Traveling is a stressful activity for most people. You have to pack your stuff, plan transportation, lodging, meals, and hundreds of other aspects to ensure your trip is not a total nightmare.
Now bring your pet into the equation and things get increasingly complicated. Even the shortest trip can become exasperating!
But here’s the thing, this doesn’t have to be your reality. It is possible to travel with your pet in a safe and stress-free way. All you have to do is plan ahead, research your transportation options and make sure your pet is as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.
In this article, you’ll find a quick guide on how to keep your pet safe while you travel. Whether you’re going by road, by train, plane, or boat, these tips can ensure a stress-free trip for all of you!
General Advice When Travelling With Pets
Whether you’re taking a short road trip to a relative’s home a couple of hours away or a 12-hour flight to the other side of the world, some general considerations will make traveling with your pet much more manageable.
Get a Secure Carrier
First things first: before traveling with your pet be sure to purchase a carrier that is certified safe for travel. Try to get this item well in advance so your pet has time to get used to it.
Most cats and dogs dislike carriers. This is especially true if the carrier only comes out right before a trip to the vet!
After buying your carrier, leave it open inside your home and let your pet get used to the idea of hanging out, eating, and sleeping inside of it. Let them sniff and explore it. Maybe put a favorite toy inside and let them come and go in and out of the carrier at will. This will help them feel less threatened by it.
Make sure the carrier is large enough to accommodate your pet. They need to have enough room to turn around in it and they should be able to lie down and sleep comfortably.
You might also consider getting a carrier that has inner compartments for water so your pet won’t tip it over.
Take Your Pet to the Veterinarian Before and After the Trip
It’s crucial that you take your pet for a health checkup before any travel. This will make sure you are up to date with vaccinations and have any and all medications you may need in advance. This is especially important if you are flying. You need to ensure your pet does not have any health conditions that may leave it grounded.
It is worth noting that some breeds of dogs and cats, particularly brachycephalic or short-nosed breeds that are prone to respiratory issues, are banned from flights in some countries. Always get an expert’s advice before traveling with pets.
If your pet is exceptionally nervous it might need sedatives for travel. You and the veterinarian can decide on which tranquilizers to use if any. For some pets, these meds can make things worse.
Once the trip is over, take your pet back to for a routine check-up to make sure that everything is normal.
Keep Your Pet Identified
Owner information should always be easy to find on the pet’s collar and inside the carrier. This will ensure that authorities can quickly find you in the case of an emergency.
Microchips are also an option. Veterinarians can easily implant these chips and they do not do any harm to the animal. They will, however, allow animal shelters, veterinarians and the authorities find your information should your pet get lost.
Keep a Strict Diet During Trips
You do not want to cause any digestive stress in your animal on the trip. Stick to familiar food.
Mixing things up while traveling could not only make a mess but cause serious problems if you find yourself in a location that is far from a vet.
Be sure to keep your pet properly hydrated and, if possible, do not feed them right before you leave. The motion could make them feel sick. An empty stomach will be much more comfortable for your little travel companion.
Short Trips and Staying at Home
For some owners, the idea of leaving their pet at home might seem like a terrible idea, it might actually be the best option.
If you are only planning to be away fro a short period of time, like a few days or a week, the animal might appreciate staying in their own home. You could ask a friend, neighbor or family member to stay with them and make sure they are cared for in your absence. There are also lots of pet sitting services available that provide all the love and care you could ever need.
While it might be stressful for you, being in a familiar and safe environment can be easier on your pet. They will not have to deal with the anxiety that comes from new spaces, loud noises and hundreds of strangers.
If you’re staying for away extended periods, or you can’t live without your pet, make sure the location you’re going to has space and services to accommodate both your needs.
Your Pet and Transportation
Now that you have a general idea about how to prepare for your trip, it’s time to take a closer look at the specifics related to the different types of transportation.
A Road Trip With Your Pet
Traveling by car is probably the easiest way to take your pet on the road. Not only can you supervise your pet, but you can also schedule rest stops whenever you want and make sure your pet’s having a great time!
Always use a carrier. It is not safe to travel with your dog or cat loose in the car. Not only is it dangerous to have them climbing around you and the vehicle, but it is also dangerous for them. If you get into an accident, they will get tossed around.
Remember, never leave your pet alone in the car. Temperatures can rise in a matter of minutes, leading to respiratory distress and potential death.
Train Travels With Pets
Some trains are allowing pets and service animals to travel on board with their owners, making it an excellent way to bring your pet with you in a comfortable fashion.
There may be regulations in regards to carriers and permits that you will need to account for in advance. Luckily, most transportation services and vets should be able to provide with all the information you need.
Traveling With Your Pet by Plane
Air travel is one of the most stressful ways to go for both you and your pet.
In all likelihood, your pet will make the trip in cargo and be confined to the carrier for the duration. Sometimes, smaller pets can be brought in to the cabin but that depends on the airline and the regulations of the country you are travel to or within.
To prevent all sorts of issues make sure you contact the airline directly before buying a ticket for your pet and learning as much as you can about the terms, regulations, and warranties associated with this type of travel.
You may not like the idea of leaving your pet in the cargo hold, it is one of the most common ways to travel with your pet. Airlines are pet and animal associations so they can provide the most humane treatment to your companion while flying. You can rest assured that everyone is working together to make sure your pet arrives safely with you at your destination.
Sailing with Pets
There are very few cruise lines that allow pets on board. And the few that do, have strict rules regarding disembarking with your pet. this is due to the different regulations found in each country. If you bring your pet on a cruise, be prepared to leave them on board.
Be aware that the ships that do allow pets often have limited kennel space and are restricted to cats and dogs, only.
Whether you’re moving to a new country or taking a holiday, traveling with your pet can be a lovely experience if you plan ahead.
It isn’t always easy to move a pet from one place to another. It can cause distress for the animal, the owner, and the other people that are involved along the way. But, if you are relocating or going away for a long period of time, it can be a necessity. In these instances, the best thing you can do is make the whole experience as comfortable as possible.
By following the tips laid out in this guide, and consulting with your veterinarian in advance, you can transport your animal safely and comfortably with as little anxiety as possible.
Have you traveled with your pet before? What advice would you offer fellow travelers? Let us know in the comments.