Commitment to Care: Holiday Travel with Your Pets

As the holidays quickly approach families will be hitting the road or friendly sky to be with loved ones.  This also included bringing furry family members along also.  Whether you are flying or driving the key to a great trip is preplanning in advance.  Traveling is more than hopping in the back seat or heading to the airport and off you go. To make traveling with your pets less stressful and more comfortable for everyone I have some tips that will help you.

Crate or Carrier– Most importantly your pet will need a carrier that he/she can stand, sit, lie down, and turn around in.  Your pet needs to be completely comfortable with their carrier, this is their “safe place” while traveling. You need to start this at home.  Leave the carrier out, let your pet go in and out as they please, give then treats and even feed them in their carrier.  DO NOT close the door of the carrier if they are just learning about it.  After a few days to weeks, you will see that they will be sleeping in there and that will become their quiet spot.  At this point you can start to shut the door and then open it.  Never do this for too long just a few seconds at first then gradually keep it closed for longer periods of time.  When they are comfortable with the door closed, you can then start to lift the carrier and move it around a bit.  Again, not long at first and gradually work on walking outside, placing the carrier in the car, and taking short car rides.

Trip to the veterinarian’s office– It is always a good idea to have a copy of your pet’s vaccines with you, especially proof of rabies vaccine.   Make sure your pet’s vaccines are up to date a couple weeks before traveling.  You may need a health certificate depending on where you are traveling too.  Your veterinarian can also prescribe your pet a mild sedative that will make him/her calmer if their anxiety is high.  Now is the time to ask your veterinarian to implant a microchip if your pet doesn’t have one already.  If your pet already has a microchip, then now is the time to call the microchip company to make sure the information they have is up to date.

Food and Water­- You want to pack your pet’s regular food; you don’t want to pick something up when you arrive at your destination because switching diets abruptly will cause GI upset and your pet is already stressed about being out of his/her place.  You also want to feed your pet a very light meal 4 to 5 hours prior to traveling.  You don’t want to feed them in a moving vehicle.  Always feed when you stop for the night or when you reach your destination.  I also recommend packing a few bottles of water because drinking water from an area your pet is not used to could also cause GI upset.

Toys, bed, leash, microchip etc.– Pets can get a bit stressed out when they are not in their “place”.  Bring some comforts from home with you while you travel.  For example, your pet’s favorite bed, blanket, and toys, even a litterbox so they have a few familiar items.  Make sure you have easy access to all these items while traveling.  You also want to make sure you have a leash and proper fitting collar or harness for your pets.  Have updated ID tags on and make sure they are microchipped, and the information is updated.  Should your pet be separated from you they will have ways to identify him/her and get them home.

Pet Travel Essentials List

  1. Toys and bedding
  2. Litter box, litter, and little bags
  3. Leash, collar and or harness, ID tag and microchip
  4. Crate or carrier
  5. Food, bottled water, treats
  6. Bowls
  7. Medication and medical records, health certificate

Now you are all ready to hit the road or the friendly skies with your pets and have the best time creating memories with your furry family members.