Holiday travel is great fun with happy travelers and a little preparation will help ensure tails are wagging when you get to Grandma’s house.
Safe travel starts with pets having proper identification. If you get separated from your pet, a current ID tag and/or microchip is crucial for a happy reunion. If your pet has any medical conditions, it’s a good idea to take a copy of your vet records in case there are any unexpected trips to a new veterinary office.
Another part of traveling safely is a restraint system for your dogs. Numerous studies have shown that pets and humans are safer when animals ride in crates, with seat belts or with a pet barrier (although pet barriers do more to protect humans than pets in the event of an accident). If using a seat belt, make sure it is attached to a harness, never a collar. Pets should be familiar with restraints before taking a long car ride.
What to pack
Dogs should get a water and potty break about every three hours. A collapsible bowl for water is convenient and space-saving and don’t forget the poop bags! It’s not a good idea to change your pet’s diet while traveling, so either take enough pet food with you or check in advance with the local pet supply store to make sure they carry what you need. Sudden diet changes, combined with new and stressful situations, can lead to gastrointestinal issues – something everyone wants to avoid!
Getting ready to ride
Enthusiastic travelers are great, but it is a good idea to drain some energy before loading in the car. A long walk, then a good chew toy on the road, is usually enough to make an experienced rider happy. Nervous riders present more of a challenge and take a bit more effort. Some pets don’t like car rides due to motion sickness. These pets usually travel better on an empty stomach and facing forward in the car. There are many natural supplement to help combat motion sickness in pets and you can talk to your veterinarian about prescription options as well.
Dogs that have car ride anxiety can often be conditioned to enjoy the ride. Well before the big day, start by taking tiny trips to places your dog will enjoy like the park, a friend’s house, the latté stand to get a free cookie, etc. Any place that will build a positive association between cars and fun will build confidence is your little traveler. Some pets are so anxious that just getting in the car, getting a treat and some affection, then getting out is enough of a first step. Often, pets only take car rides to go to the vet or somewhere scary and they never learn that cars can transport them somewhere exciting. Natural supplement and veterinary medications can also helpful for anxious pets.
Once the car is loaded and the presents are packed, give your pets the chance to stretch their legs and you’re off. Familiar bedding and a tempting chewy for the road will encourage patient traveling. Once you’ve reached your destination, a little walk before entering new accommodations will encourage calm, respectful greetings and discourage unwanted behavior like jumping and marking.
A road trip with pets take a little planning, but holidays are happier when nobody is left behind. Happy holidays!
This article was provided by Cobber’s Pet Pantry, 1415 Blake St. in Enumclaw. The shop can be reached at 360-825-7387. Website: cobberspetpantry.com.