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Know Before you Go: Tips for a Safe and Happy Road Trip with your Pet

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Many pets love a road trip almost as much as their parents. But before you load up Rover and head off into the distance, make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for a long car trip with your pet. We’ve compiled some comprehensive, road-tested tips on what to do before you go, as well as how to manage along the way.

 

Prepping for your Trip

 

  • Get a Healthy Start:  There’s no guarantee your pet won’t get sick during travel. But you can make sure he’s as healthy as possible before you head out. This means a quick trip to the vet for a thorough checkup. Your vet can also ensure that your pet is well enough for travel, up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations, and has a full supply of any medications he made need.

  • If you’re planning to travel across state lines, you’ll need to ask your veterinarian to provide you with a health certificate for your pet. A number of states do require them; even if the state you’re headed to doesn’t, you may have to pass through states that do. If you plan to travel from the U.S. to Canada with your pet, you’ll need to have a veterinarian certificate on hand that clearly identifies your pet and certifies that he has been vaccinated against rabies at some point within the previous 36 months. Be sure to contact the government of any Canadian province you plan to visit – each province has its own pet requirements and regulations.

  • Plan for Securing your Pet:  Have a plan in place for keeping your pet safely, securely and comfortably restrained in your vehicle during the trip.  This is a critical part of pet travel that many pet parents fail to take seriously enough. Tragically, hundreds of pets are injured or even killed each year because their caretakers allowed them to roam free in a vehicle.  There’s also the very real possibility that a roaming pet could distract a driver, causing an accident that leads to property damage, injury, or even death for the vehicle’s occupants. There are a number of great pet restraint products available on the market, including vehicle pet barriers, pet seat belts, pet car seats, and pet travel crates.  Whichever method you choose, it’s important that you help your pet adapt to it – at his pace – in the weeks or months before traveling. Doing so will ensure that he’s as comfortable as he is safe.

  • Temporary ID Tag:  This is an important, though often overlooked pet travel tip. Unfortunately, pets do occasionally run off during travel. But if you’re well-prepared, that story doesn’t have to have a sad ending.  Bringing a temporary identification tag and a current photo of your pet on your trip can help facilitate his safe return.  Secure the temporary ID tag to your pet’s collar alongside his permanent tag. Make sure to include the address and phone number of your accommodations, as well as your cell phone number and an email address so that you can be easily reached in more than one way.  It is also recommended to microchip your pet.  A current photo of your pet will make it much easier for others to clearly identify him so they can help you find him.

  • Packing Essentials:  Always pack an ample supply of your pet’s food.  Don’t depend on stopping along the way or at your final destination to grab some food at a local supermarket or pet store. Your pet’s specific brand of food may not be available at every locale, and introducing your pet to a new brand of food during travel can be problematic. Aside from food, be sure to provide your pet with plenty of water to drink throughout the trip.

    Other essentials on your packing list should include collapsible travel food and water bowls; comfortable bedding; litter and a litter box; a leash; a collar with appropriate tags; a few favorite toys; some basic grooming supplies; a first-aid kit for pets, and any medications your pet might need.

  • Book Your Pet Friendly Accommodations:  If you’re planning a long road trip that requires one or more en-route overnight hotel stays, you’ll need to secure pet friendly accommodations before you travel. Map out your trip, find the most convenient locations to spend the night, and arrange for lodging ahead of time. To make the process much easier, TripsWithPets.com’s Search By Route option allows you to input your starting and final destinations, and find pet friendly accommodations along your preferred route.

  • Medical Records:  Medical emergencies can happen, and it’s best to be prepared. Be sure to bring your pet’s medical records, along with your vet’s contact information, in case he or she is needed for consultation.

Hitting the Road

 

  • Keep All Heads Inside the Window:  For many pets, riding with their heads out the window is the best part of any road trip. While it may be enjoyable, it’s an unsafe thing to do, as your pet can easily be injured by passing objects or flying debris.  Also, NEVER allow your pet to ride in the back of a pickup truck. It’s highly dangerous, and it’s even illegal in some states.

  • Stop Frequently:  Providing frequent potty and exercise breaks is essential for your pet’s comfort. Most rest stops have areas designated areas for walking pets. Be sure to restrict your pet to these areas when you suspect he needs to potty. Bring your own clean-up bags, and always pick up after your pet. Any time your pet is outside your vehicle, make sure he’s on a leash and wearing a collar that features both permanent and temporary travel ID tags.

  • Provide Adequate Hydration:  During pit stops, make sure you provide your pet with abundant fresh water to keep him cool and hydrated.  Occasionally, travel can cause stomach upset in pets. Using ice cubes for hydration can be easier on your pet’s stomach than large amounts of water.

  • Monitor Food Intake:  Try to keep feeding to a minimum as you travel – it’s easier on pet stomachs and keeps them more comfortable. Feed your pet his regular pet food, and don’t give in to the temptation of sharing your burger, pizza or nachos with your pet (this decision is fun at the time, but never ends well).

  • Don’t Leave Them Alone:  Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle. While it’s a common thing to do, it’s actually very dangerous – on warm days, the temperature in your vehicle can reach 120 degrees within minutes – even with the windows cracked open. In addition, animals left alone in vehicles are an easy target for thieves.

  • Use Restraints Wisely:  Keep your pet safely restrained in your vehicle.  Pet safety harnesses, pet travel kennels, vehicle pet barriers, and pet car seat are popular and effective ways to keep your pet safe on the road.  Not only do they prevent injury, they prevent accidents by minimizing distractions for the driver. Note that, whatever method you choose, the back seat is always the safest spot in the car for your pet.

    Safety harnesses function much like seatbelts.  While these devices are comfortable for most pets, you may want to help your pet adjust to his by having him wear it a few times outside the vehicle before your trip.  If you choose to use a travel kennel, be sure it is very stable inside the vehicle, and well ventilated so that your pet gets plenty of air. Vehicle barriers are a popular choice among pet parents, especially if they have larger pets. Those with smaller pets might consider a pet car seat, which is secured in the back seat with a seat belt features a safety harness that secures your pet. Pet car seats also help boost little guys and gals up so they can see out the window.

  • Keep Him Safe and Comfy:  Anyone who has ever been on a road trip knows that keeping comfortable in the car is a high priority. The same is true for your pet. Their seat and safety restraint should be comfortable for them – you may even want to invest in an especially cozy pet car seat for the trip. Also, bringing along favorite blankets and cuddly toys is always helpful.

 

Road trips with your pet should be exciting and fun adventures. Following these tips will ensure that your pet’s safety, comfort and security are taken care of, so that the two of you are free to have fun, wherever the road might lead you.

 

TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada.  When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities.  TripsWithPets.com also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear. For more information, please visit http://www.tripswithpets.com


Tags: Cats, Dogs, Pet advice, Pet Safety, Pet travel, Pet Vacation, Pets and road trips, Pets and trips, Safety, Tips

Pet Travel: Take Your Furry Sidekick Along, or Leave Him Behind?

Pet Travel: Take Your Furry Sidekick  Along, or Leave Him Behind?

As a pet parent, a road trip with a furry kid might seem like a dream come true. You’d love the opportunity to bond and share new experiences with him, and you’d certainly appreciate the company. But before you load your beloved pet into the car for the long haul, take a moment to reflect. A pet who’s a great companion at home, on walks, and on short trips around town won’t necessarily be an ideal travel buddy. Long trips aren’t right for every pet, and your pet’s needs should come before your desire to take him along.

Does My Pet have a Road-Worthy Temperament?

Like people, dogs have a wide range of different temperaments. Some are laid-back and easygoing, while others are nervous and high-strung. If your pet is adaptable, easy to please and likes new places and new people, he’s likely to be a great travel buddy.  However, if he’s nervous by nature, skittish about car rides, or anxious when confronted with something new, chances are, he’s not ready for a long trip. If your pet is nervous or fearful, don’t despair – with some training, he may eventually become a great pet traveler. He just may have to stay home this time around.

With appropriate training, commitment,  and patience, most temperament problems can be overcome. Your pet can become less sensitive to stimuli, and more suited for travel. That said, desensitizing training techniques aren’t a quick fix. You’ll need to dedicate the time, offer a lot of leeway and understanding, and let your pet set the pace.

Will This Trip be Fun for my Pet?

Will your pet be comfortable? Did you plan pet friendly activities he will enjoy? Your dog might love an impromptu hiking trip through the mountains or a glorious day on the beach, but he may not be so thrilled to share your mother’s tiny apartment with her cats while you head off to the golf course or sit alone in a hotel room  during your out-of-town business meetings, (in fact, many pet friendly hotels don’t allow pets to stay alone in rooms). You know your dog best, so you are the best person to judge whether this trip will be an enjoyable one for him – if not, you can adjust your plans to be more pet friendly, or you can let him stay home where he’s sure to be comfortable.

Is My Pet in Good Health?

If your pet is injured or under-the-weather, you may be tempted to take him along on your trip so you can watch over him. After all, no one will care for him like you do! However, it may be best for your pet to stay behind under the care of trusted friend or family member. You will be busy driving, after all, and you won’t really keep vigil over him. The trip may make him tired, distressed or uncomfortable – factors that will be difficult to remedy far from home. A pet in pain or discomfort may even act out, which won’t make for a pleasant trip for either of you.

If your pet is elderly, but in good health, you’ll need to make a judgment call. If he enjoys taking car trips and visiting new places, taking him along may very well be good for him. If he likes trips, but becomes uncomfortable easily, he may be better off at home. If you’re undecided, a quick trip to consult with your vet can help you figure out whether a road trip is in your pet’s best interest.

If your pet suffers from travel anxiety, routinely taking him on brief trips, or planning occasional trips that end up somewhere exciting and fun can help teach him that traveling is a rewarding experience. If your pet experiences motion sickness during car rides, all is not lost – a number of remedies exist to help alleviate his suffering, including reconditioning, traditional medications, and holistic remedies.

If your pet is up for it, hitting the road with him can be a fantastic way to break up the blahs, have some fun adventures, and spend some quality time together. However, even if your pet isn’t perfectly suited for travel right now, it doesn’t mean he never can be.

Safe travels and happy tails!

TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada.  When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities.  TripsWithPets.com also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear. For more information, please visit http://www.tripswithpets.com

Tags: Pet Safety, Pet travel, Pet Vacation

Socializing your new puppy: what you need to know

Now that you have gotten (somewhat) used to the newest addition to the family, it’s time to start thinking about socialization? The key to having a happy and nonfearful dog, is to start training during puppyhood. Here are some tips on how to get started.

At home…

Once your puppy has been home for a few days and is settled in, start introducing him to loud noises around the house. Get the vacuum cleaner out and let him sniff it. Turn it on and see how he reacts. This should go without saying but, don’t chase him with it and don’t force him to be near it. He may be afraid of it at first but after a few more times, it won’t make him so anxious. Also let him hear the garbage disposal, the hair dryer, the blender, etc. Whatever makes loud noises in your house (including the kids, although he’s likely heard them a lot by now).

When you are relaxing on the sofa, play with his feet and stick your fingers in his mouth periodically. Trim his nails so he gets used to this. There may not really be a lot to trim, but the act of having you hold his feet will help make it less stressful later. The same for getting him used to you opening his mouth in case you ever have to give him medicine. Now is a good time to get him used to you brushing his teeth as well.

 

Out in the world…

This part of socialization is definitely fun but you really have to wait until your pup is done will all of the puppy vaccines before venturing out into the world with your new BFF.  Ask your family vet and your dog-loving friends about “puppy kindergarten” classes in your area. These are also offered at some of our Best Friends facilities so be sure to ask J [JG1] In these classes, your pup will learn to interact with other dogs, new people, new environments, and lots of new smells. Puppy heaven! Having your puppy explore these things in a specific space and structured environment allows you to see how he/she does and help ensure that they don’t grow up being fearful or aggressive. Kindergarten classes will also start to lay the foundation for some behavior training as well.
Puppyhood is also the best time to start training your puppy to go for walks with a leash. Frequent walks are key since this is a skill that can take some time to master. If your pup sees things that scare him, such as a tree or a trash can, he may bark and back away. Don’t try to soothe him if he does this or he will think it is a good behavior. Instead, walk him past it gently, don’t pull or force him towards it though.

Overall, enjoy the process. Socialization is one of the most fun parts of having a puppy – its and excuse to show him off and play so, take advantage of it! And always remember we are here if you need us!!

Tags: Dog training, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Puppy, Tips
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