By Vanessa Davis, owner Dirty Dogs Spa, Wake Forest.
Traveling with pets is becoming more and more popular. Today’s dogs and even some cats are vacationing, thanks to friendlier airlines, safety innovations, pet-friendly hotels, resorts and campgrounds, and restaurants with outdoor dining privileges.
Here are a few tips to aid in a more pleasant travel experience with our furry family members.
Traveling by plane in most cases is safe for your pet if your vet gives the OK. Animals accustomed to traveling in a car, going out on walks, and who are socialized tend to travel very well, depending on their personalities.
Traveling internationally or even crossing state lines in a plane requires a health certificate from your vet. Additional ways to prepare: Make sure vaccines (especially rabies) are up to date and that your dog has an ID collar with a tag or even a microchip.
Traveling with a service dog or a support dog that will be inside the plane cabin? Make sure that you contact the airlines at least 90 days in advance to allow enough time to secure the proper documentation needed by your travel date.
The trend nowadays is against sedation unless significant risks for pet injury exist. Sedation can cause the pet to feel unstable and cause more fear. Cats tend to fly pretty well because they are usually allowed in the cabin in a cat carrier under the seat.
Preparations for international travel with pets can be complex and may require extensive planning. Double check with the airlines and your destination’s consulate to make sure you have the most up-to-date information about the papers you are required to bring.
Many documents for international travel require the signature of a certified USDA veterinarian, which adds a step. Pet travel companies, like www.travelpets.com, remove a lot of the guesswork. It’s very tedious to have to do the work yourself. You would have to start six months ahead of time.
Traveling by car is of course the easiest, but still requires a bit of planning for longer trips. Have your dog always wear a specially designed dog seat belt or dog car harness in front and back seats. This can prevent any accidents that he may cause you as well as sustaining any injuries if there is an accident.
Always ensure adequate ventilation. Never let your dog put its head outside the window, as this can lead to ear and eye injuries.
For cats, provide a good carrier, a place to sleep and a safe place for the litter box. Make sure they cannot escape if the doors or windows accidentally open.
Some innovative products make boating and sailing with your dog reasonably safe. There are dog life vests; if they do fall overboard, you can pull them up. Dogs can also use puppy pads and artificial turf products for elimination. Your pet can get acclimated fairly easily, but work on that well ahead of time.
For any type of travel, make sure your pet is well-groomed (not itchy or dirty). Take along some comforts of home – bed, blanket, toys and litter box. Rather than buying new types of food, carry your pet’s familiar food from home when practical. Carriers should be big enough for standing and turning around, with room for food and water. Place absorbent towels on the carrier floor in case of accidents. Have a pet first aid kit for emergencies.
Always be prepared and have safe travel.