If you are a pet owner, there will, at some point, be a need to take your fur-friend in the car on an extended trip. Boarding can be expensive; your four-legged member of the family is just that – a family member and you want them to be comfortable and anxiety free, so traveling together is your better option. But traveling can be highly-stressful, both for you and your animal companions.
Traveling with a pet involves so much more than just loading the animal in the back seat and driving off – especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time.
If the only trips your animal has been exposed to is the annual jaunt to the vet, don’t be lulled into thinking that your pet is a natural frequent traveller. Get your pet prepared for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening the time spent in the car.
If feasible, keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. If you crate-trained your pooch from a puppy, then they will already be familiar – and accepting of this haven-like enclosure.
Let’s be 100% clear on this next point. Never – ever – leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can occur. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
While we have all smiled at the images of a dog with its head out a window, tongue lolling out of his mouth, please don't allow your pet to do this. Dirt could get into his eye and cause damage or, worse case scenario, he could be injured by flying objects. Please keep him in the back seat in his crate or with a harness attached to a seat buckle.
Just because you have the bladder of a camel, do not assume your pet is the same. Stop at regular intervals. Allow the animal to stretch their legs and, if necessary, do their business. Most important of all, ensure that you provide lots of water at every rest period. Hydration is crucial for the animal’s general well-being.
Ensure your fur kid wears a non-choke type collar with appropriate identification. Better yet, long beforehand, consider investing in microchip ID.
By all means, bring a favourite toy and bedding. Familiar items help calm the animal.
Remember, in many ways, travelling with a family pet is similar to travelling with an infant – chances are, it will, if you are prepared, be considerably less traumatic for everyone!