Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
Having just returned from the BlogPaws 2014 Conference in Nevada I can tell you many of our attendees made the trips with their fur-kids. While I didn’t speak to all of them to see how they’d planned for the trip and prepared their pet to make the journey with them, I know from personal experience (I’ve driven from NY to AZ four times with Henrietta as my co-pilot) that it takes planning and preparation — especially if you are the only other human making the trip.
I know I couldn’t ever put Henrietta in a kennel for boarding — the high amounts of stress she has simply from going for a grooming let me know that would not be a good situation for her. If I can’t find a family member to come to the house and stay with her, along she goes with me. She is an excellent traveling companion: never barks in public (she barks a LOT at home), fits into a purse if I have to go into a store and take her with me and she doesn’t mind her car seatbelt — all pluses.
I’d love to hear if you have other tips, tricks or hints I may have missed.
Here are my pet traveling tips:
- Whether you’re driving or flying, make certain your pet — dog, cat or ferret — has some sort of collar or tag or identifier in case she escapes
- Ask your vet to print you out a current document showing all of your pets’ vaccinations. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are all up to date before you set out. You may also want to get a well-pet check if you’re taking a long road trip. As we learned in a BlogPaws 2014 session, you can’t always tell if your pet is healthy just by looking at him.
- You need a way to secure your pet in the vehicle. Look around for pet safety harnesses or secure her in a pet carrier. Never let your dog sit on your lap while you’re driving. I am also not a fan of letting a dog stick his head out the window because dirt or dust or even a bug could hit him in the face or hurt his eyes.
- NEVER leave your pet alone in the car. I have seen people leave their pets alone in a car that is running — presumably with the air conditioner on — but it can only take a second for someone to smash your car window and steal your precious fur-kid. If you’re traveling alone you need to find a way to always take him into establishments with you, it isn’t always going to be easy but never risk your pet’s health by leaving him alone in a car.
- Don’t leave home without your pet’s favorite food, favorite toys and food and water dishes that she is comfortable with. Taking a road trip can be a stressful event and having items that remind your pet of home will ease her stress. Additionally, changing food or even feeding time could lead to “tummy rumbling” and bathroom issues.
- Make certain you carry fresh water with you. When I travel I freeze bottles of water then put them in a cooler in my car so I can make sure I have access to fresh water at all times for both Henrietta and me. Your pet can become quickly overheated and having quick access to a drink of water can help cool her down. I try to bring enough water from home, that Henrietta’s tummy is accustomed to because she’s gotten the tummy rumbles from unfamiliar tap water — yes, she is a Diva.
- Know the route you’re taking and know where you can stop for bathroom breaks and where you can easily find pet friendly accommodations. You will want to make frequent bathroom stops for your pet and you certainly don’t want to be on the road looking for a hotel and not finding one that will take your pet.
- If you’re flying, many people find it to be traumatic for their pet unless they are small enough to be in the cabin with them. Check with your airline to determine their specific rules for traveling with a pet and make sure you arrive early at the airport. It’s probably best to try and fly at a time when your pet won’t be subjected to extremes of hot or cold temperatures.
What will your pet do all day?
If you’re traveling for business or even a family vacation there may come a time when you need to go off to an area in which your pet will not be welcome, what will she do while you’re gone? There are several options you can consider, including:
- If she’s crate trained, put her in her crate in the hotel room, give her a treat that she is familiar with and go about your day. Check in often if possible.
- If you have to leave your pet in your hotel room, make certain the housekeeping staff doesn’t bother to come in and clean the room while you’re out.
- See if the hotel knows of a doggy day care that your pet could attend while you are unavailable.
- If your pet doesn’t do well left alone in unfamiliar surroundings, you likely already know that and are prepared to make him part of all of your vacation activities.
What to pack
Because I am an obsessive packer when it comes to my own travels and because I live by lists, I also have a list for Henrietta when I travel. I note what clothes to pack for her, what blankets and toys, her food, any medications, her car seat belt, a window shade, treats, her leash, collar, dog tags, vaccination records and anything in particular you feel necessary for your road trip with Fido.
Curious about cats: I’ve never traveled with a cat other than to the veterinarians office (and they howl the entire five mile trip!) so I don’t have deep insight into this, but assume it is close to the same type of planning and coordination although I imagine you’d need to pack a litter box and find a safe, secluded area in which you could take your cat out of her crate and allow her to use a litter box. Has anyone traveled with cats that can weigh in? I’d be interested to hear what goes into a road trip with a kitty.