What’s a vacation without your best friend by your side? And no, that doesn’t necessarily mean your partner or your human best friends. Traveling with your dog or cat is one of the best ways to make unforgettable memories. Whether you’re vacationing to a new city, making a cross-country move with your furry friend, or taking your dog or cat to a hiking spot to explore the great outdoors, you’re going to want to make sure you’re equipped with all the pet travel essentials.
Are you traveling via plane or car? Does your pet become fearful in certain situations, such as when exposed to a vehicle, an enclosed space, loud noises, or crowds of people? These are important questions to ask before you take off on your journey. Beyond logistical considerations, it’s essential to consider your pet’s comfort and enjoyment. After all, this is a trip that involves both of you, and you both deserve to have a great time. Read these five tips for traveling with your pet and you will be on your way to all kinds of new adventures!
1. Invest in a Pet Carrier
If you plan to take your dog or cat on a flight with you, first check airline regulations to ensure that your airline allows pets in the passenger compartment. Most pet owners feel more secure when they can stow their pet in a carrier under the seat in front of them, but if you have a larger animal or a more exotic furry friend, this may not be possible.
Once you have determined that your pet can come along for the duration of your flight, find a pet carrier that is the appropriate size for your dog or cat. Like other carry-on bags, the size of your pet carrier is typically limited to 22 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches high. A comfortable strap on your pet carrier will make the boarding process easier, and breathable mesh fabric will maximize airflow for your pet and allow him or her to see you at all times. It’s possible for your pet carrier to be functional and fashionable, too.
2. Prepare for Frightening Situations
You know your pet best, and it’s important to prepare for unexpected scenarios that might trigger fear or aggression. If your dog is generally fearful or reactive, you may want to reconsider extensive travel with your pet. If you’re trying to desensitize a reactive dog or the travel is unavoidable, talk to your pet’s vet before you embark. Ask your vet if they have any advice for behavioral issues that might arise on your trip. If your dog or cat is especially fearful, you may even be able to fill a prescription for calming medications. If you don’t want to consult your vet, you can use other methods to calm your pet, such as pet-friendly CBD oil, calming bones and treats, or ear covers to help pets who are sensitive to noise.
3. How to Handle Potty Breaks
Unfortunately, if your dog or cat needs to relieve themselves on your flight, they will be forced to go in their carrier. This can be very distressing for your animal—not to mention your seatmates. In order to avoid an in-flight accident, do not feed your dog or cat before you board. It may also help to exercise your pet so that they’re tired and more likely to sleep through the flight. Most airports have pet relief areas, so be sure to make use of them before you board.
Most dogs, for instance, poop only about twice a day, typically after meals. If you have a short afternoon flight and you feed your dog in the morning, as long as he or she poops once, you shouldn’t have to worry about a mid-flight accident. How much a dog or cat pees, however, depends on their size and how much water they drink. You may want to line your pet’s carrier with potty pads just in case.
4. Create a Packing Checklist
Just as you might create a checklist when packing clothes and other essentials for yourself, create one for your dog or cat, too. Ensure that you bring your dog’s medications, vaccination records, and a collar and leash with an updated ID tag in case officials need to check your pet’s records when you cross borders. This is especially important for international travel. Bring food and treats as well as a portable water bottle. Finally, bring potty pads for emergencies as well as blankets, chew toys, and other items that might make your pet comfortable when you’re on the go. Think about the items that your pet uses on a daily basis and purchase travel-friendly options ahead of your trip.
5. Tailor Your Daily Activities and Hotel Choices
To reiterate, this is a trip for both you and your pet. That means that you will want to choose activities that your dog or cat will also enjoy. If you spend your trip visiting stores and restaurants that are not pet-friendly while leaving your dog cooped up in a hotel, he or she probably won’t have a relaxing stay. Instead, try hiking, swimming, camping, or other outdoor activities that will help your dog feel like part of the family. Cats may also enjoy trips to outdoor areas and parks. Of course, make sure that any hotel or Airbnb you choose is also pet-friendly. You might even want to seek out a hotel that has a pet daycare or nearby dog park where your furry friend can let off some steam.
If you’re traveling with your furry friend for the first time, rest assured that it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Before you know it, your dog or cat will be a seasoned traveler who accompanies you on all of your adventures.