Listen as Dr. Mindy Cohan talks with Kathy about traveling with your dog or cat.
Traveling with Dogs and Cats
Some of my best vacations included traveling with my dog. Having my dog with me alleviated the typical worries of leaving them with a sitter and I didn’t have to suffer from my own form of separation anxiety. While taking your dog on vacation can be a wonderful experience, there are many problems that can arise if you do not plan ahead.
The first consideration is whether your dog will enjoy the travel experience. If you dog is anxious or prone to car sickness, it is best to leave your dog at home. If you are traveling to a destination where other dogs will be present, be sure your dog gets along well with others.
Dogs prone to motion sickness will not enjoy a family road trip. Signs of motion sickness include drooling, vomiting, lip licking, panting, pacing, restlessness, trembling, and yawning. Fortunately, many young dogs often outgrow motion sickness. The symptoms of motion sickness can be worsened by underlying anxiety. To help minimize a dog’s stress levels, make the car an enjoyable place by providing a favorite blanket or toy. Allow your dog to acclimate by allowing it to spend time in a parked car while eating treats. As your dog develops positive associations with the car, begin to take very short drives, gradually increasing the duration. Consult your dog’s veterinarian regarding medications that can help prevent motion sickness and minimize stress and anxiety.
While most cats are not travel enthusiasts, some cats don’t mind car rides and others may need to travel out of necessity (i.e. owner moving to new home). If you are planning a trip with your feline friend, buy a comfortable and safe pet carrier. A carrier is required for airline travel and it will keep your pet safe in an automobile in case of an accident. Cats that are not accustomed to carriers can become very fearful when confined. Leaving a carrier on the floor with the door open and treats inside can help a cat acclimate before it is needed for travel. Place a comfortable pad or bed inside the carrier and spray it with Feliway, a synthetic pheromone which helps to minimize stress levels in cats.
If you are planning to fly, rather than drive to your destination, arrangements must be made through the airline. Most airlines require a health certificate from a veterinarian within 10 days of a flight. Flying can be stressful for pets that are new to the experience. If you can avoid a flight, driving will probably be more comfortable. Pet owners must thoroughly research the airline rules and regulations well in advance of flying.
If you are not traveling to visit and stay with a family member or friend, choose a pet friendly accommodation and become familiar with the pet policies. Some hotels have weight limitations for visiting dogs. If you plan to travel with your large breed dog, call ahead to make sure it will be welcome. When calling to book your reservation, inquire about added pet fees. Some hotels require that you take your dog with you if venturing out for the day. If you are planning excursions that do not include or allow your dog, be sure it is okay to leave him/her in the hotel room. Hotels which permit your dog to stay unattended sometimes offer dog walking services.
Some preparations for traveling with your pets include:
· copy of vaccine records
· ID tags including cell phone and resort numbers
· adequate supply of regular food, treats, chews, toys
· food and water bowls
· cleaning products in case of accidents
· regular medications
· flea, tick and heartworm preventatives
· first aid kit
· blankets, towels, potty bags, extra leash (dogs)
· harness, leash (cats)
· list of veterinary hospitals en route to and near vacation site
Additional recommendations include a safety harness for the car (http://sleepypod.com/clickit), and a bowl and water for rest stop refreshment. Always be careful when leaving pets in the car at rest stops. Do not leave them if the car is at risk for becoming hot. Since rest stops are highly trafficked, always keep dogs on leash and be cautious when walking near roads.
Although taking a pet on vacation requires moderate preparation, it is well worth the time and effort to have your pet’s company and to enjoy adventures together. Planning carefully will ensure safe and enjoyable travels for all. Happy trails!
For more information, visit:
Dog friendly cities and lodging
Hiking trails open to dogs
Pet friendly travel and lodging