When traveling with your animal companion, whether within the US or internationally, there are several key things to keep in mind to ensure your pet’s safety and well-being during their travel. There is a lot involved, perhaps some things that you haven’t thought of yet, or some things that just seem overwhelming to figure out. This article will help you create a “safety and readiness” checklist to get you easily through the process. After all, more than likely, your travel plans involve some type of vacation, and that is supposed to be fun – not stressful! And if it’s a business trip, you certainly don’t need any more stress!
Domestic and International Travel
When traveling within the United States, you are either going to be driving to your location or flying. Internationally, you are probably flying. There are, of course, different considerations in each case and we’ll look at both although you’ll find that many concerns apply to both.
When traveling by car with your pet, it’s important to crate them for their safety, and for yours. You may not like to crate your dog, but your dog really does not mind as much as you. Sometimes animals actually feel safer in a crate, and they will be calmer and have less anxiety during the trip.
Crates and Carriers
There is a large selection of pet crates and carriers available in most discount stores such as Walmart or Kmart, as well as pet stores such as Pet Supermarket. You can also find great deals on crates and carriers at overstock.com or similar online stores including Amazon. For example, overstock.com carries both soft and hard shell crates (some that are carriers as well), for both large and small dogs. They come in a variety of styles, colors and patterns to match your pet’s personality. These can range in price anywhere from $30 – $100 but are a necessary expense for your travel. I recommend the hard shell case as your pet will most likely feel more secure in a sturdier environment. Try to position the crate in the vehicle so that it does not slide around or move when you accelerate or brake quickly. Remember, the goal is to keep your pet feeling comfortable, without anxiety, throughout your trip.
Also keep in mind that it is not a good idea to let your pet eat before your trip. Most dogs get motion sickness very easily. Take breaks throughout your trip to feed your pet small amounts, providing water as well, and let them take a nice walk before being put back into the crate.
Finally, a really good tip for crating is to make sure to exercise your dog thoroughly before beginning your road trip. If you spend your pet’s energy beforehand, they will be more restful and have less anxiety during the trip.
Shipping and Relocation
If you are traveling by air, some of the above considerations will still apply, but there are additional aspects to be considered. You definitely want to make sure you purchase a sturdy crate for your pet and that they are crated comfortably before entering the airport. Also be sure to check with your airline on their rules for pet travel. They may require a health certificate in order to allow the pet to be boarded.
Don’t forget that your feelings and emotions are most often transferred to your pet. If you are very upset and concerned when you drop off your pet, they will feel that anxiety and it will cause them stress during their travel. Instead, be calm and reassuring, and say goodbye to your dog with a happy voice and no tears!
Speak to your veterinarian regarding any additional concerns you may have. Most importantly, remember that this should be a fun time for both you and your pet. Stay positive, plan ahead and make sure your travel is fun. If it is fun and non-stressful for you, it will be for your pet as well.