Don’t fret if you need to take a trip with your pet! With a little bit of advance planning and preparation, the journey can be made as stress-free as possible for both you and your fur baby.
Should your pet stay or should they go?
First up, traveling in different forms of transport and through strange environments can be stressful for a pet, as well as their owner. Think about whether your pet really needs to come with you on the journey, or whether they may be better to stay at home with a pet-sitter or have a short vacation in a cattery or dog kennels.
Get your pet’s health checked with your vet, especially if you are going to fly. Some animals are simply not well suited to some modes of transport, such as the pressurized environment of an airplane. Your vet may also have tips on the best ways to keep your pet calm while you are on the road or in the air.
Plan Your Route and Method of Transport
When you have an animal with you, it pays to plan ahead as much as you can on. Find out as much as you can about what will be involved in getting from A to B. Know the route you are going to take, what services and facilities there are while you are traveling to look after you and your pet’s needs and what type of transport you will be using.
Transport providers, including airline carriers, all have their own policies whether they allow people to bring their pets onto different forms of transport. Some allow pets, some don’t. Some have restrictions around certain breeds and species. Most will have limitations on the number of animals and pets they can take on a flight.
Checking your preferred airline’s requirements ahead of time will save a lot in last minute searching for other options if you find your much-loved animal can’t board the same flight you’d hoped for. Transport providers may charge additional fees, have specifications to meet around pet carrier types and sizes, and require additional paperwork.
If you have an emotional support animal there are provisions under the Air Carrier Access Act for your ESA to fly with you if you either need them on the flight or at your destination. Airlines cannot charge additional fees for an ESA, but you must follow their policies at all times. These are likely to include advance notice of at least 48-hours, evidence of your eligibility for an ESA and other supporting documentation that your animal is safe to have in the cabin.
Just putting a little time and effort into the planning of how you will get to your destination will make the journey much smoother both with your pet and for your pet.
Get Your Pet Mentally Ready!
That’s right! There are ways you can mentally prepare your pet for travel.
- Desensitize your pet to any carriers or harnesses you are going to use well in advance. Have them around your home so they are used to entering and exiting on their own terms, and don’t associate it only with a potentially frightening experience such as a trip to the vet!
- Train your pet, especially if you have a dog to respond to basic commands and your voice. Transport and hospitality providers can and do reject dogs with bad manners. Teaching your pet how to cope and behave in public will go a long way.
- If your pet is not used to being in public, gradually introduce them to the different sounds they may hear while they are traveling.
Get Some Pet Gear Together
You may not need to pack a full-sized suitcase for your pet, but there is some pet gear and accessories to have on hand to make the trip easy.
- Check that your pet carrier and/or harnesses meet the requirements of any airlines. These may include requirements around size, ventilation, and waterproofing the bases.
- Remember to have any documentation you need to confirm either their health status or your eligibility to travel with an emotional support animal if you have one.
- Make sure you have some form of identification for your pet that they can wear with a collar, or are easy to attach to their carrier. The ID should include the name of your animal, your name and contact details. Include a phone number you can be reached on while you are traveling just in case you do become separated.
- Pets usually travel better on a slightly empty stomach. That way there is less risk of their stomachs being upset and vomiting due to motion sickness. However, do pack some water to keep your pet hydrated, treats to give as rewards, and a little of their normal food, if possible, in case you are delayed or on a very long route.
- Have in your pet’s pack some paper towels or wet wipes to use for cleanups in case of toileting accidents, and doggy-do bags to hygienically dispose of any waste.
- Don’t forget one of your pet’s favorite toys, or a small blanket or towel that they can snuggle into that is familiar smelling and comforting to them.
Take Care of Your Pets Needs during Travel
Plan toilet stops for your pet before you board or embark on your journey. Most airport terminals have designated pet and animal relief areas. Allow time for your pet to relieve themselves before your board. If you are a road trip, find safe places to stop and allow your dog to do their business, or a cat to use a secure litter tray.
Stick with your pet as much as you can and stay by their side during travel. This is as reassuring to them to know that you are around for them as it is for you to see how they are doing.
Keep your pet hydrated, and reward them with lots of love and attention for taking the journey with you. Most of all enjoy each other’s company on your adventure no matter how long or short!