June through August is peak travel season, and while you’re brimming with excitement over your summer vacation, your pet might not be as thrilled. The good news is that more and more Americans are traveling with pets, so if leaving your pet behind causes anxiety for you or your furry friend, traveling together is an option. Keep the following tips in mind if you plan to bring your pet along on your next adventure:
- First and foremost, if your pet has never been in the car for more than 30 minutes, you don’t want to jump right into a 12 hour drive. Start by taking some time to help your pet acclimate to the car experience by going on some shorter, practice rides. You could even try a few short sessions of sitting in the car without ever leaving the driveway, rewarding calm behavior with treats and encouragement. Practice and preparation will make road trips a better experience for you and your pet.
- Keep your pet in a seatbelt secured carrier or kennel where there is enough space to sit, stand, and turn around. If you choose to forgo the kennel, use a harness and secure it to a seatbelt. Your dog jumping into the front seat and onto your lap puts you at an increased risk of an accident. We like the Guardian Gear front-seat Vehicle Barrier for keeping dogs in the backseat, and you can find them at all VBSPCA locations
- Pack a pet travel kit with food, a travel bowl, harness, waste bags, grooming supplies, medication, first-aid, and any travel documents. You might also want to have your favorite mellow music playlist ready to go, which can help calm your pet’s nerves. You’ll want to avoid feeding your pet within three hours of departing to reduce the risk of car sickness. If you know you’re pet has a tendency of becoming car sick, your vet may be able to prescribe anti-nausea medicine or sedatives. When planning your route, schedule time to stop for bathroom breaks every two to three hours. And of course, never leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle.
- If you are taking to the friendly skies, most airlines will allow smaller pets to travel in-cabin, under the seat in front of you, in a USDA-approved pet carrier. Airlines charge $125 on average for pet travel, and your pet will count as your carry-on item. Some airlines will still permit larger dogs to travel in a kennel in the cargo hold, but this is becoming significantly less common, and is not something that we would recommend. Additionally, health certification and vaccinations records need to be dated within ten days of your departure. If you are headed overseas, review the policies of the country you are visiting well ahead of time to make sure you don’t miss anything. Not all airlines permit pets on international flights and pet requirements differ from country to country. Finally, make sure you have an up to date photo of your pet in the event of any baggage mishaps.
Bon Voyage and best wishes for happy trails!