Before traveling with your pet, first make sure your dog, cat, or other pet is welcome everywhere you want to go and begin vacation planning much farther out than you ordinarily might. Here are some more pet travel tips to keep in mind before you hit the road with your furry friend:
- Sticking to your pet’s normal routine during your travels can help reduce the animal’s stress and anxiety. Try to feed and walk your pet at the same time as you do at home.
- Bring adequate water in the car or with the kennel and bring enough of your pet’s preferred food as it might not be available everywhere.
- Always keep your pet on a leash or in crate when outside a vehicle – it’s too easy to become separated in a strange place.
- Use a carrier for all pets under 20 pounds, use a safety harness that clips to seat belts for all others. Check Petside if you need to find a good dog harness for the safe travel with your dog.
- Pets should have collars and ID tags, at a minimum, in case pet and owner are separated. ID tattoos and a microchip are a preference, and owners should also carry a recent photo of their pet to help describe him/her if needed. Owners should also have a document in their car giving permission to treat the animal, or where to house them, in case of an accident. You also need alternate names, phone numbers & instructions as to who to contact.
- Never leave a pet in a closed vehicle – oven-like temperatures can build up in minutes, even on cool days.
- Be careful when introducing your pet to strangers, especially don’t allow curious children or adults to approach your pet without your supervision.
- Never let your pet approach an animal in the wild.
- Prepare your pet for travel with effective flea and tick medication. Make sure your animal’s vaccinations are up-to-date and carry proof of rabies vaccination.
- Be mindful of your pet’s personal needs and limitations – how far they can comfortably walk, is their preferred food available, how frequently do they need to stop for a break, etc.
- Do not let your dog drink the water at ocean beaches. Salt water makes dogs sick – just like humans. And salt water can also damage your dog’s coat. Rinse dogs with fresh water after an ocean swim. And bring clean, fresh water for them to drink.
- Always clean up after your pet.
In the Heat
- Limit exercise during peak heat hours, and walk your dog on the grass or shade to avoid burning their paws.
- Keep your pet hydrated! In general, dogs require ½ to 1 ounce of water per day per pound. The larger the dog, the more water intake is required (which also means more potty breaks). Try to give your dog water every 2 hours. Hiding some enticing ingredients into water is a great method to encourage drinking more fluids. Make sure to use dog-friendly flavorings, fruit or vegetables, such as watermelon, apples and carrots.
- Use sunblock on your pet. Dogs, particularly those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, do sunburn. Exposure should be limited during the day and sunblock applied to ear tips, nose and other hairless areas. It’s a good idea to give thin-coated white dogs a light all-over application.
- Surfaces such as asphalt, sand and concrete can burn your pet’s paws. Try to walk your pet early in the morning or later in the evening as the temperature cools down or walk them on the grass. If that isn’t possible, check the ground temperature by placing the back of your hand on the ground for at least 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your pet’s paws.
- Pets can suffer from heatstroke when the temperature outside (or in) reaches 80℉ or humidity of 90 per cent. Learn the danger signs of heat stroke — rapid panting, staggering, excessive salivation. Immerse your animal in cool water and seek medical attention fast if you suspect heat stroke. More info on heat stroke in dogs.
- Give your pets cooling options – from converting toddler paddling pools into pet splash pools to buying pet cooling pads so that they can cool off safely when they need to.
In the Cold
- Dress your pet for cold weather. Dogs, even those with thick hair, are best protected by a coat that covers the chest and abdomen. If you’ll be out in rain or snow, choose a waterproof coat, and if you have a male dog, select a style that won’t get soaked with urine.
- Protect your dog’s feet. A walk doesn’t have to be long for a dog’s feet to be hurt by ice balls or the salt and ice melt used on roads and sidewalks. Musher’s wax applied to the paw pads before going out can help protect them. There are also many versions of dog boots, including multi-packs of disposable ones and more expensive but durable bootees secured with Velcro straps. Booties for pets prevent sand and salt from getting lodged in paws, causing irritation. If you have a pet, use pet-friendly ice melts. After each walk, make sure to wash and dry your pets feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals. Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
- Keep your dog leashed near icy ponds. Even if frozen, ponds are likely to have weak areas unable to support your dog’s weight.
- Beware of antifreeze. Dogs — and cats that venture outdoors — risk poisoning from sweet-tasting antifreeze spilled on driveways or roadsides. Even a lick or two of these yellow-green products can cause kidney failure if the animal is not quickly treated.
- Moisturize your dog’s skin. Just as human skin tends to get dry and itchy in cold weather, a dog’s skin is also prone to winter itch. Keep winter baths to a minimum and consider adding a small daily dose of olive oil or coconut oil to your dog’s food; it can help to moisturize the dog’s skin. Half a teaspoon is adequate for a dog under 30 pounds, a teaspoon a day for a medium-size dog, and up to a tablespoon for a large dog of 90 pounds.
Travel with Cats
- Make sure your hotel is cat-friendly. While many hotels are dog-friendly, not all of them are cat-friendly. If you’re not sure of your hotel’s pet policy confirm ahead of time that your hotel allows cats.
- If your cat isn’t crated in the vehicle keep them in the back seat with a baby gate so they can’t get up to the driver’s seat. For safety sake they shouldn’t get near the driver side floor where the brake and gas pedals are located, or on the dashboard. Put a litter box and food for them in the back of the vehicle.
- If your cat has a favorite blanket or toy, make sure you bring it along on your trip, something that smells and feels like home so they can feel more secure and safe. Pack the same litter and food you use at home.
- If you’re going on a long road trip, make sure you are extra careful when opening and closing the car door. Cats are skilled escape artists, and they’re likely going to want to flee from the car. If your cats roam free in the car always crate them before you take them inside of a house or into a hotel. You can check an interesting article on how much a maine coon costs.