Your pets are way more than just animals that live in your house – they’re members of your family! Because of this, you want to be able to experience life with them and have the freedom to take them with you wherever you go - including when you go traveling.
Did you know that 19% of dog owners in a recent study took their dog on holiday with them? Nowadays, it’s more than acceptable to take your pet away with you, whether it’s on a weekend getaway, a road trip or even if you’re flying overseas.
However, travel can be stressful for pets, as they often don’t like unfamiliar environments, strange sights, sounds, and smells. It’s important to do everything you can to make sure your pet feels comfortable during your travels, so here are some tips - no matter how you’re traveling!
When you’re traveling by car
Find the right carrier or harness
With that being said, having a carrier or harness for your pet is the most important thing when traveling by car. If you go with a carrier option, it should be big enough for your pet to be able to sit, stand and move around slightly in. It should also be secured to the seat in some way to ensure that if the vehicle stops suddenly, it won’t be thrown forwards.
If you’re going on a fairly long journey with your pet and you’re planning on putting them in a crate, make sure it’s comfortable for them. You could include their favorite blanket, a pillow from home, and a selection of toys for them to chew on to keep them entertained.
Plan ahead of time
When traveling by car, it’s also a great idea to plan your route ahead of time, so that you know where you’ll be stopping. This will give your pet an opportunity to stretch their legs, go to the toilet and have a bit of food and water. You should aim to stop at least every two hours - this is good for you, as well as for your pet!
Help your pet’s car sickness
If your pet has been known to get carsick, it’s important that you do everything you can to minimize their discomfort. Don’t feed them for two to three hours before the journey, as they’re less likely to vomit with an empty stomach.
You could also try putting some ginger powder in their food before the trip, as it’s known to calm unsettled stomachs (try 250mg for dogs under 7kg and 500mg for dogs over 7kg). If your dog really struggles with car sickness, you may need to speak to your vet a couple of weeks in advance to discuss medication options.
Have plenty of food, water, and toys
Make sure you have enough supplies of water, food, treats, and toys to keep your pet happy for the duration of your journey. And if your puppy is teething, it’s extra important that you bring along his favorite puppy chew toys. You don’t want them going hungry or to be in pain when you’re in a foreign place far away from your vet, and rewarding them with treats is a great way to show them the car is a fun, happy place to be!
Traveling by plane
If your pet is heading overseas with you, there are a number of things you’ll need to do beforehand to make sure they’re ready, (asides from finding an airline approved carrier).
Have a vet check up (and get the certificate)
Your pet should have a veterinary check-up a couple of weeks out from your trip, to ensure they’re in tip-top condition to fly. Some airlines require that you present a ‘pet vet travel certificate’ when checking that your pet in, so you’ll need to check with the airline you’ve booked with to see what their policy is. Often, the vet check will need to have been conducted within a certain time period from the date of your flight (10 days, for example).
While you’re at the vet, it’s also a great time to check that your pet’s identification (including their collar, tag, and microchip) is correctly updated. It’s super important to make sure that your pet is healthy to fly before you leave. You wouldn’t want them suffering from some kind of medical affliction while they’re in the cargo hold of the plane!
Make sure they’re accustomed to their crate
Once you’ve checked the rules of the airline in regards to what kind of crate your pet has to be into travel, it’s time to get them used to the one you’ve purchased.
Start by placing the crate in a common area of the house that your pet spends a lot of time in, such as the lounge room. Let them have a sniff and get used to its presence for a few days.
Then, put some of their favorite things in there - may be a blanket, pillow or toy. Reward them if they enter the crate or go near it. If they start to sit or lie down in the crate, reward them further. Have a go at closing the door of the crate and see how they react. It’s all about slow, steady steps and reinforcing positive behavior, so your pet starts to see the crate as a place where good things happen (and an opportunity to earn treats).
Making travel a comfortable experience for your pet
There’s nothing better or more freeing than the feeling of being on the road with your pet. Thankfully, with a bit of preparation and being tuned in to how your pet is feeling, you can make sure that the journey is just as enjoyable for them as it is for you.