Safety Tips When Traveling with Your Pet

By Katie Griffith,

The best solution to holiday stress is leaving your furry family members in the comfort of their own home with a professional pet sitter, but if your mind has been made up to take your pet with you, follow some basic rules of thumb to make the entire event as enjoyable as possible. Traveling in the car and taking a short plane ride to see the family in Nantucket should never be stressful.

Traveling by Car

Traveling in the car can be a relaxing way to enjoy all the scenic beauty nature has to offer while it allows you the opportunity to stop and enjoy the fresh air along the way with your pup. A little preparation for a long road trip will make your overall trip more enjoyable and less stressful.

Start by planning ahead: Practice for a long trip by taking several small trips to the store or the park, to get your dog into a routine, with the idea that going places in the car is something fun. Animals pick up on tension, stress, and anxiety so it's best to keep it lighthearted, offering praise and small treats for good behavior. Clear your mind and focus on the fun trip you are going to have.

Put off feeding your pet for a few hours right before leaving on a long trip to avoid car sickness or something more serious like bloat. Fresh water is essential to have on hand for any trip. Try freezing your pup’s water in a plastic or metal bottle so there will always be fresh cold water available when needed.

Crates and seat harnesses provide security for your pet depending upon which mode of transportation you’re using. Most pets love traveling and find the wind blowing through their hair exhilarating and down right energizing. Having your animal harnessed or crated will keep your animal safe during any sudden stops, will ease unloading from the car when you arrive at your destination, and it will also give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on the road so you won't have to worry what Fluffy might be getting into.

Traveling by Air

Most airlines will allow you to carry on a small crate that will fit beneath the seat so your dog can be part of your flying experience. There is a fee, so contact the airline ahead of time to find out their current rates. It's always best to compare prices of the different airlines and to check out what pet amenities they offer your furry friend.

Larger dogs are required to fly in secure travel crates in the pressurized cargo area, and this can be a potentially scary experience for animals. Prepare ahead of time by crate-training your animal. This can be done by using the crate at home when you leave for short periods of time throughout the day, and at night. Ensure that the crate is large enough for the animal to comfortably stand and turn around in. Make the crate cozy with a blanket or two, and place favorite toys inside. Offer ample rewards to the pet for voluntarily going into the crate and for quiet behavior while crated.

Be prepared to remove your animal from the pet carrier when you arrive at your destination. Be sure to have a harness or leash at hand and a supply of waste disposal bags.

If your destination is another country, you will need to go through Customs. Be prepared to produce any required documentation for your pet upon arrival. Always be sure to consult your pet’s regular veterinarian well in advance of any foreign travel to find out what limitations are imposed, if any, and to obtain all required documentation.

During the holidays investigate and take into account what pet-friendly services will be available at your destination. There are many hotels and motels that welcome pets, additionally there may be local pet sitting services available to allow you the freedom to leave your pets in trustworthy hands while you go off and enjoy yourself.

These are all important considerations to take into account when you travel with your pet. Explore the options and weigh your decision. The best option may be to leave your pet at home with a reputable pet sitting service, but traveling with your pet doesn't have to be a nightmare. The best insurance is to plan ahead and be prepared.

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