January 2nd is National Pet Travel Safety Day. As dog and cat lovers and dog and cat pet parents, we understand how important it is to make certain that when we hit the road with our fur babies that they are as safe in the vehicle as we are! National Pet Travel Safety Day tips are on the agenda for today and it’s perfect timing as we are just kicking off 2019!
Pets are our constant companions and because of that it makes sense that we would travel with them. Whether by plane, train or automobile there are some safety measures pet parents need to be aware of on this, National Pet Travel Safety Day, and year-round.
National Pet Travel Safety Day Tips
There are some pet travel safety tips that may be obvious and those include:
- Make certain your dog or cat is microchipped (and if they are, that your contact information is current).
- If you don’t want to microchip your pet, make sure they wear a collar and a tag with your current contact information on it.
- When you travel don’t let your pet off a leash. It would be easy for them to get frightened and bolt and in an unfamiliar location, it may be next to impossible for you to be reunited.
- Don’t travel to an unfamiliar location without knowing for certain that your pet will be welcomed at the destination and in the accommodations you’ve secured.
- Take your dog and cat to your veterinarian to assure he is healthy enough to travel. If your pet is on medication, fill the prescription so you have enough for the entire trip. Ask for a copy of each of your pet’s medical records and carry them with you on your road trip.
Here are some other pet safety tips to add to your travel plans
Car rides. If your dog is like most, when you say the words, “Want to go for a ride?” he
dashes to your side, dancing in happy joy! If, however your dog doesn’t like riding, you need to accommodate his fear and potential illness. In fact, some pet parents find that their dogs are happier staying home with a friend or trusted pet sitter.
Cats are sometimes ambivalent or truly frantic when it comes to road trips. Know your cat’s comfort level and make accommodations. If you have a cat with whom you want to make road trips, start out when your kitty is young and get her accustomed to riding in a carrier and in a car. Many cats only make their way to a carrier and to a car when they’re going to the veterinarian and they may equate carrier with scary vet and won’t relax in a car.
Getting your dog and cat accustomed to car rides starts when they’re young, or when you’ve adopted them, and you should take frequent trips, even if it’s just around the neighborhood.
Car safety. It may look cute when you see a dog on the lap of a driver and the dog has her head out the window, but it is dangerous on many levels. If the driver is in an accident the dog could be injured by the airbag. A dog with his head out the window could be struck by flying debris and injured. A dog who has access to his own window runs the risk of falling out of the car.
To prevent any injury to your dog put him in a traveling car harness and strap him in safely. If your dog is comfortable in his crate, strap the crate into the seat belt and let your dog ride in there on your road trip. Cats, too, need to be secured while in a vehicle. Let your cat eat her meals in the carrier in the house to let her know the carrier is a safe place where she gets delicious treats. Doing this, and urging your cat to take naps in the carrier turns it into a safe space, not a scary traveling device.
Never leave your pet alone in the car. This is tricky if you’re traveling alone, but you need to find rest stops or areas in which you can take your dog or cat in with you. A dog or cat left alone in a car can easily suffer heat stroke, or hypothermia (depending on when and where you’re traveling) and some pets are even stolen from unattended vehicles. Never leave your pet alone in the car; we cannot stress this enough. Individuals traveling alone need to map out their route and find places that will welcome them and their pets. Individuals who are traveling with another human have it much easier when it comes to stopping at a rest stop as one person will stay in the vehicle while the other runs into the store, then they can switch places.
Roadside safety. When you’re traveling with your dogs and cats, they will need to eventually answer the call of nature. Stopping on a roadside is dangrous for both humans and pets so look for a designated rest stop; if that’s impossible, pull off the road as far as you safely can, turn on your hazard lights and take your dog out the passenger door.
Don’t open the door until your dog has been safely secured to his harness and leash. Opening the doors before you do this could lead to him dashing out of the car and into traffic. If your cats need to use a litter box, you will want to set that up first. Close your doors and windows before you let your cat out of his crate, then let him do his business. Once he’s done, put him back into his carrier before you empty the litter box.
Be a responsible pet owner and clean up after your dog and dump the litter box in a garbage can.
Food and drink. Don’t leave home without your dog’s favorite food. A road trip is not the time to switch foods — that could lead to stomach upset and diarrhea. Bring jugs of water and water bowls for the road trip. Don’t rely on their being a convenience store where you could stop to get water for the family; your dog and cat may be thirsty before you find a store.
Try to feed your pets on their regular schedule, if possible. If you have a dog or cat who gets car sick, you will want to avoid feeding him for at least two hours before you leave for your road trip. Make sure, too that your dog and cat go to the bathroom before you hit the road; this will hopefully alleviate the risk of car sickness.
Other modes of transportation. Plane, train and bus travel. Don’t automatically assume that if you’re buying your train or plane or bus ticket to a far flung location that your pet will be welcome; they may not be. While it is easy to make reservations online for travel, if you’re bringing a pet or more than one pet you should pick up the phone and talk to a customer service representative to find out the rules and regulations for traveling with a pet.
Questions to ask include:
- Are there breed or species restrictions?
- Are there weight size restrictions?
- Are there restrictions on the number of pets one person can travel with?
- Will your pet be able to sit with you or will he need to ride in cargo?
- If your pet has to ride in cargo, you need to decide if you’re comfortable with that, and you also need to know what kind of care your pet will receive and who will provide it. You need to know, too about bathroom and food provisions for pets in cargo.
- What type of medical records and proof do you need to supply?
- Does the pet need to be in a carrier at all times?
- If you’re traveling alone, is the restroom area large enough to accommodate both you and your pet should you need to use it?
- What will it cost to travel with your pet(s)
- Is your pet friendly enough to make a trip packed in with strangers and/or other dogs? You need to know your dog’s tolerance for new situations and people before you make your final decisions on you mode of transportation.
We wish you and your fur babies a happy, prosperous and safe 2019! We’d also love to know your best pet travel safety tips!
Robbi Hess, Woman In The Pet Industry Solopreneur Finalist and award-winning author, is multi-petual. When not caring for her pets or taking them on walks, she is a speaker, efficiency and effectiveness guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof/Crimeless Cat.