How to Travel with Pets – Travel Tips for You and Your Pet
By Arden Moore – The Pet Health and Safety Coach™
Raise your hand if you dream of taking a long Mediterranean cruise, catching the Northern Lights in Iceland or snorkeling the famed coral coast of Fiji. This stubborn pandemic continues to take away the welcome mat for many to travel to such dream destinations. Instead of fretting about being unable to fly to foreign countries, focus on the fun you can have while traveling with your dog domestically, who is happy to be along for the ride.
PETS MAKE GREAT TRAVEL MATES
According to the latest national travel survey, nearly 80 percent of pet parents take their dogs – and yes, even some travel-savvy cats – on road trips. That percentage is up from 70 percent before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Through the years, I have logged thousands of miles in my vehicles with my four-leggers including my pet Casey, known as Pet Safety Cat Casey. Casey has been to 13 states with me. I am happy to be part of a growing majority of people who travel with their pets.
Traveling with your pet can be very rewarding but it does require some additional planning in advance to get the most out of your trips. I’m going to “unleash” some travel tips to keep you and your pets safe and help the trip be as enjoyable as possible.
PLAN YOUR STAY
Book your visit in advance by using pet-friendly websites, such as bringfido.com, tripswithpets.com, and fidofriendly.com. Before booking a hotel, it is wise to check their pet policy. In addition, it’s a good idea to find out the contact information on the nearest emergency veterinary clinic, including directions from the hotel. If staying at a hotel, the concierge staff can be helpful in providing information about professional pet sitters, dog walkers, and dog-welcoming outdoor cafes.
PLAY IT SAFE
As a master certified pet first aid/CPR instructor and founder of Pet First Aid 4U, I highly recommend you pack a first-aid kit and be your pet’s best health ally by enrolling in a veterinarian-approved pet first aid class before your trip. In my bag, I always bring ZYMOX® skin topicals in either the spray or cream just in case one of my pets gets a cut, scratch, or has an abrasion. These veterinarian-approved products are proven to manage wounds and they provide relief for itchy skin. The ZYMOX Dermatology pet care line also offers a shampoo and conditioner to safely bathe your dog after a fun day out on a dusty trail or swimming in a lake. These products can also help to calm irritated skin, should a pet need it. After all, we want to keep our pets healthy and comfortable.
PACK WITH A PURPOSE
Keep pet travel essentials in your vehicle. My must-have list includes:
- Water bowl
- Bottled water
- Extra leash and collar with identification tags
- Poop bags
- Bath towel
- Pet-safe pre-moistened wipes
- Health records in printed form and on your phone
- Favorite toys
- 3-day supply of food inside resealable plastic bags or containers.
- Pet pheromone travel diffuser to help ease anxiety.
- First-aid kit
- Crate for boarding your pet while you are away from your room.
- If traveling with a cat, have a litter pan, plenty of litter, and a scoop.
DON’T BE A ROAD WARRIOR
If you are traveling by yourself, take a break every couple of hours and check if your pets need a bathroom break or water. I limit myself to eight hours behind the wheel each day and always plan to leave an hour or two before the morning rush hour.
PARK YOUR PET WHILE YOU DRIVE
Do not allow your dog to ride in the front passenger seat, in your lap, or allow him to stick his head out the window. An unrestrained 60-pound dog can become a 2,700-pound projectile in a sudden stop or an accident even at 35 miles per hour. Depending on the size of your dog, fit him in a pet safety harness securely clipped into a seatbelt in the middle seats or place him inside a pet carrier, also fastened in place.
DINE AT ODD TIMES
Strive to eat at pet-welcoming restaurants and outdoor cafes during off-peak times, such as mid-morning or late afternoon. It stands to reason when there are fewer people around, there are fewer distractions and possibly reduced anxiety for your pet. I have found weekdays are usually quieter than weekends. Another tip is to exercise your dog before dining with a brisk 30-minute to help calm him down. Request a table in an out-of-the-way corner and tether your dog’s four to six-foot leash securely under one of your chair legs to keep him from disturbing other diners.
PET-PROOF YOUR LODGINGS
Once you arrive where you will be staying, here are a few things I recommend you do before you let your dog out of the carrier or off his leash. Once you know it should be safe, allow your pet to explore the area.
- Shut the closet door, put down the toilet lid, and make sure all windows are secured.
- Check the floors and under the bed for pills, hairpins, and other objects that may pose a risk if ingested.
- Place a large towel or throw blanket on top of the bedspread if your dog likes to sleep on the bed at night with you. The same goes for the sofa.
- Hang a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the doorknob to prevent an unexpected visit by housekeeping staff if staying at a hotel.
PAW IT FORWARD
Set a good example for the next person traveling with his or her pet. Have your dog be in a sit-stay position when you check-in at the front desk. Always abide by the pet rules and leave a generous tip for the housekeeping staff. These gestures create a positive impression that will benefit other pet lovers.
Consider yourself blessed if you are lucky to have a willing travel dog and/or cat. Your four-legged travel mate can make the miles less boring or monotonous and definitely help you smile for miles. There are many things to consider when traveling with your pet but if you are prepared, it can help make your travels even more rewarding. My dogs, Kona and Emma, are ready for their next road trip. How about your pets?
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Arden Moore wears many collars in the pet world. She is a best-selling author, master certified pet first aid/CPR instructor, pet behavior consultant, host of the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio, and happy pet parent to a Furry Brady Bunch in Dallas.