Whether traveling by car or plane, pet owners need to consider all their options when it comes to deciding whether or not to travel with their pets.
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Americans spend more than $38 billion a year on their pets – and the travel industry has taken notice. Hotels and kennels are rolling out the red carpet to four-legged clientele. Plush beds, gourmet biscuits, aromatherapy, and massage therapy are becoming more common.
For pet owners considering a kennel, Dr. Jeff Werber, an Emmy award-winning animal health reporter and nationally respected veterinarian, suggests asking what veterinary services are available and whether the kennel requires pets to be current on their vaccinations. Also, make sure your pet is flea-free. Protection from a potential flea infestation can save your pet a lot of discomforts and you a lot of headaches.
“I recommend using a product monthly such as Advantage or K9 Advantix for dogs only, to control these pesky critters, especially before boarding your pet,” Werber says.
Winter doesn’t mean fleas go into hibernation. Temperate climates, or warm homes, allow fleas to continue producing eggs throughout winter. And don’t forget, there may be parasites at your vacation destination. These are just two reasons why year-round flea control is recommended by the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
For some, a trip is no fun without their four-legged companion. If traveling with your pet, don’t forget to pack vaccination records, food, bowl, leash, a waste scoop, grooming supplies, and medication, as well as a favorite toy to give your pet a sense of familiarity.
To familiarize yourself with pet travel requirements, Werber suggests asking the airline a few questions, such as:
- Can your small pet board with you?
- Do they have restrictions on transporting pets as cargo?
- Are there special health and immunization requirements?
Affix a label to your pet’s carrier with your permanent and final destination contact information. Do not feed your pet for four to six hours prior to travel. Put ice cubes in the carrier’s water tray – a full water bowl can spill and cause discomfort during the flight.
Make sure to have the following prepared for your trip with your pet
• Make sure your pets have proper identification on them at all times.
• Bring a list of Emergency Veterinary Clinics in the area to which you’re headed.
• In order to avoid surprises, call ahead and find out if there are extra charges for your pet to stay in your hotel room.
• Bring a first aid kit, plenty of fresh water, food, and medications if required.
• Perform a daily “health check” on your pet when away from home. In unfamiliar surroundings, your pet’s appetite, energy, disposition, and even allergies may change.
• Stick to your regular feeding routine.
• Keep your pet within sight and on a leash.
• Obey all leash laws and make certain to keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier at all times when not securely in a room.
• If your dog or cat is not used to being on a leash and walking with someone, start getting them ready by practicing long before the trip.
• Always clean up after your pet. Likewise, it’s a good idea to pack a supply of plastic bags.
• Before you leave clip your pet’s nails. Pets with freshly-trimmed nails will be less likely to damage items in strange surroundings and will be easier to restrain if necessary.
• If your pet has fleas, obtain and complete the necessary treatment before traveling to avoid infesting its new surroundings.
• If your pet has not traveled before, try a short overnight or weekend trip first.
• Pets tend to shed more when traveling, so it’s a good idea to keep a lint brush handy for clothing or car seats.
• Take along photos of your pet. In case of the worst scenario and your pet becomes lost, you will be able to show photos to those helping in the search.
• Be sure to take some things that are familiar to your pet, such as a favorite blanket, toy as well as their regular treats to help him be comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.
• Keep your pet in a carrier when traveling by car. Make sure the carrier is in a secure, safe place.
• If you don’t have your dog in a carrier put a harness seat belt on him.
• Keep proper identification and photo attached to your pet’s crate.
• Don’t leave your pets in a hot car. If this is unavoidable leave your pets at home.
• If your pet gets motion sickness, try to give him as much cool air as possible. Other remedies to try are ginger ale (also works for humans) or ginger candy. Also, consider travel-sickness pills.
• Consider speaking with your veterinarian about tranquilizers if you think they are needed.
• Check pet shops for travel water bowls that have a lid that prevents spilling while moving.
• Bring a small cooler with ice will keep your pet with a steady water supply while the ice melts.
• Since pets tend to drink more while traveling, it’s important to take plenty of litter when traveling with your cat. Use the same brand as you do at home.
• When traveling by air check with your airline for carrier requirements, vaccination requirements, and other rules and regulations.
• Rabies vaccinations are a must for traveling abroad, and for returning to the United States, and even a good idea when on a road trip.
• Check with the airlines when flying. Most will allow a pet small enough to fit under the seat in front (in a kennel, of course) to fly inside the cabin with you.
• Don’t send your pet as cargo in hot weather, even if the airline says they will take them (and most won’t).
• Try to avoid crowded (rush hour) conditions in airports, train and bus stations, since the crowds will only make your pet nervous.
• Book a direct flight whenever possible.
• Be honest about your pet’s ability to travel. If your pet is very young or old, or is ill, pregnant, or recovering from surgery, it may be better for all concerned to look into a pet sitter or kennel rather than take a chance on injuring your pet by taking it with you. If you are in doubt, ask your veterinarian.