The holidays are one of the busiest travel times of the year, with many families packing up for road trips both near and far to be near loved ones. With fur babies playing such an important role in a family unit, it’s no surprise that AAA and Best Western International report that more than half of U.S. pet owners take their cats and dogs with them when they travel. While it’s easy to think about the excitement of rallying the troops for a family trip, there is no denying that it can also be a stressful journey from planning to actually getting to your destination. Believe it or not, your pet family members often feel the same way!
As you get ready to take Fido or Whiskers along for the ride this year, there are some simple precautions and helpful tips to make the trip both safe and comfortable for them.
Familiarize them with the car and travel early
If you’re in the puppy or kitten stage with your family fur baby, this is the perfect opportunity to get them familiar with car rides. Even if they are an older pet, you can help them get an idea of what to expect by doing some little things in advance that create familiarity. The days and, if possible, weeks leading up to the road trip, doing things such as bringing them in the car with you for short drives, letting them see and smell their travel crate, and even seeing your suitcase ahead of time can all reduce stress. Many pets who are used to traveling know that when they see suitcases out, a trip is coming near.
Keep their safety first and prepare for the worst
While your upcoming road trip may be completely calm and orderly, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead for uncertainty to keep everyone safe and sound. First up, you want to make sure your pets are microchipped with updated contact information in the event you have a runaway on your hands. If you need to order updated pet tags with the correct address and phone number as well, you can do this same-day at many pet stores in town. Next, in the event of a car accident, you want to make sure everyone in the car is buckled in and secure—your furry family members are no exception. Purchasing a car harness for larger dogs, a doggie car seat for dogs under 30 pounds, and securing travel crates for your cats are all great ways to maintain safety.
Gather pet-friendly essentials into a travel kit
Just as you put together toiletries for the family and travel toys and activities for your children, make sure to gather the goods for your pets in advance. If you wait last- minute, odds are there may be something you didn’t realize you needed before you have to hit the road. Putting together a kit of essentials like food, drinking water, treats, bathroom supplies, medication, and travel documents is a good idea. If you have a pet that particularly doesn’t handle travel stress well, reach out to your vet before you leave to request something to help keep them calm. There are both pills and sprays available for dogs and cats that can do the trick. You may also want to avoid feeding them before a long trip to help their stomach nerves. This can also help avoid pet messes in the car that often happen from being too nervous!
Here’s a quick checklist to help make sure you have everything you need for your pets the next time you travel:
Updated Shot Records
Litter or Poop Bags
Collar with ID tags
Pet Accident Cleaner