traveling with pets

Traveling With Pets

Planning a quick road trip for a weekend getaway? Flying across the country to spend a few weeks away from it all? Bringing your pet can make a family vacation feel more like the whole family is there, but if you aren’t prepared, traveling with pets can be stressful. 

If you’re fully prepared, you’ll minimize stress for both you and your pet as you gear up for your travel adventures.

Make Sure Your Pet Is Microchipped

You travel with your pet, ensure that your pet is always wearing a collar with tags that has their name and your mobile phone number on them, as well as a microchip ID. A pet ID microchip is a tiny, passive electronic chip that is placed under the pets’ skin. 

If your pet gets lost, shelters and veterinarians use a scanner to find their microchip and get your pet back to their family. Microchip IDs have helped countless pets reunite with their families. In fact, studies have shown that microchipped pets are more than twice as likely to return to their owners.

Have Your Pet’s Medical Records Ready (And Up To Date)

Gather your pet’s medical records, including their vaccination history and any medications your pet takes. Keep these records with you. You may have to make a visit to your vet to gather this information. 

While you are there, check to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are, in fact, up to date. It’s also a good idea to be sure you have given your pet their monthly flea, tick, and worm preventative before you leave town.

Do Some Dress Rehearsals

Traveling long distances with your pet will either mean an extended time in the car or extended time in a pet carrier. Make some time to do some practice runs, especially if your pet is not familiar with the travel carrier or hasn’t been on car rides outside of those to the vet or groomer. 

Most travel pet carriers come in two pieces, so if your pet seems unsure about the carrier as a whole, set up the bottom half with their bedding, favorite toys, and even treats to get them more comfortable with the idea. Once they have been acclimated to the bottom portion, add the top, and leave the door open. You may be surprised to find your pet choosing to sleep in their new “den” instead of their bed (or even yours)!

Make some shorter trips in the car with your pet, even simply around your neighborhood to start with if they are especially anxious. Offer treats and praise during the ride. As they become more comfortable, take longer trips. 

Gear Up

You’ll want to pack some essential comforts of home for your pet as you would for yourself. Invest in travel water and food bowls, bring favorite toys, and if you are flying, consider putting a shirt of yours in their crate to give them a comforting piece of home on the go. 

Be sure you have a strong leash and harness, even if your pet is usually easygoing – the changes and excitement of travel may send them bolting, and you’ll want to keep them secure.

Check the Rules and Fees

While many airlines, hotels, and even destinations like beaches and trails often have pet-friendly accommodations, many of them also have fees and specific pet policies. Be sure you are aware of how your pet will travel if going by plane, and what sort of fees and policies will be enforced by your hotel. 

Go Pet Friendly is a fantastic resource with listings of pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and even things to do that will include your pet on your travels. 

By the way, we also have a friend of SRVC who runs the local website Dog Friendly Little Rock if your travels keep you a bit closer to Central Arkansas! 

Make Plenty of Pit Stops

Going on a road trip? Remember that your pet will want to get up and stretch their legs every so often. Traveling with pets is not unlike traveling with children — bathroom breaks and time to run around a little need to be accounted for in your driving plans.

Some Important Travel “Don’ts”

Along with these “to-dos”, there are some important things to remember NOT to do when traveling with your pet. Keep these important health and safety “don’ts” in mind as you travel:

  • Don’t sedate your pet. It may seem like a good idea to keep them calm, especially on a longer trip, but sedatives can increase the risk for cardiac or respiratory problems and regulation – particularly during air travel with changes in altitude and pressure.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in a vehicle. (ever.) If you are going to a rest area, take turns staying with your dog while others use the facilities. Never leave your pet in a vehicle alone, especially in extreme temperatures. An open window is often not enough to cool off (and leaves your pet at risk of jumping out) and leaving the vehicle running can be a theft risk. 
  • Don’t get too adventurous with food. Be sure to either pack or account for purchasing more of your pet’s usual food. It may be tempting to share the local “treats” with your pet, especially if they are joining you at pet-friendly restaurants, but remember that too much change in diet can lead to upset stomach and diarrhea.

Traveling with your pet can be a fun adventure, as long as you are prepared. Keep these tips in mind as you gear up for trips. Not sure if your pet is microchipped or up to date on vaccines? Contact us at Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic for an appointment before you travel!

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