Vacation planning can get really stressful. There is so much to think about, that we often overlook some of the most important details. Especially when we’re traveling with pets. Before you load the pets into the car, consider some of these tips.
Animals are like people, with distinct personalities and temperaments. If your pet is easily upset by changes in their routine, you might want to consider having a friend or family member care for them at home. If this is not a possibility, make sure during your trip to stick as close to the animal’s normal routine as possible. You might also want to pack a couple of favorite toys or pillows to add more familiarity. You might consider a sweater, as well, just in case they have to be separated from you for a bit while using public transportation. Having something with your scent on it will help with any separation issues.
The first thing that should be on your agenda when planning your trip with a pet is a visit to the Veterinarian. The vet can prescribe medications that can help keep your pet calm during travel, as well check for any problems that may need to be dealt with first. You can also refill any medications they are already on so you’ll have enough to take along with you. Getting current on their shots is also important, especially if you are using a form of public transportation or you are crossing state/country borders. Don’t leave the vet’s office without checking into one more thing: microchips. Microchips are quick and easy to implant, done with a needle right there in the vet’s office. Most of the time, the animal doesn’t even know anything is happening. Implanting one of these into your dog or cat will greatly increase your chances of getting your pet back if they get loose. The microchip includes your pet’s name, vet information, medical information and other important facts. When a lost animal is brought into a shelter or vet office, they are scanned with a hand-held scanner that pulls up all the
information. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to mail in the forms you will need to fill out to make the chip active. Also, don’t forget to ask your vet if they have any recommendations in case your pet finds itself in need of care while out of town. If your vet cannot help you, make sure to look up that information yourself. Thanks to the internet, you should not have any trouble finding listings. You are not done yet. Before leaving the Vet, make sure you ask about Heartworm prevention and flea/tick protection. This is more than just a good idea, in some places it is required to protect the local animal population. Now, you are ready to move on to the next phase of trip planning: shelter.
Anyone who has moved with a pet knows that finding a place that will accept your pets can be difficult. Your vet can be a good source of information for places that allow pets. Some will also board your animals just in case you have decided to leave them at home. Another great resource is petswelcome.com. It has listings for pet-friendly hotels, beaches and parks. You can also exchange ideas with other pet owners through their message board or read about international animal policies.
Your best bet when traveling with pets is to go by car or plane. Many bus and train companies do not allow animals at all. If you do go by car, take a hint from the sites out there and get a special harness to secure your dog in the car. Also, make sure you have the dog’s harness or leash readily available, as your dog will need an occasional pit stops to get out and take a short walk. Cat carriers are another essential item for your check list. If you travel by plane, make sure you discuss their policies regarding pets in advance so there are no surprises.
No place recommends this, but if you absolutely must leave your dog in the car for any reason, make sure it is for a very short amount of time and leave a couple of windows open a little bit and park in the shade to keep them cool. Many animals (and kids) die each year from being left in a car that was too hot.
As with any trip, you do not want to wait too long to make these plans. If you pets had to get shots, some places require you to do it in a certain time frame before your arrival. You also do not want to find yourself without a place to stay during part or all of your trip because you waited too long to reserve a room at a pet-friendly place. Following these simple travel tips will ensure a safe and pleasant trip for you and your pets, wherever you decide to go.