As spring is waning and the summer months are approaching, many travelers are opting for the economical transportation of traveling by car to their summer vacations. Those travelers with pets decide to either leave their pets attended by others at home or in a kennel, or decide to travel with their beloved companions. Some pets are willing and excited travelers while others may liken their driving experiences only to the dreaded vet’s visit. Whichever applies to your pet’s proclivity for traveling, here are a few tried and helpful tips for making traveling with pets an enjoyable experience for all.
It is estimated that there are over 150 million cats and dogs in the United States, and many people have millions of other pets, such as birds and horses. For the purpose of this discussion on pet travel tips, cats and dogs are the focus. Other pets, such as horses, need their own unique transportation systems and arrangements. In a recent survey of 6,000 pet owners, over sixty percent of the owners had plans to travel with their pets this year to places over fifty miles away from their homes. With so many pets and owners traveling together, here are some proven strategies for peaceful traveling.
1. Practice Traveling: If you have only transported your cat or dog to the vet’s office, then having several small trips planned before the vacation travel will prove beneficial. The pet gets used to being in the car for purposes other than medical, and you have the opportunity to make car traveling fun and stress-free.
2. Never Leave Your Pet Alone in A Car: Every year many owners leave their pets in the car while they go shopping or eat at a restaurant. Dogs and cats have different temperature systems than humans and cannot stand prolonged heat. Within a few minutes of summer heat in a parked car, temperatures can rise to over 100 degrees which is enough to cause severe physically stress your pet, and perhaps even cause death.
3. Feed Before Traveling: To help prevent car sickness, feed your pet four to six hours before leaving for the trip so digestion can take place. If you feed your pet at night, wait until your pet is done riding in the car for the night and then feed.
4. Hydrate: Just as humans need to be hydrated during traveling, pets have this need as well. Bring along a folding water bowl that can easily be filled with bottled water when you make stops. Do not try to give your pet water in the car or they might hurt themselves drinking while the car is moving.
5. Include Frequent Breaks: Dogs and cats need walking and bathroom breaks approximately every two hours during a car trip. Be sure to bring a leash for your pet as many states will fine you for having an unleashed pet. Put the leash on before you open the car door to ensure that your pet will be safe from harm or running away. Always keep your pet under control and away from strangers.
6. Use A Restraint System: Most pet owners will use a pet carrier or crate in the back of their car, but there are also a host of restraints and harnesses that can be employed for pet safety. Never put your pet into the back of an open car or truck as this practice is illegal in many states and can leave your pet open to being thrown out of the back or strangled if restrained.
7. Keep Heads Inside: Although many pets like to put their heads out an open window, this is a very dangerous practice. The eyes and ears of pets are delicate and unprotected, and they can be severely damaged by road debris and flying dirt or stones. In addition, your pet is at a greater risk for injury if they have their head out the window and the car has to stop suddenly or is struck by another car.
8. Stay Calm: Your pet has an inexplicable attachment to you and their family. If you are anxious, your pet will decipher that anxiety and become anxious, too. Even in the worst of situations, such as experiencing a car breakdown, having you remain calm may be the best thing to do for ensuring your pet enjoy their travels
9. Bring A Favorite Toy: Just as you may want to bring your snorkeling equipment with you on vacation, your pet may also want their favorite Frisbee or toy mouse for play. The fact that the toy will smell like home and be associated with fun and play will make it all the better.
10. End With A Reward: Your pet wants to know that they pleased you during the traveling, so make sure you end the trip with a reward such as a nice walk, a biscuit, a play time outside, or a good game of throwing a tennis ball.
11. Wear Identification: Thousands of pets every year are lost on their vacation trips with only a fraction of these retrieved and placed again with their original owners. Most lost pets end up in animal shelters. Be sure your pet has a collar, pet identification tag that includes your address and cell number, and information about their identification microchip, if applicable.