Quick… Name a family member that brings you tremendous joy and peace… Did your four-legged friend come to mind? Without question, our pets are an extension of our family. So, when we travel, we definitely want to ensure their comfort and safety.
Flying can be a stressful time for even the calmest pup or kitten. There’s a slew of new sights and sounds and they have no idea what’s going on around them. Whether you’re traveling by car or plane, we have some tips that’ll help you travel safe and maybe even ensure a little bit of comfort.
1. Do a Trial Run
If you’re traveling by car, do a trial run. See how your dog or cat does on an hourlong ride to one of your favorite destinations.
Be sure to pause for a break after the hour to allow your dog to stretch his or her legs and see that being in a car isn’t a death sentence. Rather, it can be a nice, relaxing time, spent in comfortable quarters.
2. Check Your Airlines
If you’re about to travel by plane, then there’s a lot of research to conduct. Each airline has its own set of fees and regulations regarding pet travel. (Some don’t allow pets at all.) There are also various weight limits that indicate whether or not you can carry on your pet or check them in with your baggage.
Checking our pets in with our baggage kind of hurts our hearts. But, sometimes it’s necessary. Did you know airlines are required to turn in annual incident reports regarding pets who were lost or killed in the cargo area? So, if you find a flight you like, search for that airline’s incident report before committing to the flight.
3. Fly Direct
You really don’t want to have to make a transfer with your pet. This leaves them open to a slew of risks. They could be left out on the tarmac in cold weather; roughly handled by employees; lost between transfers or worse.
Let’s stop there and say you almost never want to have to make a connection with your dog or cat stowed below. If you can’t find a direct flight, see if you can spend a night in the layover city. This gives you time to reunite with your puppy or kitten and then travel on to the final destination.
4. Cozy Up Their Crate
You’ll know if you need a pet crate for a road trip. Perhaps some pillows and a blanket will suffice. But, if you’re flying, then there’s no way around a pet carrier and there are a few pointers to keep in mind when selecting a crate.
First, if this is the first time your four-legged friend is going to spend time in a pet carrier, then, start getting them used to it weeks in advance. Conduct some basic training (using a reward system) so they’ll be able to hop right into their cozy space in lieu of you forcing them into it.
Then, the crate itself will take a little bit of decision-making. It needs to provide enough room for your baby to stand up and make a full circle. Once you’ve determined the right size, you also want to see that the crate is USDA approved, something along the lines of the Petmate Sky Kennel.
5. Carry Food and Water
This seems like an obvious one, but we mention it because there are a few ways to ensure your beloved pal gets fed and watered during a flight. As for food, we recommend fastening a small pouch of dry food to the exterior of the crate. This will allow airline employees to feed your pet, should they chose, if you’re forced into a situation with a layover.
You can do the same thing with water. Secure a half-full container of water to the exterior of the rate. You don’t want to fill the bottle because it’ll expand in the high altitude and possibly explode. Hopefully, an airline attendant will see to your pet’s basic water needs, given all the panting and exasperation they may be experiencing.
If you’re traveling by car, some of the same principles apply. Carry a few treats for them to enjoy throughout the drive. We love collapsible food and water bowls. You can stop at the side of the road for a leg stretch, pop open a set of bowls, and feed and water your pal during this bit of downtime.
6. Visit Your Veterinarian
It doesn’t hurt to have a quick little checkup before departure. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and ask for a certificate from your vet, indicating a very recent date.
Also, if you think you’ll have a nervous flyer, your vet can recommend the best course of action to get them ramped up for a successful trip.
In truth, we’re not huge fans of tranquilizing your pet before a flight. It can interfere with their breathing at high altitudes. Still, speak to your trusted provider for their recommendations.
7. Consider a First Aid Kit
Amidst your travel bowls, blankets, treats, and other trinkets, it can be reassuring to have a small first aid kit on hand, too. This can be as basic as gauze, bandages, and a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide.
8. Locate the Nearest Vet
No matter where you travel, you always want to know where the nearest vet’s office is. Conduct an online search before you leave, pinpointing the finest provider in the area.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has some helpful tips on how to do just that. Some of their considerations include a close look at the services offered, how they collect fees and payments, and whether or not they have emergency care.
9. Err On the Side of Caution
This mostly pertains to car travel, as airline travel is highly regulated. When you’re stopping for bathroom breaks, always secure your pet. Even if your dog is your faithful sidekick who never leaves your side when you’re at home, keep him or her tied to a leash in these new surroundings.
The sounds of cars, trucks, and motorcycles can be overwhelming at truck stops and other rest areas. This can make their behavior unpredictable and you never want them to bolt in a moment of panic.
10. Consider a Pets-Only Airline
Some animal lover out there took note of the major catastrophes pet-owners can face when flying and debuted America’s first pet-only airline. Pet Airways is the first airline that allows pets to lounge comfortably in the terminal and enjoy a comfortable flight above board, no matter their size.
Upon departure, they’ll be secured into the cabin where an attendant will check on them every 15 minutes and provide regular bathroom breaks. Although you can’t travel with your lovable pup, you can keep an eye on them via an online platform. Pretty fantastic, right?
You Can Travel Safe
Without a doubt, you can travel safe with your fur baby. You can also ensure a certain level of comfort, no matter how jittery they may be about the prospect of flying.
And that’s what we’re all about, here at Puppy Smarts. We love updating our blog with new ways to care for your dog, train them, treat them with new toys, and more. Whether you’re in full-blown flight preparation or just considering a future flight, we hope these tips and tricks will put your mind at ease!