Foolproof Tips for Road-Tripping with Pets
Is it normal to take pets on vacation? If you are anything like me, the answer is a resounding "Yes!" Years ago, I realized I missed my animals so much while traveling that on our next vacation we decided we’d take at least one with us. (We have five cats, two guinea pigs, and a bearded dragon.) Thus a family tradition of traveling with pets was born.
Just this summer we went away with our cat, Widget, and our bearded dragon, Gravos, which takes some doing considering there are also two teenage boys and a husband to get in the car. But as a family we've reached the perfect compromise--since there isn't enough room to fit us all in, my husband rides alongside on a motorcycle.
The Long History of Traveling with Pets
Traveling with Pets Today
- Before setting off, make sure your pet is up-to-date with her vaccinations, and get her checked out by a vet. You don't want any nasty health surprises while in transit. If your pet takes medication, make sure you have enough for the entire trip, and also take a copy of her medical records along with you.
- Check with your vet about the risks posed by different regional disease threats, such as Lyme's disease, and what you can do to prevent them. Likewise, if your pet gets motion sickness, ask about one of the excellent non-drowsy anti-nausea medications that are available.
- Make sure the traveling animal is safely restrained, such as in a crash-tested crate for a dog, which provides a safety cocoon in the event of an accident. Likewise, never leave a cat loose in the car; always use a cat carrier or a pet seat harness. In the event of an emergency stop, an unrestrained cat becomes a high-speed missile that could seriously injure both herself and you.
- To keep an anxious pet calm and relaxed in transit, consider using one of the pheromone sprays designed to help calm dogs or cats. These are a synthetic version of the chemical that a nursing mother gives off that makes her puppies or kittens feel safe and secure. Simply spritz a favorite blanket with this nonprescription product to help reduce travel-induced anxiety.
- If you are planning a long trip, be sure to book pet-friendly accommodations or a campsite that welcomes animals (not all do). For everyone's comfort, stop at least every four hours and give the pet a chance to drink and stretch her legs. Of course it is essential that your pet's ID details be current, just in case your dog runs off and gets lost in unfamiliar surroundings.
Planning is the Key to Safe and Happy Travels with Your Pet
About the author: Pippa Elliott is a veterinarian with 27 years of experience, a freelance writer, and an all-around animal nut. The proud owner of five cats, two guinea pigs, and a bearded dragon, she is never happier than while writing with a cat on her lap.
« End of box »