You’re going on vacation! What could be better than taking your four-legged family member on your adventure? But traveling can be very stressful, both for you and your pets. Planning before the trip is essential to help ensure a pleasant experience for you and your pet.
Consider Microchipping Before Traveling With Pets
Pets without microchips return home at an alarmingly small percentage. In a sample group of 7,700 pets, only 21.9% of dogs and 1.8% of cats return to their families. Dogs with microchips were returned 52.2% of the time, while cats returned home at a 38.5% rate. Don’t forget to register your pet! If your pet is already microchipped, make sure all registered information is accurate and up-to-date.
Bring Two Forms of Identification
On top of microchipping, make sure your pet wears a collar and tag imprinted with your name, phone number, and any other relevant contact information. When traveling, it’s a good idea to include a temporary travel tag with your cell phone and destination phone number for the duration of your trip.
Keep Vaccination Records On Hand
Make sure that you also have your pets vaccination records, including proof of rabies vaccination. While this isn’t generally an issue, some states require this proof at certain interstate crossings.
Secure Your Pet(s)
Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. Whether wire mesh, hard plastic or a soft-sided carrier, make sure it’s large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in, easily. If your pet is not already comfortable with being in a crate or carrier get him/her used to the carrier in your home, before the trip.
Accustom your pet to riding in the car by taking them on a few short drives first. From there, gradually lengthen the time of each trip. Be sure to always secure the crate so it won’t slide or shift in the event of a quick stop. Additionally, If you will not be using a carrier, don’t allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window, and always keep him/her in the back seat in a harness attached to a seat buckle.
Never Leave Your Pet Alone in a Parked Vehicle
On a hot day, even with the windows open a parked vehicle can become a furnace in no time and heatstroke can quickly occur. In cold weather your vehicle can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing your pet to freeze to death.
Pack Your Pet’s “Suitcase” Too!
In addition to your pet’s vaccination records bring his food, water & food bowls, leash, waste pick-up bags, any medications and a pet first-aid kit. Don’t forget to bring a favorite toy or pillow to help your pet feel safe & secure.
Bring Water for Your Pet
Drinking water from an unfamiliar area might cause an upset stomach. Carry bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs.
Maintain Control at All Times
When exiting your vehicle, make sure that you always leash your pet before opening the car door. Your pet will be excited to get out and stretch his/her legs and when in a strange and/or busy environment, he/she can become frightened and run off into traffic.
Happy and safe travels to you and your pet!
For more on traveling with pets, check out our blog from Top Dog Tips about Traveling with Dogs.
Renee Jones, CPDT-KSA is a certified professional dog trainer, having received instruction from canine behaviorist Dr. Pamela Reid, plus nationally acclaimed trainers: Patricia McConnell, Pia Silvani, and Jean Donaldson, to name a few. She is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). She serves as a Pet Marketing and Canine Specialist for Jeffers Pet and JeffersPet.com.
Questions about this article, training, or non-emergent health concerns are welcome. Renee can be reached most weekdays (M-F) from 9 AM – 5 PM (Central Time) at 1-800-533-3377 (1-800-JEFFERS) ext. 381 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.