Traveling Safely With Your Pets

Traveling with your pets is becoming a very popular travel trend. After all, pets are family and leaving them at home can be not only costly but worrisome. Are they okay while you’re gone? Can you trust who is taking care of them? Can I afford it? 

Bringing your pets along on a trip can alleviate many of those worries, but it can present its own concerns that you’ll need to handle. Even if you’re moving cross-country and taking your pets on a road trip isn’t a want, but a need, keeping them safe is a top priority. 

Here are some of tips for traveling safely with your pets:

Take them on a test run. See how your animals react. Do they sit still in a seat or hop all over the inside of the vehicle? Do they appear frightened? Do they get ill? These answers will help you determine what extra preparations you’ll need to take before you hit the road. 

Animals can get motion sickness. Plan out your timing to take enough stops so that your pet can get adequate fresh air and time out of the confinement of the vehicle. Letting them stretch their legs — while you stretch yours — can extend the time you can travel without a pet getting anxious, and anxiety can also lead to nausea. 

Pack a clean-up kit in the event that the motion sickness still sets in. You never know when you may need paper towels and a small bottle of spray cleaner and/or disinfectant. Don’t forget spare plastic trash bags (or grocery bags) to throw away the trash after, locking the odors inside of the bag so no one else gets sick.

Whatever kind of pet you have, you’ll want to have a safe way to tether them in the vehicle. Cats usually benefit from spacious kennel crates, with materials to cuddle on and perhaps a favorite toy if your cat is playful. Dogs should be in a harness with a tether that keeps them from flying too far should you have to slam on your brakes too quickly; the harness can allow them to still look out the window but not follow any temptation to jump out.  

If you have a pet with medical issues, put together a folder with your veterinarian’s contact information, copy of any important medical records and prescription details. Keep the bottles of prescriptions/medications together in a large zipped plastic bag and keep it all close together in the event of an emergency. If you’re going to be staying anywhere for any length of time or your pet has extenuating circumstances, inquire with your regular veterinarian as to a recommended clinic at your destination should there be a problem. Getting your vet’s permission beforehand may be a good idea, and they may want to do a quick exam to be sure they’re okay to travel, just like people!

You hate to think that anything will happen, but pets have gotten loose while in strange places. Keeping copies of your ownership records and a photo can help you prove ownership or work with a facility to help find your precious loved one. 

On a related note, a spare leash is a necessity. Good leashes rarely break, but you never know and don’t want to be caught in a situation where you’re unable to put your dog down. 

Pets can get dehydrated just like we can, so while you’re packing up their food, put in a few extra water bottles. Pop-up and foldable water and food bowls are available at pet stores so you don’t have to worry about space issues and you can easily fit them into a backpack or carry-on should you be flying with your pet. Taking a new yummy treat, or a favorite from home, can help calm an anxious animal, just like traveling with one of your two-legged kids!

Before you leave, make sure your pets are properly chipped or tagged, or both. 

When packing your own jacket into your suitcase, don’t forget that your pet may get cold, too. Not all animals can wear jackets, but if you have a tiny dog or one with medical issues that prevents them from tolerating cold and/or rain, a dog jacket isn’t a bad idea. Blankets for the inside of a crate, especially extras in the event of accidents, are critical, too. 

Last but not least, wherever you take your pets, leave no trace behind. Pet stores sell small packages of potty bags so you can clean up after them on the road. They are inexpensive and can even clip on a portable water bottle and bowl combo to keep your pet hydrated roadside or on a hike.

Traveling safely with your pets only takes a little extra time and will make the trip more enjoyable for you all!