“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” The holiday traveling season is fast approaching. The highest volume of road traffic during the year occurs on the days immediately before and after Thanksgiving and Christmas. Although Toureen Pet Resort and Spa offers exceptional boarding accommodations, and is always a great option for your pet’s care while you are away, there may be a few times when you might like to include a beloved pet in your travels. Whether you are driving across the country or just across town to run errands our furry companions are coming along for the ride.
The first and most important consideration when traveling with our four legged friends is keeping them safe and secure while in the car. There are many types of pet travel restraints on the market. The one that has been around for the longest time and works well for cats or small to medium sized dogs is a crate. Crates can be wire mesh, soft sided or hard plastic. The wire mesh type offers sturdy construction, solid protection and good visibility for your pet. Hard plastic crates limit visibility but are easier to clean. The soft sided crates limit visibility, but are padded and more comfortable. If your pet tends to become nervous with all the sights and sounds of traveling, limited visibility may be a plus.
As a pet owner familiar with your pet’s likes and dislikes you will know which type of crate best fits the needs of your pet. The size of the crate should accommodate normal movement. Plenty of room is needed for turning around, lying down and sitting or standing comfortably. Padding the crate with bedding or blankets and adding some favorite toys ensures that our treasured pets travel in safety and comfort. Be sure there is adequate ventilation inside the crate and that air from the heating or cooling systems are reaching the crate area of the car. Secure the safety restraint to avoid slipping or sliding in the event of a sudden stop. A word of caution, just like people, some pets are susceptible to motion sickness. Riding backwards can exacerbate this problem. Your Vet can assist you with medication for motion sickness.
For bigger dogs or pets that are resistant to a crate, there are pet car seats, pet seat belts or pet safety harnesses available for sale in any large pet shop or online pet supply store. Pet car seats are similar to children’s car seats. They are installed in the back seat with a locking system that goes under the seat and they come equipped with a secure seat belt that restrains your pet while seated in the seat. They are very secure, but limit movement. Safety harnesses are becoming best sellers in pet shops due to the fact that they allow the pet to sit or lie down while securely harnessed. Available in many sizes, colors and styles, they are worn like a vest that attaches in the back to the car’s existing seat belt system. They are safe, comfortable and are the least restrictive device on the market. Acclimate your pet slowly to traveling with a safety restraint if it is a new experience for them. Crate them or put the harness on in your home for short periods of time, take short trips in the car, lengthening the time with each trip until the pet becomes comfortable with the new routine.
If you choose to keep your pet unrestrained while driving, at the very least, install a vehicle barrier between the front and back seat to keep your pet from being thrown into the front seat in the event of an emergency stop or to prevent an excited, playful animal from leaping into the front seat and likely causing an accident. Note: It is unsafe to travel with your pet in the back of a pick-up truck whether it is restrained or not. It is also unsafe to allow a dog to ride with its head out the window. It could be easily hit by flying debris, particularly if you are following a construction vehicle.
Another safety consideration when traveling is to be sure your pet has two forms of ID, a microchip and a tag that includes your address, cell phone number and destination phone number. It is a wise idea to carry a current photo of your pet with you. Even the most well trained and best behaved pet can become confused and disoriented in a new environment and become lost.
If you are taking a lengthy trip bring along a copy of your pet’s health records. In case of illness or injury requiring medical care in an unfamiliar place you will be glad you have them. Additionally, if you will be traveling across state borders, some states require proof of current rabies vaccinations.
Taking a trip requires planning, packing and preparation. Taking a trip with a pet requires the same for the pet. Plan ahead and make reservations at pet friendly hotels along your route. Also search online for pet parks, pet friendly restaurants and pet stores in your daily destination area. There are online websites that will assist you with pet friendly travel plans such as petfriendly.com or petswelcome.com.
Pack a travel bag for your pet including water, food, feeding dishes, a leash, a pillow, blanket or bed, toys, medications, litter and a litter box, a first aid kit and grooming supplies. Carry water from home in plastic gallon jugs since changes in water can result in stomach upset. Keep your pet on its regular diet as much as possible. Use travel food dishes with airtight lids to prevent spilling. Prepared meal servings in prepackaged sealed bags eliminates the need for measuring and cuts down on mess.
Before starting out on your trip, exercise your dog, let it run off some energy so it will be ready to settle down or even nap for a while. While en route, make frequent stops to walk your dog, provide water or food and give it a bathroom break. Many rest areas have designated areas for exercising dogs.
Pack food for yourself that can be eaten in the car or at a rest stop. Other options are to be aware of dog friendly restaurants along your route, choose take out at a drive thru window or wait until you arrive at your hotel and use room service. If you are traveling with another person take turns using rest rooms or picking up food. Never leave your pet alone in the car no matter what season it is. Once air conditioning or heating has been turned off cars can become overheated or dangerously cold in a few short minutes with tragic results. Be aware of the alarming growing trend of pet thieves who watch for animals left in cars and steal them for resale. These thieves frequent rest areas, parking lots of hotels, restaurants and gas stations with convenience stores.
Carefully plan your trip for yourself and your pet, prepare for all eventualities, then relax and enjoy your time away with all the pleasures of your furry friend’s companionship along for the ride. However, if all this preparation is too time consuming or if your travel plans occur suddenly, know that Toureen is always available to safely board your beloved pet and provide them with a “second” home.