With summer vacation just around the corner, many families want to bring their pets with them on family road trips. Preparing in advance for all of your pet’s needs will ensure that everyone, including Fido has a good experience away from home.
· Your pet’s health comes first! Make an appointment to see your veterinarian prior to traveling. If your pet gets anxious or motion sick, there are medications that can help make your trip go as comfortably as possible. Pet’s vaccines should be up to date. Some states require health certifications to travel with pets over state lines. These health certifications can be acquired through your veterinarian. This is also a good time to make sure your pet’s tags have accurate information and that their microchip is registered appropriately. Also, be sure to check your pet’s prescriptions. If you are running low, they can be refilled at the time of the appointment. Don’t forget heartworm/flea prevention!
· Before getting the car, consider where your pet is going to ride. Many dogs and cats do best when placed safely in the back of the vehicle in a crate. There are many different types of safety harness that work with your seat belt system that straps your dog safely in case of an accident. Alternatively, there are some beds (like sleepypod carriers) that convert from a bed to travel carrier that also strap into your car’s seat belt system. Riding in a lap or free roaming in the car can be dangerous for your pet if you were to get into an accident.
· If possible, map out your trip in advance. If your family is driving, find places to take stretch/potty breaks. If our dog is resting comfortably for a few hours into your trip, then seems unsettled or anxious, he may be indicating that he needs to relieve himself. Rest stops is also a good time to offer water to your pet.
· If your trip is going to take more than a few hours, consider packing snacks/lunches for your family so you don’t have to stop at restaurants to eat. Don’t forget to bring meals for your pet!
· Before you leave on your trip, map out where there are pet friendly lodging along your route. Be sure to check the fine print! Some facilities have restrictions on breeds, number of pets, and maximum weight. Regardless of the temperature outdoors, it is never ok to leave an animal in a parked car, even if the windows are rolled down.
· One way you can ensure you won’t forget any of the essentials is to pack your pet’s travel bag in advance. Be sure to include toys, treats, waste bags, pre-measured food, food bowls, and bedding). For extra piece of mind, pack a first aid kit in case any emergencies should arise.
Traveling with your pet takes a little preparation in advance, but is totally worth having the experience of having your furry family members along for the adventure!
- Dr. Melissa Guard, DVM