Traveling with a pet in the car
Traveling with a pet over the holiday season (or any time really) needs careful planning. Here are some things to keep in mind when traveling with your pet.
Traveling with your pet
Small dogs and kittens should be kept in a pet carrier whereas larger dogs can be secured with a safety harness. It is important that if you do not regularly travel with your pet that you acquaint them with the carrier or harness before the trip. This will lessen potential anxiety and stress while on the road. Try for example placing the carrier in the house a few days before the trip and encouraging them to climb in and out of it. Or, take your pet for short drives in the carrier to show them that it is safe.
Why carriers and harnesses are important
Failing to secure your pet while traveling can be dangerous. Smaller pets sometimes maneuver themselves under car pedals to sleep. Bigger dogs and even cats can also cause the driver to be distracted when they jump around in the car.
Water and a water bowl are essential when traveling with a pet. Always ensure that there is enough cool water available for the entire trip plus delays.
Cats and dogs need to eat. It is therefore essential that pet owners have food available at all times as road stops do not always stock pet food. If your pets gets a little car sick, try feeding them when you arrive rather than during the day while you are still traveling.
Manage the temperature
If you are traveling with your pet in the summer, make sure that your car’s air conditioner is working. It is also a good idea to have ice packs that you can place around the carrier should the air conditioner fail. If you are traveling with your pet during winter, keep a blanket available in case the temperature dips.
As important as it is for humans to stop, rest and stretch their legs, pets too require breaks. Stop regularly so that your furkids can stretch their legs and relieve themselves at least every 2 – 3 hours. If you are traveling with a puppy you may need to stop more frequently.
Plan your route
Not all rest stops are suitable for animals. So, if you are traveling with a pet, make sure that you know where the pet friendly stops are. A pet friendly stop will have grass, trees, water and will be situated away from the main road.
With dogs in particular, no matter how socialised and obedient they are, they should alway be leashed when they are near a road. Unfamiliarity, other animals and anxiety from travel may contribute to a potentially dangerous situation. Cats should also be leashed before they are removed from a car. Make sure that your cat is secure before opening a window or a door as they can potentially bolt out of your arms.
Identification tags are essential when traveling with your pet. Ensure that the number on the tag is reachable. Some owners may even opt for micro chipping during this time for extra security.
If traveling with your pet includes administering their daily medications, ensure that your rest stops are planned. Planning stops ensures that medications are administered safely and on time. Having treats available to mask a tablet may be a good idea if your pet struggles with their medication intake outside of their normal routine.
Traveling with a cat
Cats do not travel as well as dogs. However, if you must travel with your cat, try to minimise their stress as much as possible. Your vet may prescribe a mild sedative if your cat gets extremely stressed during long car rides.
Traveling with your pet over the holiday season needs to be well-planned, and sometimes, with your vet’s approval. However, with adequate prep and safety measures in place, your pet can enjoy holidays too!