Traveling with your pet usually involves more than putting the animal in a car and driving off, especially if you will be driving long distances or be away for a long time. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) offers these tips to help you prepare for a car trip with your pet and make it go a little smoother!
First, if your pet is not accustomed to the car, take it for a few short rides before the trip. This can help keep your pet from becoming nervous or agitated. Buckling up is an important safety precaution for your pet! Many states now require that pets be restrained while in a moving vehicle. They help defend pets in case of a collision and they keep pets from running loose inside the vehicle.
Next, cats and smaller dogs are often most comfortable in pet carriers, which can be purchased in various sizes at most pet stores. Carriers give many animals a sense of security and familiar surroundings. There are also pet restraints available that can be used without carriers, including harnesses, seat belt attachments, pet car seats, vehicle barriers, and truck restraint systems.No matter what kind of restraint you use, be sure that it does not permit your pet’s head to extend outside the car window.
While packing for your trip, remember to throw in a few of your pet’s favorite toys, food and water bowls, a leash, and food. You should also carry a first aid kit. If your pet is on medication, be sure to have plenty for the trip. Dr. Walt Ingwersen, an AAHA veterinarian in Whitby, Ontario, points out that veterinarians cannot write a prescription without a prior doctor/patient relationship. Consider having your pet examined before you leave to check for any developing problems. Also, be sure to travel with a copy of your pet’s medical records.
To avoid losing your pet during a trip, make sure your pet is wearing an I.D. tag. To be doubly protected, consider having your pet tattooed or having a microchip implanted. “The more methods of identification, the better chance that the owner will be found,” says Dr. Ingwersen. He also suggests owners register the name and phone number of a relative who can identify the pet in case the owner can’t be reached while traveling.
It’s important to carry health and rabies vaccine certificates, particularly if you will be crossing the border into Canada, the US, or Mexico. All three countries allow dogs and cats to enter if they meet stringent entry requirements. Most importantly, try to plan ahead for unusual or emergency situations.