Each year millions of Americans hit the road in search of summer relaxation, adventure or just some peaceful time with relatives. Many choose to bring their pet with them. In the age where more pets accompany their human companions on vacations, more and more hotels and lodges are becoming pet friendly.
Those who do frequently travel with their pet state their biggest fear is their pet will get sick, hurt or lost during the trip. When traveling hundreds of miles from home, finding a veterinarian in a panic can be daunting. But, with some careful planning and preparation, fears can be minimized thus make traveling with pets an enjoyable experience.
Consider all options before traveling with Fido or Fluffy. Many times, pets will be happier if allowed to travel with their owner, however balance a pet's overall health and safety. Choose the safest mode of travel for the pet. Think about the pet's health, age, whether it likes to travel, lodging and the time of year. Pets may travel well for short trips to the park or weekend camping trips, but cannot handle cross country ventures. An older pet with arthritis may be very uncomfortable during winter rides. It may be better to consider a kennel, pet sitting service or family member to care for the pet.
When deciding that bringing a pet is the best option, owners need to pack for their pet as well as themselves. The essential items to pack for a pet include medications and medical records, food and bowls, a pet first aid kit, bedding, leash, collar and tags, grooming supplies, current pet photo in case it gets lost, a favorite toy or two, a sturdy and well ventilated carrier and litter and litter box for cats. It might help to pack all pet items in a specific bag just for them so several bags do not have to be looked in for pet supplies.
Before traveling too far, have the pet examined by a veterinarian. Make sure vaccinations are up to date and get any medications the pet might need during the trip. If giving pets medications to reduce anxiety or travel sickness symptoms, test the pet several days in advance to see if the pet is allergic or has any adverse reaction to it.
When hitting the road, build time in travel plans for frequent stops. Allow pets to stretch and take a drink of water. Before putting the pet in the car and going, take some safety steps to keep them safe during the drive. All cats should be in a crate or carrier. Dogs can be in a crate or carrier or restrained in a special harness attaching to the seat belt. If using a pet barrier in the back seat, make sure it is sturdy and firmly attached so it does not collapse on the pet. Never allow pets to ride in the front passenger seat, especially one equipped with airbags. Finally, never leave a pet alone in a parked car. That will leave the pet vulnerable to heat distress and theft.
Pets are definitely an important part of the family. In order to include them during a trip or family vacation and make the experience enjoyable for all, be sure to take the time to plan and prepare for their travels. Knowing what to pack, what to expect and what to do each step of the way minimizes their change of injury and ensures they have a safe and stress-free trip. For additional information and a list of Red Cross Pet First Aid visit www.redcross.org.