaunt, how will the two of you get through it? Here are some tips that will make for a smoother ride for the both of you.
Decide Whether to Medicate
Regardless which mode of transportation you decide to go with, choosing whether to medicate your pet is a decision that you shouldn’t make lightly. Consult with your veterinarian and heed their advice. If they’ve treated your pet for very long, they know his or her temperament. Even if they are not as familiar with you and your pet, they are an excellent resource for knowledge of your dog’s breed and medical tendencies.
Most airlines will only board pets that are conscious and alert, so keep that in mind when choosing medication for flights. If you’re travelling by car and your pet is especially anxious, it could be worth it to make the trip into a big long nap. Talk to your vet about different sedation and comfort methods that are safe for your pet if they will be in the car for a long time. Also ask about and think about the best way to keep your dog on their normal eating and bathroom routines when travelling by car.
Bring a Piece of Home with You
Just as people do, pets long for familiarity when they’re away from their home. If they have a cosy pillow they like to cosy up next to on the couch, or play with the same treasured toy, bring it with on the journey. Include it in the kennel before boarding the plane, or set it up in the back seat to create a snug nest for your pet. The scent and familiarity will help to ease their stress. Even the most relaxed pup or kitty cat will enjoy a touch of home while on the move.
Get a Temporary ID Tag and Carry a Current Photo
Most people have their personal information attached to their furry friend’s collar for when they ever get lost. This is one of the easiest things you can do to make sure your little buddy finds his way back to you when you are at home, so why wouldn’t you do the same when you’re travelling?
Get a temporary ID tag with information about where you’ll be staying on your vacation. Secure it on their collar next to the permanent one with your name and home address. If they wander off ten states away from home, it could be the only hope of ever being reunited. If you’re like most pet parents, carrying a recent photo is not a stretch for you. Make sure to have one handy in case they go missing. As unpleasant the thought of losing your pet is, it’s even more likely to happen away from home, so you’ll need to be prepared for the worst.
Condition them to their Crate
Whether the journey is by car, airplane or boat, chances are your pooch will be in a crate or carrier for a portion of the trek. Sure, some pets are accustomed to this environment, especially if they sleep in their kennel at home. Others will be less than thrilled to find themselves in a confined area. Start conditioning them to feel comfortable with their kennel or carrier a few weeks to a month before the trip by having it out in common areas of the house. This way they get to sniff it, see it, lay in it and get accustomed to it before they have to travel in it.
Chances are if you’re going by car you have your route mapped out, or an idea of which GPS option you’ll pick before departing. Before heading out, plan where you will stop for potty breaks (or litter box scooping) and do your best to plan for various possible scenarios. A few things to certainly remember when it comes time to pack up the car are medical records for all passengers (two-legged or four), seat covers to make clean-up easier, a portable litter box (if travelling with a cat), toys, first aid kit, portable water/ food dishes, favourite pillow/blanket, medications and pet seatbelt harness. Always make sure you understand your auto insurance rates and coverage before heading out on a major trek too, as they can vary in different states.
Consider Finding the Most Direct Route
While especially important with airline flights, finding the most direct route on a road trip in a car is important too. Few stops make for a quicker expedition which is usually more desirable when travelling with a pet. Most airlines will not let pets out of crates during layovers, so try to cut down on time spent on runways or in terminals between layovers. It will make the extra money spent on a direct flight completely worth it to spare your pet (and yourself!) unnecessary layovers and traumatic airport loading procedures.
If your pet travels well it would be fun to work tourist stops into your itinerary. Depending on your pet, the short breaks for exercise could help ease their anxiety, or it could be better to just get where you’re going as fast as you can. You know your pet best, so use your best judgement in deciding how to plot your route.
Since travelling with pets is likely going to be traumatic for you and your pet alike, think long and hard before taking pets on long journeys. You may find it more practical to have a friend or neighbour care for Fido while you gallivant across the countryside. But if you’d like to take your pet to your destination and enjoy your vacation with your fur baby, great! Just be sure to plan ahead. Keep these tips in mind and travelling with your pet will be a cinch.
About the author:
Morgan Sims is a writer and recent graduate who loves all things tech and social media. When she’s not trying out new gadgets and tweeting she spends most of her time with her mini dachshund, cooking and staying active. Follow her on Twitter @MorganSims00.