5 min read
By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 12/31/2020, edited: 10/26/2022
Whether you have a canine compadre or a feline fur-baby, it's essential you keep your pet safe when traveling by plane, train, or automobile. This Pet Travel Safety Day on Jan 2, make a resolution to keep your pet safe while traveling in the new year. Here are our TOP 13 travel tips for pets and their parents.
The best way you can keep your four-legged friend safe on your next road trip is to use a pet crate or harness. Surprisingly, only 16% of Americans use dog restraints in their cars. With no restraint in place, your dog is free to roam around the car and distract you from driving. They're also in danger of injury if you brake hard or get into an accident.
Crates are often considered the best way to transport animals, as they keep your pet feel safe and stop them from being a distraction. If you plan on using a crate, ensure you secure it with a seatbelt so it doesn't shift during transit. Airlines always require pets to be in a USDA-approved crate when flying.
Pet parents using a crate while transporting their pet will want to ensure its spacious and secure. As a rule of thumb, your pet should be able to stand up, sit down, and turn around inside a crate without touching the sides.
The crate should also be secure to stop any budding escape artists from freeing themselves. You can ensure your chosen crate is up to the job by picking up a USDA-approved container, regardless of whether you're traveling by plane or car. This way, you can guarantee your crate is spacious, properly secured, and well-ventilated.
If you're driving cross-country, you might be tempted to feed your pet mid-journey. Feeding your dog or cat in a moving vehicle can be dangerous, as they may choke or get motion sickness.
Ideally, you should plan your pet's meals carefully, feeding them a small meal about 3 or 4 hours before traveling. This way, they won't get hungry during your transit and are less likely to get sick during your trip. You should also avoid feeding your pet right before flying, as this may cause sickness and bloating.
One of the cardinal rules of traveling in a car with a pet is not leaving them alone. Whether it's hot or cold outside, the consequences can be dire. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), heatstroke can kill an animal trapped in a car in 15 minutes. Additionally, temperatures during winter can plummet suddenly inside a vehicle, which could be dangerous over long periods.
While brachycephalic breeds and dogs with underlying health issues are more at risk, leaving your dog alone in a car is always dangerous and should be avoided at all times.
Keep your pet happy by letting them travel with their favorite comfort item. Whether it's a stuffed toy or soft blanket, a comfort item will go a long way to helping your animal get used to their surroundings. Their favorite toy or blanket will also help them cozy up for a nap or keep them distracted while your driving. Just avoid anything small and easily damaged, as your pet could chew off small chunks and choke.
If you're driving with your a doggo in tow, they may get restless and want to stick their head out of the window. While this may be fun for your pup and entertaining for passersby, it can be dangerous. Your dog could be leaning too far out of the car and get struck by another vehicle or signpost. There's also the risk that excitable pups may jump out of the window at high speeds, causing injury.
As well as causing a potential accident, letting your dog stick their head out of the window can cause long-term health issues. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states that letting your dog hang their head out of the window can cause lung infections and inner-ear damage.
When traveling with your pet, ensure you come prepared. All pet parents will want to put together a travel kit for their fur-baby so they have everything they need for a safe and comfortable journey. No two journeys are the same, meaning you may have to pack different things each time. Waste bags, poop scoops, medications, and water and food bowls are just a few examples of pet travel essentials.
You may need additional documentation when flying with a pet or driving across state lines. As a result, you'll want to bring along proof of vaccinations and any additional travel documentation you'll need for your end destination.
Pets may get confused or over-excited by new sights and smells, causing them to run off during your travels. Before setting out on your next adventure, get your dog a microchip and an identification collar just in case. This way, your pet can be identified by local authorities if they happen to get lost during your trip. An I.D. collar with your information and phone number will also help reunite you and your pet as quickly as possible.
When traveling with your pet, consider bringing along bottled water from home. Doing so may not cross many people's minds, but it can be important in keeping your dog healthy during your trip. Water across the U.S. contains different germs and bacteria, which could upset your pet's stomach if they're not acclimated. Consider bringing along plenty of bottled water so you don't have any unwelcome accidents during your road trip.
Nobody likes being stuck in a car for hours on end, and that goes double for pets. Whether you're traveling with a canine or feline, you may want to stop every once in a while to let them get some fresh air and drink some water. If you have a woofer, they'll undoubtedly want to get out and stretch their legs during your long drive. Luckily, you can find loads of dog-friendly parks dotted across the country where Fido can roam free.
The best way to keep your pet happy and healthy during your next expedition is to practice. If you're planning on traveling long-distance with your dog in tow, consider planning several much shorter trips to get your animal used to cars. By doing so, a lengthy drive won't be as stressful on your traveling fur-baby.
Another superb way to get your pet ready for traveling is with crate training. Some pets may associate crates with going to the vets, which will cause them plenty of anxiety. Leaving a crate around the house with a comfy blanket and some of your pet's favorite toys will slowly get them more comfortable with their new surroundings. You can also slowly increase the amount of time you leave your pet inside the crate, which will help them adjust on long trips.
If you have an elderly pet or a pet with a medical condition, you may want to book a check-up with your vet before traveling. This way, you can make sure your pet is healthy enough for any long trip. If you're planning to fly with your pet, most airlines require you to have a health certificate for your pet dated less than ten days before flying, as well as vaccination records. If you have any quick questions or queries, you can always contact a veterinary professional through Wag!.
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