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Holiday Pet Travel Safety Tips

December 15, 2023

Are you going to be traveling over the next few weeks? If so, you’re not alone. According to a study posted on IPX1031, about 62 percent of Americans are planning to travel this month. Out of those, roughly 38 percent will be going to a nearby state, while 12 percent will be traveling internationally. The other 50 percent are split between going across the country and staying in their home state. Of course, many pets will also be hitting the road with their humans. Some pets love going on adventures! Others? Not so much. Either way, there are many different factors to keep in mind when planning those trips. A local Galena, MD veterinarian offers some helpful tips on traveling with pets in this article.

Should I Travel With My Pet?

Before making reservations for your pet, it’s important to consider what’s right for them. Think about their comfort and safety. While it’s definitely safe to say that many pets are happiest when they’re with their humans, that doesn’t necessarily mean they enjoy traveling. In fact, many of our animal pals are homebodies. 

Travel is also easier for some pets than others. An adventurous Golden Retriever may love going over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house. A nervous senior cat, on the other hand, may want to stay home and take yet another nap. 

Consider your pet’s size, health, and personality. Also, think about what your plans are when you reach your destination. Will you have the time and room your pet needs? Is the area risky for them in any way?

Age is also important to consider. Animals that are under 8 weeks old shouldn’t travel long distances, and really shouldn’t be left at home alone, either. Senior pets may also have trouble, and may be both safer and more comfortable at home or with a sitter.

Consider Restrictions Before Traveling With Your Pet

Your destination should also factor in. If you aren’t going to a pet-friendly spot, your furry pal may be more comfortable in a hotel or with a sitter. Animals that are from hot climates may be miserable in cold areas. A husky, on the other hand, may absolutely hate that tropical heat and sunshine you’ve been longing for. 

Weather isn’t the only thing to consider, though. You’ll want to look into potential hazards at your destination. Research local flora and fauna. Find out if your vet recommends any additional vaccines. If you’re headed to a cabin in the woods, your canine buddy may benefit from being vaccinated for Leptospirosis. Headed to the desert? A rattlesnake vaccine may not be a bad idea. We also recommend saving a list of veterinarians in the area, including an emergency clinic.

Keep Your Pet’s Records With You

Depending on where you are going, you may need to provide proof that your pet is current on all of their parasite control and vaccinations. It’s always a good idea to keep copies of those records with you. If you don’t want to carry physical copies, email digital ones to yourself. Or, upload copies to the cloud, so you can access them from anywhere. 

Have Your Pet’s ID Up To Date

We can’t overstate the importance of making sure that your pet is wearing ID tags. Microchips are also crucial. (Tip: make sure that your contact information is correct and up to date in the chipmaker’s database.) You may also want to consider a newer piece of technology: the GPS tag. These are great because they can literally pinpoint a pet’s location. However, you’ll need to do some research on these before buying one. Some work with cell towers, while others use satellite technology. There are also various models and tiers for subscription services to choose from.

Packing For Pets: What To Bring

You’ll need to pack a bag for your pet. Include food, toys, treats, wipes or towels, dishes, bedding, toys, a spare leash or tie line, and a pet first-aid kit.  If you aren’t sure whether Fido and Fluffy’s food will be available where you are going, consider ordering some in advance and getting it shipped to yourself.

Conclusion: Pets can—and do—enjoy traveling with their humans. Just be sure to use proper safety precautions, and put your furry pal’s comfort and safety first.

Soothe Your Pet’s Travel Anxiety

Many pets get very nervous about travel. Some even get carsick. If your pet gets very stressed out or uneasy when traveling, you may want to ask your Galena, MD vet about providing medications. Anti-nausea medication may help keep your pet’s digestive system running smoothly, while a calming product can make the trip much easier for them. 

Air Travel With Pets

More and more pets are flying the friendly skies these days. However, plane rides can not only be scary for pets: they can even be dangerous. There are quite a few things to consider and factor in when bringing a pet on a plane ride, safety being the most important. If possible, travel with your pet in the cabin. This may require buying another seat, but it’s well worth it. You will need to check size and weight restrictions first, however.

In some cases, you may not be able to bring your furry buddy into the cabin with you. Check with your vet before allowing your pet to travel in the cargo compartment. While pets do fly in cargo holds daily, it’s not a very comfortable experience for them. Many of those holds are unheated, which means your furry friend could get dangerously hot or cold. They won’t be able to relieve themselves, which can add to their discomfort. The noise and vibration is also very scary for many pets. On top of all that, there may also be issues with airflow and air quality. 

When booking air travel, we also recommend using direct flights. This not only minimizes the time your pet will spend in cargo, but also reduces the chances of them being sent to the wrong place. Be sure to notify both the captain and a flight attendant that your pet is on board. Last but not least, we also recommend checking the airline’s rules, regulations, and safety records for pet transport.

Driving With Pets

In general, we would recommend traveling by car for those who are taking their pets on vacation. Automobiles are far more comfortable and more familiar for Fluffy and Fido than planes or trains are. You also can control when and where you stop, and for how often. (Note: our canine pals are also not opposed to exploring new parks and trails. Consider downloading a few apps to help you find new spots to check out with your furry pal.)

There are a few safety considerations with car travel. The biggest thing? Always keep your pet crated for travel. Fido may like sticking his snoot out the window, but this is actually quite dangerous. Your furry buddy could get rocks, stones, dust, insects, or even cigarette butts in his face or eyes. He’s also very vulnerable to getting injured if there were an accident, or even if you had to stop suddenly.

Choosing A Crate For Your Pet

Now for the carrier itself. Choose something that is solid and steady. Make sure it’s sturdy, and will hold together: the last thing you want is for the carrier to fall apart during your trip. Be sure to include some form of ID. You can use mailing labels, and then use clear packing tape to seal it and make it waterproof. You can also use luggage tags. 

Be sure to add comfy bedding to make the carrier more welcoming! 

If you are flying, or even traveling on some buses or trains, you may need to pass a security checkpoint. Have a leash and collar on hand, in case you need to take your pet out of the carrier.Happy Trails! Please contact us with any questions about your pet’s health or care. As your local Galena, MD animal clinic, we’re here to help!

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