Traveling with your pet can make any trip much more enjoyable; dogs, especially, are loyal companions who can help you feel safer in a strange place. It’s important to make sure you’re well prepared for travel with a pet, however, since they have different safety needs than the rest of us. If you’re going to be spending time outdoors, for instance, you’ll want to bring along a portable water dish and possibly some booties to protect tender paws from hot asphalt or rocky terrain. Avoiding issues such as these can help you and your pet have fun while staying safe.
It’s also important to ensure your accommodations are pet-friendly and that your dog will remain safe no matter what your mode of transportation will be. In a car, a harness that connects to a seat belt buckle is a great way to keep a dog secure while allowing him to either lie down or stand. If you’re flying, a crate will be necessary, as will a trip to the vet beforehand to make sure your pup is in good health. Small dogs of particular breeds — such as pugs — often have a hard time flying because certain altitudes can restrict their breathing.
Think about what your pet’s needs are at home and how you can manage those needs while you’re away. If he suffers from anxiety, it will be especially crucial to help him cope easily when he’s in a new environment. If he requires medication — even if it’s just for fleas — you’ll have to make arrangements to bring it with you and get him the doses he needs on time.
Below are just some of the things to consider for your trip.
Planning for Walks
No pet likes to be cooped up for too long, so on road trips, it’s important to make sure you can get your animal out every now and then for a walk. Cats can benefit from a good leg-stretch, too; just plan ahead and buy a good harness that can be attached to a leash so he’ll stay safe. If your cat goes outside at home sometimes, he’ll know the ropes; if not, you may need to scout the area out first to make sure there’s nothing on the ground that could cause a problem.
Preparing for Anxiety
Many pets suffer from anxiety, especially when it comes to new environments or being separated from their owners. Rescue animals often have a hard time being away from their loved ones because they’re afraid of being left behind, and when this anxiety is especially bad, it can lead to behavior issues that are stressful for both of you. Take a look at your options, and consider CBD oil for your pet. Studies have shown that this oil — which is derived from the hemp plant but causes no mind-altering effects — can reduce anxiety in both people and animals. Study some CBD guides online to find the best oils available, and talk to your vet before treatment.
Traveling by Air
Air travel is often not a big deal for some pets, but if your animal has never been on a plane before, you may want to consider asking your vet about medication to help him relax. The noise of the aircraft, combined with being crated and separated from you, may make him nervous, which can lead to illness. The more you can do to help him relax, the better. If you own a pug or boxer, always consult your vet before allowing him to fly, as high altitudes can have a harmful effect on his breathing. You’ll also want to factor in the cost of traveling with your pet.
Finding Pet-Friendly Accommodations
No matter where you stay during your trip, you’ll want to ensure that your pet will be safe and welcome. Whether you’re sleeping in a hotel or camping out in an RV, certain considerations will need to be made for him in order to keep both of you comfortable. Look online to find the best pet-friendly spots to stay on your route; some hotels allow pets with a cleaning deposit, but you’ll want to think about the details when booking a room. For instance, staying on the ground floor may be easiest if your pet is uneasy around strangers or has trouble with stairs/elevators. If you’re going to stop on the way to visit or stay with friends or family, make sure they don’t have any issues with your pet, such as allergies or small children who are afraid of dogs.
Making Your Destination Safe
Wherever you end up on your trip, it’s crucial to make sure it’s a safe place for your pet. Hiking and camping trips are great fun with a dog, but larger animals, rough terrain, heat, and bugs can all cause problems for your pet. If you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, consider putting reflectors on his collar and investing in booties that will protect his feet. Make sure he’ll have access to all the water he needs and that he’s up-to-date on flea and tick medication.
If you’ll be staying in a home or hotel, go through and pet-proof the areas as much as possible, and use the “Do Not Disturb” sign when you’re away to prevent issues with housekeeping. Look for potentially toxic plants, wires or cords that could be chewed on or tripped over, chocolate or other dangerous human foods, and small items that could be swallowed (such as little toys). If your pet is older, it’s also a good idea to check for anything that might cause an issue with his mobility, such as slick floors or throw rugs that can trip him up.
Bringing Comfort Items
Just like humans, many pets need certain comfort items from home when they’re traveling. These are things that can help them get to sleep or relax a little easier, so pack a bag just for your animal that contains everything he needs. Favorite toys or blankets, a pet bed, his food and water bowls, and treats are great items to bring along because they’ll help him feel at home. Don’t forget to bring extra waste bags for walks. When you get set up in your hotel room or at your destination, try to place his bed and/or bowls in similar spots to where they usually are in your home. This will help to minimize confusion and anxiety in a new place.
It’s important to take your pet for a vet visit before your trip, just to make sure he’s in good health and to get him updated on any vaccinations or flea and tick medication. If you’re flying out of the country, keep in mind that he may need special shots to do so, and always do some research online to make sure he’ll be allowed entrance once you reach your destination. Check to make sure his tags are up-to-date with vaccination information and your personal info, and have a spare made that you can keep in your wallet just in case the original gets lost. You can purchase customized tags at most pet stores.
Planning for Playtime
While you’re away, don’t forget that your pet will need playtime. Just like kids, animals need the opportunity to get outside and run around in order to release excess energy (and to have fun). Plan on creating some time for your pet to get in some exercise, and bring some toys that will help him do so. If you have a dog and plan to go running, make sure he has reflective gear on his collar or harness that will make him easier to see at twilight and in the dark. You can buy small LED lights to attach to collars, as well.
You can also plan ahead by looking online at pet-friendly spots at your destination; many places allow pets on a leash, and this will help you prepare a schedule for the trip. Parks, yoga classes, and marketplaces are great places to get in some exercise with your pet while you’re away.
It’s a good idea to expand your research to restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and retailers that allow pets as well. This way, you’ll have a good idea of where you can go to eat or shop when your pet is with you, and it will help you budget for your trip as well. Look for spots that have outdoor patios, as these are typically the most likely to allow animals.
Traveling with your pet can be hugely beneficial for both of you and can help you bond with one another even further. It can even help animals who have trouble with anxiety, as getting out and sharing experiences with you may allow him to expand his trust. By preparing as much as possible, you’ll be able to keep your pet safe, healthy, and happy during the trip no matter what your destination is, and you can avoid issues that could make things stressful for you as well.
By Guest Writer — Nick Burton