Friday, July 5, 2013

Pack up Your Paws Part 2: How to Get There

Welcome to summer reruns! This was originally posted in July 2012. We'll be back with new content - an update from Judd - tomorrow! This is Part 2 of our two-part post on vacationing with your pets. You can read Part 1 here.

Now that your planning is done, you can look forward to the vacation itself. And you know how they say that "getting there is half the fun"? Well, that's true of traveling with pets - as long as you're prepared. Otherwise, traveling can be stressful for you and for them. Having a fun vacation with your pet will start with safe traveling.

Each airline has their own rules when it comes to traveling pets. Small dogs and cats are usually able to travel with you in the cabin, if their carrier can safely be placed under the seat in front of you. Some airlines may require you to purchase an extra seat for your pet, or you may prefer to do this for your (and your pet's) comfort. For larger dogs that will have to travel in cargo, buy a sturdy, airline approved cargo crate with a good latch on the door.

Your pilot has turned on the no-walkies sign...

When traveling by plane it is important to think of anything that could happen. Tape a recent picture to your pet’s carrier, and keep one with you as well; it’ll be a lot easier for everyone to identify your four-legged friend, especially if something were to happen during travel. Feed your dog or cat 3-5 hours before you travel. Freeze a bowl of water to keep in their travel crate so it won’t spill during loading, but will melt by the time s/he is thirsty. You can also tape a small pouch of dried food outside of the crate so airline personnel will be able to feed your pet during longer flights or a layover. If possible, book a direct flight. If you don’t want your pet treated like “luggage” think of booking them their own flight via Pet Airways (

When traveling by car, the main thing to remember is to keep your pet secure. Dogs are easier to travel with in general, but more so when driving. Most dogs will be excited to join you for a ride, just make sure they are either fitted for a dog-friendly seat belt or a travel harness; crates are an option as well, provided you have the room. Do not allow your pet to roam freely in the car, and do not let them sit on your lap - especially if you are driving. Unless they are exceptionally calm and seasoned travelers, cats should be crated. Cats like to hide in new places, and may choose to stuff themselves under the brake pedal or try and make a break for an open door.

A harness keeps you and your buddy safe on the road and is stylish to boot
For those dogs that may be a bit more timid about being your backseat buddy, start slow. Get your pup used to being the car without it running first; feed them a meal in the backseat and reward them for being calm. Start with short 10-15 minute trips and then gradually increase the distance you drive. Don’t just take your dog to the vet or the groomers in the car, as that could make them associate being in the car with a bad experience. Have your end destination be part of the reward during training; take a drive to a local dog park, or pet friendly store/restaurant. For those nonstop barking travel dogs, stuff a toy with treats and they’ll be too busy to bark.

Some dogs and cats get carsick, just like us! It's generally best for them to travel with an empty stomach, although some may do better with a small meal before you go. Experiment to see what's best for your pet, and never deny them water. Nausea may be relieved if the pet can see the surrounding scenery. Your vet may also prescribe anti-nausea medication as a last resort.

You will need to make pit stops for your dog about every two hours, so that they can stretch and empty their bladders. Cats can be expected to make it about six hours without a toilet. This should be calculated into your travel plans. A certain loss of spontaneity is to be expected when traveling with pets. Plan ahead to make sure that your hotel or lodging is pet friendly, and be a good customer - don't sneak pets into places where they are not allowed.

Margaritas on the deck at sunset... you're buying.
Now that you're at your destination, include your pet in your plans. Ask about local dog parks and dog-friendly cafes. Be patient with your baby if they are nervous or stressed out, and try to avoid leaving them alone in your hotel for an extended period of time (even if crated). In no time at all, your pet should be relaxing right alongside you.

No matter where you go or how you get there, keep your pet’s health and well being in the front of your mind. Don’t wait to buy food until you arrive, because your pet’s favorite may not be available. When packing, bring along some comforts of home, such as a favorite toy or blanket. Maintain your normal routine as much as possible; feeding times and play times shouldn’t alter too much while on vacation. Train, don’t drug, your pet into being a good traveler and you’re sure to have a great time!


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