The holidays are always a grand time to get together and celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the next with family and friends. When our families include our furry, four-legged members, taking pets along to visit can prove challenging.
Listed below are 10 easy tips that can make your car trip stress-free for you, your family AND your pets.
1. Feed your pet a light meal 3 to 4 hours prior to travel.
To avoid carsickness, you won’t want to feed in a moving vehicle, and your animal will feel more secure if she has a full tummy as she rides along.
2. Don’t allow your dogs to roam in your car for your safety and theirs.
Harness/seatbelts are a functional answer, but have not proven reliable in case of an accident. The safest alternative to a harness is to keep your dog in a crate that is tied down by the seatbelt.
3. Cats need to ride in a carrier restrained by seatbelt around the front of the crate so that it doesn’t bounce around.
Find a well-ventilated crate that is large enough for your cat’s bed, a couple of toys, a water bowl and a small litter box. (I’ve always used those aluminum cake tins found at the supermarket that can be easily thrown away.) Most pet stores and online pet supply sites offer a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers. Whatever you choose, make sure the carrier is large enough for your pet to stand up, sit, lie down and turn around.
4. Tape a card with your name, address, and cell phone number on the outside of the carrier in case of emergency.
A photo of your pet with her name and your veterinarian’s name and phone number also need to be posted somewhere on the crate in case of loss. Remember: Microchip your pets and place all identification tags (your pets’ names, your name, and your cell number) on their collars before you get in the car.
5. Allow for plenty of rest stops.
Every 3 to 4 hours, pull over and give your dog an on-leash potty break and leg stretch. This might also be a good time to offer water to stave off dehydration. Please remember, unless your cats are leash-trained, leave them in the car.
6. Carry your own pre-packaged food in small plastic bags for each meal.
If you have more than one pet, label each one’s food separately, and always bring spares in case you get stuck. Do the same with treats/biscuits.
7. Bring your own water.
Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs. According to the ASPCA, drinking water from an area she’s not used to could result in tummy upset for your pet.
8. Don’t leave your pet alone in the car.
We’ve all heard of the dangers of leaving a pet in the car on very hot and very cold days. With pet theft on the rise, you don’t want to take any chances that your beloved companion can fall into the wrong hands.
9. Pack your ‘on-the-road’ traveling kit.
In addition to travel papers, food, bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags for cleanup, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity. Bring along some old towels to use for clean-up and bedding. Your own cleaning supplies are a necessity, as is kitty litter if you’re traveling with your cat.
10. Bring your rabies vaccination record with you if you are crossing state lines.
Although most states don’t require these records, some do, and if your pet should become lost, you’ll need this paperwork to get her out of Animal Control or a rescue when she is found.
Early preparation for car trips with your pets can provide ALL members of your family a fun, stress-free holiday.