Traveling with pets is on the rise. And because we’re happier and healthier when we’re together—that’s a good thing!
Careful planning and the right travel gear is what you’ll need to ensure a great, safe trip. So today I’m sharing some of my favorite tips, gear and online pet travel resources to help you prepare your journey together.
Before you depart
Practice makes purr-fect. If the only traveling your dog or cat does is to the vet, then you’ll need to expose them to some short, fun trips before your official departure. Try these tips:
- Put their kennel or carrier out where they can see and smell it and get used to its presence, days or weeks before you leave.
- Take your dog on a quick ride to the park or a pet-friendly restaurant. For cats, a few short rides around town will acclimate them to their carrier and your vehicle.
- If you have an anxious traveler, try one of the many all-natural calming solutions on the market. Chilly has taken up wearing Buck’s Calming Collar while in the car on long trips. Designed to reduce pet anxiety, the collar is adorable! It’s filled with a blend of dried herbs like lavender and chamomile—it smells amazing. Pets with anxiety that don’t respond to natural solutions should see their veterinarian.
- Make sure your pet is wearing an up-to-date ID tag with your cell phone number—preferably, a digital ID tag like PetHub. Pets in unfamiliar surroundings are nervous and could easily bolt….and you want to find them quickly if this happens. A microchip is great too, but a digital tag will return him faster.
Don’t forget to bring your pet’s medications and important veterinary records, just in case. VitusVet is a free mobile app that allows users access to their pets’ complete medical records at any time and offers a search option to find the closest veterinary emergency clinic –crucial when traveling. For download information, please see the end of the post.
Book in advance
Whether traveling by car or by air, chances are you may need to make some important reservations to accommodate your pet along the way. BringFido.com can assist you in finding places along your travels that will welcome your pet.
- Book a pet-friendly hotel in advance of your journey. Be sure to ask about the pet policy—what does it allow or not allow? Are there restrictions? Is there a place to walk and play with your pooch nearby? What fees are associated with your pet’s stay, if any?
- If you’re flying to your final destination, be sure to book early. Commercial airlines limit the number of pets per flight (both in cabin and in cargo).
- Most airlines require a health certificate for your pet dated within 10 days of your trip. International flights may have more rigorous requirements.
- Whenever possible, fly direct! Layovers and change of planes can increase anxieties for both you and your pet.
- In the winter months, try to fly mid-day when temperatures are not as cold. In summer months, just the opposite—fly early or late in the day to avoid temperature extremes.
- Outfit the crate for comfort and safety. Line the crate with a pad that’s both warm and comfy, but won’t bunch up in a corner with your pet’s movement. We love the therapeutic pad from Back on Track. It has ceramic fibers infused into the fabric, which radiate your pet’s own body heat back to them to comfort their joints. Remember, your dog or cat may be sitting or lying in that crate for long periods of time. This pad will keep them warm and prevent stiffness and discomfort.
- Personally, I wouldn’t put my own dog in the cargo hold of an airplane. But, many people do so without incident and some airlines are always making efforts to better accommodate pet passengers and to give pet parents peace of mind.
- If this is a first trip for your pet in the belly of the plane, speak to your vet about calming solutions that will not upset you pet’s tummy, nor hinder their ability to control balance and maneuverability while in their crate. Your dog might actually be in more danger if they are too drugged up to control their own physical movement. Natural calming remedies may be the best option.
Restrain pet passengers for auto travel! A pet allowed to move about the vehicle is a double danger. First, they can become a driver distraction when climbing into your lap or bouncing about from front to back seat. Or, should you brake quickly or have an accident, an unrestrained pet becomes a flying object potentially injuring themselves and other passengers.
- Small dogs and cats can ride comfortably and safely in a sturdy carrier. Purchase one that can be buckled into your vehicle’s seat belt system to prevent it from movement in a quick stop or an accident. Sleepypod makes a pawesome carrier that doubles as a comfy pet bed, and it’s designed to be buckled into the seat belt system.
- Medium-to-larger dogs should be restrained in the backseat with a harness that buckles into your seat belt to prevent them from being thrown in the examples mentioned above. Chilly wears the Clickit Sport Harness by Sleepypod because it’s super safe (5-star safety rating from Center for Pet Safety), comfy and doubles as a walking harness.
- Drooling and panting excessively during travel can lead to dehydration so ensure your pet has water in his crate. We use a Torus Ultimate Pet Water Bowl because it’s a bowl and a bottle of water in one! Plus, it self dispenses filtered water as your pet drinks. It won’t spill and you can lock the flow to carry the bowl elsewhere, without a drippy mess.
- If you prefer your pet travel in a cargo area in the back of an SUV, a large crate is a comfy, safe option. Use the Back on Track therapeutic pad (mentioned above) to keep your critter comfy and warm. Remember, this pad actually reduces stiffness and sore muscles from prolonged sitting or lying down.
- Remember, a tired pet is a good passenger. Be sure to stop every 4-5 hours for walks or playtime (and potty breaks).
When you arrive
It’s important to give your pet alone time when at a new location as a guest, in his crate or bed with his favorite toy or chew. New people and unfamiliar homes or surroundings can be stressful for pets and they’ll feel comfortable in a familiar place with a familiar toy.
Finally, enjoy each other’s company!
Do you have any favorite travel gear or great tips to share with others? Tell me about them in the comments.
Travel Gear We Dig
Pawesome Online Travel Resources