Travel Tails: A Ruff Guide to Vacationing with Pets
Photo © annette shaff/fotolia.com.
Ready to hit the road with your pet? Before you go, you have a lot to consider. “Anxiety is the biggest hurdle,” says Dr. Brad Cahoon, DVM, CVA, and owner of Veterinary Healing Center of El Dorado Hills and Folsom who suggests exposing the pet to things she’ll experience while traveling, such as being in a crate or being around new people and environments. “Many animals just don’t like traveling in planes, trains and automobiles,” says Bob Campbell, owner of sBarkles, a do-it-yourself dog wash store with holistic, healthy dog and cat food in Folsom, who recommends a product called Rescue Remedy for Pets as a “natural stress relief.”
The most important thing to remember when traveling with pets—whether camping, going to the beach or to the city—is planning ahead with your itinerary in mind. “Stopping for dinner? Where will Fido stay while you eat?” asks Jason Davis, The Dog Guy® of Folsom Dog Resort and Training Center “One of the biggest challenges is being able to do the things you want to do with your pets [there],” says Karen Petree of Happy Feet Pet Sitting noting that while many hotels and restaurants are becoming pet friendly, not all venues are suitable for them. “While on a recent trip to Florida, I noticed some boardwalks and beaches weren’t pet friendly,” she says. “Who will watch your dog while you do go somewhere that isn’t pet friendly?”
Other pet owners can be great resources when it comes to getting advice and travel recommendations. “When traveling with dogs, people really need to research where they’re going,” says Erin Selover, owner of Wagger’s Pet Spa in Folsom, who recommends checking websites like bringfido.com to find pet-friendly stops on your trip. Selover, who often travels with her golden retriever Jolie, also reminds pet owners to know their dog’s behavior. “If the dog is not socialized with other pets, that can be a problem,” she says.
Road Trip TipsIf a road trip is your plan, here’s what you need to know.
1. TAKE TEST DRIVES
Get your dog used to being in the car, especially if your pet is a skittish traveler. “By taking smaller trips and continually rewarding and reinforcing good behaviors, your pet will eventually associate trips in the car with a fun, positive and rewarding time,” says Campbell. “Utilizing a special treat that they normally don’t receive can be of assistance in these instances as well.”
2. PACK THE RIGHT SUPPLIES
Fill a bag with essentials for your pet. Selover recommends a travel bowl, toys, food and water. Also, “make sure there is adequate space in the vehicle for Fido to travel comfortably,” Davis says.
3. DON’T LEAVE PETS INSIDE THE CAR UNATTENDED
When you exit the vehicle, so does your pet. “Be aware that you can’t leave a dog in the car when it’s over 70 degrees,” says Selover. “Heat can kill.” Remember to take frequent potty breaks, too. “Keep your pet hydrated before and during travel,” Dr. Cahoon urges.
4. BE SAFE
Keep your pet safe while you travel. “There are terrific harness systems available for dogs at both ezydog.com and kurgo.com,” says Campbell. “These companies are really, really good at designing products like harnesses and barriers that work in almost all automobiles.” The Humane Society of the United States urges drivers to use restraints so pets don’t roam in the car, and don’t let your pet sit in the front seat, where they could be injured if the air bag deploys. Allowing your pet to ride in an open truck bed is also a no-no.
5. FEND OFF PESTS
“Make sure your dog is current on flea and tick medicine when traveling,” says Selover, who recommends keeping your dog out of brushy areas (where pests are abundant) and inspecting the pet’s coat thoroughly for fleas and ticks.
Air Travel Tricks
Flying to your destination? Here are five tips to help you and your pet navigate the skies.
1. BOOK EARLY
“Book flights early because there is a limit for how many pets can travel on one flight,” says Davis, noting ticket prices for a pet “can cost anywhere from $125-$200 per ‘seat’”—whether or not the dog is flying freight or in the cabin. Davis says smaller dogs are typically allowed inside the cabin, while larger pets are considered cargo and travel in a crate with the luggage.
2. BE IN THE KNOW
“Flights are often delayed or canceled during the travel season,” says Davis. “Make sure you have talked to the airline and understand what will happen with Fido in the event your flight is delayed or canceled.”
3. UPDATE YOUR CONTACT INFO
The Humane Society recommends traveling with a current photo of your pet. They also suggest labeling the pet’s carrier with your name, permanent address, phone number, travel destination, and where you can be reached when the flight arrives.
4. KEEP UP-TO-DATE RECORDS
“No matter which mode of travel, be sure to get the necessary copies of your pet’s vaccination records,” Davis says.
5. FLY DIRECT
Opt for direct flights if you can, which can minimize the travel time for you and your pet. What’s more, direct flights minimize the likelihood of delays since you’re not waiting for connecting flights.
Tips for Leaving Pets at Home
1. LEAVE PETS WITH MOBILITY ISSUES AT HOME
Don’t travel with pets who “don’t move around well or have medical conditions,” Dr. Cahoon says.
2. RESEARCH THE FACILITY AND STAFF
If your pet will be boarded at a pet care facility while you’re away, make sure the space and staff meet high standards. Take a tour and get to know the staff before you book your pet’s stay. “Ask about the staff’s training and make sure you can trust the company,” says Davis, who advises making sure the facility “is insured and has a good safety record.”
Pets thrive on routines, so staying at home might be a comfort for your dog. “They won’t have the stress of going to an unfamiliar place, such as a boarding facility, if they are left in the comfort of their own home,” Petree says.
4. CONSIDER HIRING A SITTER
If you don’t know someone who will stay with or check in on your pet, hire a pet sitter. “Many pet sitters are very flexible, and some will spend the night in your home if that is your wish while traveling,” says Campbell. “Some will simply come twice a day to feed/water your pet and ensure they’re safe.” Make sure the pet knows (or has at least met) the sitter to safeguard that they’ll be comfortable.
5. CALL ME
Give your sitter or facility staff all of your contact information, as well as details about your pet, such as their preferred schedule, food and treats, along with medications, if needed.