Last year’s annual trek to the family cottage was a less than relaxing trip thanks to the dog running around the vehicle barking at every other car on the road. And the cat was so terrified because it thought it was heading to the vet, that it hid under the seat and didn’t come out for days – and that was after you spent hours trying to get it to come out from under the bed in order to get into the car.
Why is it when we bring our pets along on vacation, things always get off to a bumpy start? Perhaps it’s because we spend so much time making sure we have enough food and the kids have the right toys and sunscreen, that we forget our pets also have special travel requirements.
Before going anywhere, check that pets are allowed, whether it is a friend’s house, cottage rental or hotel. Once you know pets are accepted, take them to the veterinary for a check-up. Travelling is stressful for pets, and if they are in ill health their condition can take a quick turn for the worst.
Also ensure that your pets are wearing collars with proper identification tags and are leashed whenever they are put in, or taken out of the vehicle.
If travelling to another country, make sure you have the proper paperwork, and required vaccinations in order for the pet to enter that country.
Take enough food and water for the ride, but also enough food for the entire trip.
If your pet is prone to motion/car sickness, acclimatise them to the moving vehicle by taking them out on short trips and gradually lengthening their travel time.
If that does not help relieve their stress, there are many different calming remedies available through your veterinarian and over the counter. Consult your veterinarian too determine what will work best for your pet.
Safe Car Travel
When it comes to pet travel, driving is the No. 1 mode of transportation, according to the American Automobile Association.
Your dog, while in the vehicle, should be secured by either a canine-specific seatbelt, a barrier or in a crate. Keep in mind, the crate has to be large enough for the dog to move around in, and also be secured via a seatbelt.
Unsecured pets are not only a danger to the driver (try explaining the reason you got into the car accident was because your dog jumped into your lap) but also to themselves. When travelling only 30 mph, an unrestrained 50 lb dog would be thrown with a force equivalent to nine 12-stone men, according to femalefirst.co.uk.
If you happen to get into an accident, an unrestrained dog could also get out of the vehicle, run into traffic and be killed or even cause another accident. A dog could also become frightened and/or aggressive and cause difficulties for rescue workers to get at the people in the vehicle.
It is also preferred that all pets be restrained in the backseat as front seat airbags, if deployed, can cause serious injury to any pet.
No matter how much your dog loves to hang its head out the window while driving through town, never let your dog do it on the highway. Debris can hit the dog in the face, causing serious damage. And if something really gets your dog curious, it could jump out the window onto the highway.
When making stops, no matter how quick you plan to be, never leave your pet in the vehicle. This is most important when travelling in the summer. A car can quickly overheat, even if parked in the shade with the windows slightly opened. “Even leaving the windows open may not be enough. They would have to be open so far that the dog would be able to jump out anyway,” according to petplanet.co.uk.
Another summer safety tip: adjust the air conditioning to prevent your animal from overheating. If necessary, use sunshades on the windows to help keep the animals out of direct sunlight.
Like dogs, cats should be restrained when in the vehicle. Carriers are best, as cats are more likely to squirm out of any pet seat belt device. And like dogs, keep cats out of direct the sunlight, ensure it is healthy and its vaccinations are up-to-date.
Do not put food, water or litter in the carrier with the cat. The cat won’t eat or drink while on the trip as it will be too stressed, and the litter will just take up unnecessary space and cause a mess in the carrier.