A Guide to Stress-Free Travelling with Pets

Words: Crush

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration and travel. For many families, this means loading the car and bringing their paw pals along for the ride. Travelling with pets can be a rewarding experience, but it does require careful planning to ensure smooth sailing for both you and your furry friend. Here are some pet travel tips for a stress-free road trip.

Plan Ahead

The key to successful pet travel during the holidays is meticulous planning. Start by researching pet-friendly accommodations. Make reservations well in advance, as many hotels have limited pet-friendly rooms, especially during the busy holiday season. Check for pet-friendly restaurants and parks at your destination to keep your pet busy.


Visit the Vet

Before hitting the road or taking to the skies, schedule a visit to the veterinarian for a health checkup. Ensure that your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and ask for a copy of their medical records. If you’re crossing provincial or country borders, be aware of any specific health requirements or quarantine regulations.


Update Contact Information

Before setting out, double-check that the contact information on your pet’s ID tag is current. If you’re staying at a unique holiday location, consider adding a temporary tag with the updated details. This ensures that you can be reached if your pet wanders off.

Consider a microchip for added security, as it increases the chances of reuniting with your pet in case they get lost during the trip – hopefully not. Include your contact information, destination address, and an emergency contact number on the tag.


Pack Wisely

Prepare a dedicated travel bag for your pet that includes all the essentials. Bring enough food for the entire trip, along with bowls, a leash, toys, and any medication your pet may need. Familiar items, such as a favourite blanket or toy, can provide comfort during the journey. Don’t forget waste disposal bags for bathroom breaks – don’t leave a mess behind.


Secure Transportation

Whether you’re travelling by car or plane, your pet’s safety is of the utmost importance. For car travel, use a secure pet carrier or harness to prevent your furry friend from roaming around the vehicle. Ensure that the carrier is well-ventilated and large enough for your pet to stand, turn, and lie down comfortably. If flying, check with the airline for specific pet travel guidelines.


Train for Travel

If your pet is not accustomed to travel, consider taking short trips leading up to the holiday journey. This helps acclimate them to the new experience and reduces anxiety. Reward positive behaviour with treats or praise to create positive associations with travel.

Ask your vet about CBD treats if your pet struggles with anxiety. This is important for dogs that bark during road trips, which could be a nightmare when driving for hours. Nausea is another concern for pets that experience car sickness; consult your vet in advance.


Introduce Your Pet to the Carrier

If your pet will be travelling in a carrier, give them time to get used to it before the trip. Place treats, toys or bedding inside to make it a comfortable space. This familiarity can help reduce stress during the long journey ahead.


Exercise Before the Trip

Before embarking on a long journey, ensure your pet gets plenty of exercise. A tired pet is more likely to rest during the trip, making the experience more enjoyable for both of you. A brisk walk or playtime before departure can help burn off excess energy.


Take Breaks

Plan regular breaks to allow your pet to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and get some fresh air. Pack a travel-friendly water bowl and offer water at each stop to keep your pet hydrated; these portable water dispensers are great if you don’t have a water bowl nearby. Short breaks can also help reduce stress and anxiety associated with long journeys.


Create a Pet Travel Kit

In addition to packing essentials, create a travel kit specifically for your pet. Include grooming supplies, first aid items, and any medication they may need. Having a well-stocked kit ensures you’re prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise.


Check the Weather

Keep an eye on the weather forecast for your travel dates. Extremely hot temperatures can be dangerous for pets, especially if left in a car for extended periods. Plan your travel times to avoid the hottest part of the day, and be aware of adverse weather conditions.


Respect Your Pet’s Routine

Try to maintain your pet’s regular feeding, play, and rest schedule as much as possible. A consistent routine can help alleviate stress in unfamiliar environments.


Create a Comfortable Space

Whether in a hotel room or a relative’s house, set up a comfortable space for your pet to relax. Bring their bed or a familiar blanket to provide a sense of security. If staying in a new environment, introduce your pet to the space gradually to help them acclimate.


Be Patient and Flexible

Travelling can be unpredictable, and adjustments may be necessary. Be patient with your pet and yourself, especially if there are delays or changes to your plans. Maintain a calm demeanour to reassure your pet in unfamiliar situations.

Planning ahead and being mindful of your pet’s needs is the best way you can ensure a joyful and stress-free journey. Happy and safe travels!

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