Summer is almost here, and many pet parents will take their dogs and cats on vacation with them. But, traveling with a pet isn’t an easy-peasy thing.
To make sure they’re safe and happy – and cool since this summer’s supposed to be hotter than average – it requires some planning to make sure Fluffy and Scruffy stay safe and happy.
To make life easy for pet-owning travelers, ConsumerAffairs reached out to some experts to help us compile a checklist of things – unique things that pet owners may not have thought of, but should consider before hitting the road.
Don't forget the basics. Ashley Montgomery, marketing & communications specialist at Earth Rated, a brand creating thoughtfully-designed dog products, reminds pet owners that oftentimes, the bare essentials wind up being left at home.
"What pet owners often immediately think to bring for their summer vacation is their dog’s favorite toy, their bed, and their leash -- but making sure items like dog poop bags and grooming wipes are packed, rather than trying to find and purchase them upon arrival -- can make the world of difference in making your summer getaway stress free."
And don't forget proper collar with identification tags, she added.
A little snack before you take off can do wonders. Janice Costa, owner/founder of Canine Camp Getaway, says that if you feed your dog a light meal half an hour before you head out, you’ll probably avoid car sickness.
“Heavy meals and travel don’t mix well,” she told ConsumerAffairs. “Of course, if your dog suffers from serious motion sickness, your vet can provide medication to make the ride more comfortable. A canine version of Ginger Snaps can also help prevent feelings of motion sickness.”
Bring the binkie! “Consider traveling with a blanket a pet may be familiar with, that they may lie on at home,” Alise Saunders, the owner of Tales From An Untamed Soul suggests. “Having their calm scent on a familiar item can help them stay calm in a new location or while traveling.”
Carry painter's tape. Saunders offered this new idea: bring along some of that blue painter’s tape just in case you identify any pet hazards upon arrival at your destination. “Painter's tape can remedy pet hazards without leaving permanent marks and damaging walls or doors,” she said.
Get a window shade. One idea that Leena Chitnis, the founder & CEO at Timberdog, offers is bringing along a car window shade. She says most dogs don't like the sun and find window shades a blessing.
“If your dog is belted, he won’t be able to change seats to get out of the sun, and your dog can overheat. We recommend keeping a cool temperature in your car, as well as covering the back windows with window shades,” she said.
Introduce the new environment slowly. Saunders theorizes that if a pet sees the total landscape of a new location all at once, it might become over-stimulated. “When we arrive somewhere, we seclude our cats to the primary bedroom, and let them see the rest of the house once they've acclimated to the bedroom,” she suggested.
Safety first. If you're traveling by car, make sure to bring a crate or a dog seatbelt to keep them secure, Earth Rated researchers also suggested.
Find pet-friendly spots. Not every place is as pet-friendly as pet owners would like, so Justin Albertynas, the CEO at RatePunk thinks it’s a good idea to research and plan your route to include pet-friendly accommodations, restaurants, and attractions.
“You don’t want to skip the research and go to a place where pets aren’t welcome – that could ruin the whole day,” he said.
One site that ConsumerAffairs found that has a lot of that information all in one place is BringFido.
Flying with your pet?
If you’re taking your pet on a plane ride, there are special considerations. Philip Ballard at HotelPlanner says the most important one is to make sure you have your ‘Certificate of Veterinary Inspection’ within 10 days of travel, which most airlines mandate. The other is to make a quick call to your vet to see if they have any suggestions since they probably know your dog pretty well.
A quick sidebar about pet health: Since we’re living in a digital world, it also might be worth checking out an app such as PawprintID that stores the pet records, so if someone has an emergency while traveling with a pet, the emergency vet will have all the records.
The other flying-with-Fido thoughts came from Walter M. Woolf, VMD, founder and CEO of Air Animal Pet Movers. Woolf suggests that pet owners freeze water in the flight kennel bowls and add them to the kennel at air cargo and, add a T-shirt used by the pet's favorite person or a small comfort blanket to the carrier.