Tips: Traveling with Pets

When traveling with pets in extremely hot weather: Check out the air conditioning unit in your car for functionality before traveling. Use a fan that plugs into the cigarette lighter as well. Place ice cubes into a sealed plastic bag and tie it in front of the duct of the air conditioner, passing the cool air over the ice – makes a swamp cooler affect. Use freezer blocks, (used for picnic coolers) – place a large freezer block under your pet, with a sheet between the block and pet. Check to make sure your pet isn’t shivering – just comfortable from the blocks. It goes without saying, to keep plenty of fresh, cool drinking water available for your pet at all times. Also apply sunshades to back windows and the tailgate window (the kind you can see out of to drive safely).

Before you go, gather information regarding veterinarians in the area of your destination:

  • Ask your own vet if s/he has any associates in the area.
  • Check with members of newsgroups on the web for vets who are trusted and low cost. Rescue groups often have this information, and many are very involved with newsgroups.
  • Check on hours of availability. You may need to have two names handy, one for normal hours, and one for after hours emergencies.
  • Keep the address and phone number of the vets you’ve found with your vaccination records.
  • This may be a good time to obtain medical insurance for your companion animal.

Animals can very well suffer jet lag. Basically, it works the same as it does with humans. Keep your pets active and in the sunlight, keep habits the same, and don’t allow them to oversleep.

There is a great series of books: On The Road Again with Man’s Best Friend, by Dawn and Robert Habgood. They actually go out and check out all the B&Bs;, inns, and hotels that they recommend and write about in their regional guides. I have the New England one and it is great – 2 to 3 page descriptions on each of the places. They also have a huge 900-page United States version.

Long international flights can be as hard on your dog as they are on you. If you have long layovers (more than two hours) think about checking your pet to that destination and picking it up. Many European airports allow you to walk about with your pet on a leash – so it’s a nice break for the dog to get out and walk and be with you. Take a care kit in your carry on – bottled tap water from your home, baby wipes (good for accidents or when something “comes up” – they are non- toxic and leave a nice smell behind), a small brush for drool mats, and a cookie or treat. Place a shirt or some socks that have been well worn by you (i.e. odiferous) in your pet’s carrier. It’s a big comfort. If you’ll be staying overseas for a while, try to stick to your routine as much as possible. Keep walks on the same schedule. Find food that’s as similar as possible to what your pet eats at home. Most of the pet stores and supermarkets in Germany, where I lived, had the major supermarket and premium brands. Take advantage of the fact that many establishments allow (well-behaved) dogs inside. Most of all, travelling with your pet can be a pleasant experience for you and your pet if you remember to PLAN AHEAD!! Don’t buy your carrier or plane tickets at the last minute. Call the airlines and get SPECIFIC information about requirements AND charges. Not all airlines charge the same amount for the same size dog and costs can be high. Get the proper certifications for both your origination and destination, descriptions of which are available from the USDA/APHIS website. And certainly, gauge your travel plans on your pet’s needs and personality. Bon voyage and good luck to all you animal lovers!

It is important that your pet have ID tags at all times. Our pets all have ID tags with our home number and address on them. We also include our RV license plate number on their tags, as we use our RV a lot during the summer. I have made “shrink it” tags as well. These are simple tags made using the craft “shrink it” sheets. I have made several “blanks” and I put their name and the name of the campground, camping site number and the phone number of the RV park or campground on these tags and punch holes in the top. I then put them in the oven and they “shrink” to a regular ID tag size. These are inexpensive to use and easy to create for each site you visit. If your pet should get loose while in an RV site these tags give your current location. Additional information may be placed on the tags, i.e. the address, etc. of your next destination. These tags helped us recover our dog who broke loose from his leash. He was found by another RVer in our campground who commented on how easy it was to find us because his tag contained our site number. We also use these tags when we are visiting relatives or friends and the dogs are with us. There are “professional” tags like these available, but this is an easy, inexpensive method. “Shrink It” sheets are available at most craft stores and cost about $3.99 for 10 sheets (8 1/2 X 11). You trace your outline on the sheets, write your information using a permanent marking pen, cut them out and place on a cookie sheet at 250 degrees for about 10 minutes.

When traveling with cats, always make sure that their carrier is clean and fresh. Line the bottom of the carrier with about a centimeter of newspaper. Then put an old blanket or towel on top. Remember to pack fresh newspaper and old towels or blankets in a bag, so that every time you stop you can put in fresh newspaper and a blanket if necessary. When the time comes, close all windows and doors, then take your cat out of the carrier and clean it. Wash the bottom, put in new paper and a clean blanket, and then put your cat back in. You must do this all ONLY when the car is parked. If you want to take your cat outside to stretch, make sure to have a leash and harness handy. DO NOT let your cat off the leash – he will run away and try to find your house. If you are going to be traveling in the car for more than 2 hours, make sure you bring a container of fresh, cool water. Remember to stop a few times during the trip to give him a drink of water. If you do this all right your cat should be very calm and relaxed during the trip. If he gets calm enough you may let him sit on your lap, but the windows have to be shut. Just keep the air conditioning on.

Before you travel with a pet, be sure that it is well protected against loss. Have in place a system that allows to others connect your pet back to you. If your pet goes missing in a strange place you will want to be prepared. Creatures Global Pet Registry provides a comprehensive system for protecting your pet against loss. They provide your pet’s finder with an easy method of contacting you by phone or through the net without compromising your privacy. Creatures Global also supplies a web profile for your pet in the searchable database with links to all the major shelters, a package including an ID tag, posters, fliers, a guide booklet and more.

When travelling with your dog by air, it is easy to put a stubborn dog in its kennel by backing it in. It is a natural reaction for a dog to push backwards in defense; thus walking itself backwards into the cage. If you try to push it forward into the cage, the dog will resist by pushing backwards.

Acclimate your pet. Be certain that your pet is accustomed to traveling in a car. If not, try a series of shorter trips before taking a long one.

Before driving. Feed your pet lightly before beginning the trip, about one third of their normal amount. Save the remainder and feed it once you’ve reached your destination.

While driving. If the weather is warm, use your air conditioning. Always make sure that air is being circulated frequently. Restrain your pet, using a pet seat belt or secured carrier. Never let your pet ride unrestrained in the back of a truck. Don’t allow your pet to stick its head out the window. Take breaks at least every three hours to allow your pet to exercise and relieve itself.

During rest stops. Don’t allow your pet to run loose at rest areas. A pet can become lost, run into traffic, or get involved in a fight with another animal. Never leave your pet unattended in the car for any amount of time, especially during warm or cold weather. A car parked in the sun can quickly become overheated – and shade moves. Additionally, your pet can become a target for theft. If you want to leave your car for any length of time and can not bring your pet, contact a local kennel or veterinarian for their day rates.

If staying at a small establishment that accepts pets, it is good to find out how many OTHER animals, (dogs, cats, etc.) will be there at the same time. That way you know what to expect upon arrival at your destination.

When we travel in the car with our pets for fairly long distances, we use the “nothing in nothing out theory”. If you do not feed or water your animal right before you leave, they are less likely to need frequent stops. They are more comfortable, not needing to make frequent potty stops.

Vacationing with your pets can be extremely rewarding if you take the time to do some research in advance. If your pets will be staying with you in your room here are some of the questions you should ask when making your reservation:

  • Do you accept pets? Guide books and hotel directories are a great resource but pet policies change often so you should always verify the current policy. Are there any pet fees or deposits? Are they per pet or per room? Are they daily or one time only? Is the deposit refundable?
  • Am I limited to certain type rooms? I recently stayed in a hotel that would only let us have a smoking room. Many places will also limit you to a street view.
  • Are there any areas that I can’t go with my pet? I once stayed in a hotel that allowed the dog in the room only, we had to walk them in a grassy area in front of a neighboring restaurant.
  • Do you offer anything special for pets? There are places that cater to those traveling with their pets, so it doesn’t hurt to ask. There are 5 star resorts that offer pet sitting, pet walking, welcome gifts and room service items.
    Make sure that if you must transport your pet in a kennel that the kennel is large enough for it to stand up, lie down, and turn around.Your pet may need a health certificate from your veterinarian before travelling. Check with the appropriate authorities to ensure that you comply with all regulations well in advance of your travel date.

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