Holiday Travel Tips with a Furry Friend
By: James D. Kelly
Many of us will be traveling by car or air to celebrate the Holiday season with family and friends. If you are planning on taking along a furry friend, some advanced planning will help to make your travels safer, more enjoyable and fun.
Following are a few tips to make your trips as trouble free as possible
- If you pet isn't use to traveling, take your pet on short trips to the store, park or a friends, or even around the block, each time increasing the travel time.
- Don't let your pet loose in the car, you wouldn't consider letting a child ride in your car without a seat belt, your pets should be given the same consideration. You should, at the minimum, provide a crate for your pet, or even better, fit your dogs with a safety harness attached to the seatbelt system, such as the Roadie Canine Vehicle Restraint System. We recommend they ride in the back seat for added security.
- People have been seriously injured, or worse, when animals have become projectiles during sudden stops or accidents. Also, if they are loose they may escape and create even more of a traffic hazard for themselves and others
- Don't wait until the last minute to purchase your carrier or crate! You should familiarize your pet with his travel carrier early, by leaving it open with a favorite toy or blanket inside, so that it will think of it as a " home away from home". If traveling by air, the carrier must comply with strict airline regulations. Check with the airlines you are considering, for carrier dimensions that they will allow. Remember, most will quote you the size of a "hard sided" carrier, so also check on the underseat dimensions, our site lists most major airline numbers and web sites specific to pet travel.
- If you are flying, remember, for your pet to travel in cabin (which we highly recommend), it cannot exceed 22 pounds and must be 18 inches or less in length and 11 inches in height.
- If traveling outside of the country, contact the embassy or consulate of your destination country at least four to six weeks ahead of time for papers you will need and any quarantine or health requirements. Also, ask about any health risks your pet might face at your destination, so you can get any special vaccinations or parasite control products in plenty of time for your trip.
- Its always a good idea when traveling to carry a current health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 7 to 10 days from the date your are planning on traveling, especially if flying. It's also a good idea to take along a record of vaccinations and veterinarian records. It is even more important to take records along if you pet has any medication or special needs.
- Make sure you pet has ID-tags, with your home address and phone number, its also good to have an additional tag with the address and phone number of you destination, you may also want to include your cell number.
- If carrying your pet in a soft carrier never leave it alone when closed, they may become panicked and could harm themselves. It's always a good idea to have an absorbent liner, besides airlines require it!
- Take plenty of your pets' regular brand of pet food. You may want to try new cuisines during your trip, but it isn't a good idea for your pet!
- You should feed your pet a light meal 5 to 6 hours prior to departure, Don't give her water within two hours of departure. Also, it's not a good idea to feed her in a moving car; you may regret it more than your pet!
- Walk him before you leave for the airport and if possible, before you enter the terminal. If driving, give your pet the chance to relieve himself every three to four hours, or sooner, especially if he is a puppy or an older pet. And, remember be a good neighbor, always pick up any "deposits" that your furry friend may leave!
- If traveling by car make sure you bring along plenty of water, she may not be use to the water in a different locale, if you are staying for a long period it is a good idea to slowly mix the two drinking sources.
- If traveling by air, you may want to freeze a small bowl of water and put it in her carrier, remember, you are not suppose to let your pet out any time during the flight or in the terminal.
Some final thoughts:
Before you go through all the trouble of taking you pet with you, the first thing to do is make sure your pet will be welcome when you arrive. We know our pet is the best there is, but strangers, and even some relatives, or the pets of your friends or relatives, may not welcome her with open arms!
Your pet may be confused or upset upon reaching your destination, so one of the first things you should do when you get there is to make you pet comfortable with its own crate, blanket or toy from home. Also take along a "Do Not Disturb" sign for your room, so people will know you have a pet in the room and won't be surprised upon opening the door. RELAX and enjoy your trip, your pet will sense if you are having a good time and act accordingly.
Some other products you may want to consider to make your Holiday travels easier.
The Dog-Gone Device, A Backpack your pet can travel in in comfort while leaving your hands free. Great for shopping, camping or hiking!
A Pet Car Seat or Booster. For added fun and security. A great place for your pet to ride in the back seat with his harness.
A Pet Tote for our smaller furry friends. Great for keeping your little friend from underfoot and in full view while visiting friends or a leisurely stroll.
James D. Kelly is the owner of Travelin' Pets, a web site specializing in providing information and quality products for traveling pets and their owners.