Car Travel with Pets
The end of the year holidays are fast approaching and whether you are traveling to celebrate Christmas with family, or traveling home from school for the semester break you may want to travel with your pets as opposed to leaving them behind. If you choose automobile travel with pets there are a number of items you should give some thought and preparation to before taking off. I gathered up some tips about traveling with different species of pets. I have been traveling with pets since I was a little girl and took my pet guinea pig on vacation.
Taking your dog or dogs with you is not that uncommon. People travel with dogs in the car, more and more. We have taken our dogs on vacation to the beach, mountains, in an RV and to our parents homes. We have stayed with our dogs in hotel rooms. The process starts long before you pack up the car and buckle up. Begin by making sure your pet is healthy. A checkup by a veterinarian, updated shots and a clean bill of health are necessary in some places and in some states.
*Request a copy of the health check up or a health certificate, the vaccination record and proof of Rabies vaccine. We carry this paper work with us, just in case.
*Take short rides in the car with your dog. Don’t make the vacation trip the first time your dog goes for a ride of any length of time. Excessive drooling, anxiety and barking can occur with a dog who is stressed over being in a car. Make the practice trips short and positive experiences. Don’t feed the dog right before getting into the car. Some dogs will vomit due to anxiety and nervousness.
*Socialize your dog to different surroundings, people and smells, while maintaining a positive attitude, yourself. Make traveling and new experiences a positive activity for your dog. Allow the dog to get used to eliminating both on and off of a leash, and not just in his own yard. (of course, this will require that you carry a bag to remove waste from public places.)
*Train your dog to stay in the car until you give the command to exit. There is nothing scarier than your dog leaping from the car while you are trying to get his leash on and bolting off in a strange location.
*Have a crate or carrier available. You may not want to travel with your dog in a carrier but it can be safer, for you and the dog. In the case of larger dogs, you may want to confine the to the back seat so that they don’t try to climb on you while you are driving. There are many types of pet restraints available on the market and I would recommend that you have something available. If an accident or unexpected delay occurs and the trip is lengthened having a crate may make the trip with Fido more enjoyable. Remember, dogs may react differently in different situations. Being prepared with a safe place for your dog to be confined can prevent a stressful problem if the trip doesn’t go as planned.
*If the trip is longer than one day, make a reservation with a pet friendly hotel. Taking a chance that there will be a room when you arrive is risky. The hotel probably doesn’t have a lot of rooms that it rents to people with pets. The ones we have stayed at have a block of rooms that are designated pet friendly. In addition, the day you are traveling, call ahead to check on the reservation and remind the desk clerk that you are bringing your dog. Better to be safe and prepared on this. You may want to check out this site for pet friendly hotel recommendations.
*Don’t leave your dog alone in the car. Heat and cold can both build up in a car, becoming intensified, and cause death.
*Feed the dog at least two to three hours before leaving home. Give him ample time to do his thing in the yard before getting in the car. Remember, he knows something is up by now and will be a little agitated and nervous. Give him extra time to walk and eliminate before taking off on your trip.
You are on your way! How often should you stop for stretches and breaks?
Most experts say stop every three hours to walk the dog and offer a small drink of water. I also say, why wake a sleeping dog! If your dog seems comfortable and is sleeping the trip away, I would stretch it out to four hours and see if he is stiff when you stop. If your dog appears stiff, then shorten the duration between stops.
When and Where to Stop
Keep both your safety and your pets comfort in mind when choosing where to stop.
A busy noisy truck stop may not be the best choice for a high strung nervous dog. Their ears are so sensitive to loud noises and trucks are loud. Not to mention there may be lots of other dogs around. Sometimes we look for a smaller place to stop and get fuel and walk the dog in a near by grassy area. Most of the time no one will object to a well mannered dog on a leash as long as you clean up after the dog.
Expect the Unexpected
Your dog may not act the same way he does at home in his own surroundings. Dogs that normally stay right by your side, may decide to take off if startled, or if they see another dog or a wild animal. Make sure the collar is snug but not too tight, and that you keep a good hold on the leash.
Staying in Hotel Rooms
I find this challenging. Any time I have stayed in a hotel room with our dogs, we have not slept much because the dog would bark every time he heard someone in the hotel hallway. In order to be considerate, I felt the need to hush the dog every time this happened. I couldn’t blame him. He was just trying to protect us. Sometimes, background noise such as the television or a radio can distract or muffle the outside noises but then you might need ear plugs for yourself! I am just relaying this information as I was surprised that the dog wasn’t as tired as I was! So just be aware that this can happen.
Car sickness or Motion sickness
When our Irish Setters were puppies, they always got sick when riding in the car. They drooled so much that they became nauseous . The veterinarian recommended low dose of benedryl antihistamine to control the excessive saliva and that worked well for us. Eventually they got used to the drives and we didn’t have any further problems when they were adult dogs. There are also prescriptions that your vet may recommend. Taking short trips to allay the anxiety may be all it takes for your dog to get past car sickness.
What to Pack for the Dog
|Bring a current photo of your dog, in case he gets lost in an unfamiliar area
being walked. Use a regular flat collar with engraved ID tag and a tag with the phone number of where you are heading. Put your mobile number on the permanent tag so you can be reached. Micro chipping is also a good idea.
|Vaccine record, health certificate|
|Favorite toy or two
|Any medications that your pet may need|
|Leash /collar/ harness ** do not leave choke collars on your pet when not|
|A roll of paper towels and plastic bags for cleaning up from car sickness or poopy pickup|
|Food and water * Bring water from home. Using water you get along the way may lead to upset stomach. We usually bring our own water or use bottled water.|
Traveling with Reptiles, Rodents, Birds and other small animals.
As I said in the beginning, I have traveled with a guinea pig. I have also had the pleasure of traveling with a snake, and cats. For all small critters, except maybe the cat, your main concern will be keeping them warm enough. Reptiles, rodents and small birds need warmth. The second biggest concern would be escape. My recommendation is to transport the animals in a small carrier that can be secured. In the case of the reptiles, cover the carrier with a heavy blanket and place in a draft free part of the car. The snake will most likely sort of hibernate and burrow under the bedding. As soon as you get to the hotel or your destination, take the snake inside and plug in the heat lamp. The same is basically true of rodents and small birds.
Traveling with your cat may be good if you normally take your cat out in the yard for walks and it is very house trained. The cat that sprays or marks territory may not be the best house guest to take along on a trip. That smell is hard to clean off of furniture and carpet. In addition, another concern of mine would be that the cat would spook at something at claw its way our of your arms in order to run off. It might be a good idea to invest in a harness and leash for the cat and a good carrier, if you must travel with your cat.
Even though I have been successful traveling with many small animals, I do believe it is best, when possible, to leave them in the care of a trusted friend or neighbor. Most small animals and cats can do quite well being checked on and cared for one time per day.
No matter what animal friend you bring with you when you visit family and friends, remember to be a considerate guest. Clean up the property and any indoor area that the pet is allowed access to, completely.
Until Next time Safe Travels!
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