As the holiday season quickly approaches, many people are looking to either get away from the cold weather or visit their loved ones. But traveling with a pet can sometimes be more difficult and expensive than traveling with a newborn baby. Pets can become agitated during long rides and somehow escape from their carriers, which can lead to fatal injuries. They can also get lost or stolen during transportation as well. We spoke with Top Dog Resort owner Linda Lecher for tips to make sure you and your pet have the best time possible.
Pets can suffer from anxiety and sometimes free themselves from their carriers during travel. One way to prevent this is to practice with your dog before traveling. “Put them in a holder and let them adjust to it,” Lecher says. Also allow them some time to adjust to the climate change and their new surroundings when you get to your destination before moving along to your next location.
Some may be tempted to get a prescription to help calm a pet’s nerves, but pets should not be drugged. The drugs may slow down their heart rate and cause fatal respiratory problems while in the air if you are traveling by plane. “Most airlines will not take a pet if they have taken medication,” Lecher says. “You must wait at least 48 hours for the medication to leave the animal’s system, and you have to get a veterinarian to sign off before getting on a plane.”
Road trips are a lot safer for pets than air travel, but precautions should still be taken. Just like on an airplane, pets should be restrained during the drive. Do not let your dog put its head out of the window because it can nauseate them and hurt their eyes. “Letting your pet roam around freely can be distracting for the driver and can lead to serious injury,” Lecher says. You should either purchase a car seat or a crate to put your pet in during the drive, but make sure the seat is anchored down and elevated to prevent motion sickness.
You should feed your pet a hearty meal at least four or five hours before you leave and try to give them as little food as possible during the drive as pets do not digest well while in motion. “If you have to feed your pet during the drive, pull over and allow them some time to walk around and digest the food,” says Lecher, who also says that keeping your pet hydrated is important as well.
“Before making travel plans, know if it is better for the pet or the owner,” says Lecher. Traveling can be exhausting for the pet, and they will never be able to adjust to their new surroundings if you are going on a short trip.
For short trips, it is cheaper and better to have your pet stay at someone’s home or put them in a kennel. “Pets are happier in homes,” Lecher says. “It is better and cheaper to put them in a home than in a kennel.”
If you do not know someone who can take care of your pet, ask your veterinarian. Veterinarians may refer you to someone who can take care of your pet and give it the attention that it needs. If you decide to go with a kennel, you should know that price is not everything. “Just because the price is higher does not mean that the facility will be nicer or pay close attention to your pet,” says Lecher. “Call the kennel, ask about the facility, visit the facility, and if your travel plans were to change, ask when you could pick up your pet.”