Traveling with Pets

Some pets are happy, eager travelers; others are totally traumatized. Dogs or cats that are ill, very young, old with medical condition, very nervous or aggressive, are not good candidates for travel. Also, pets that are prone to motion sickness should not be subjected to the rigors of travel. In general, dogs adjust better than cats. If you choose to take along your pet (or if you have to because you are moving to a distant place), there are a number of things you need to know so that your furry loved one will arrive safe and sound.

Before Leaving Home:

  1. Your animal’s vaccinations must be up to date you should take along a current health certificate. Be sure your pet is wearing and identification tag, and take along a color photo and a description of your pet (height, weight, distinguishing features), in case the pet gets lost en route.
  2. Pack a bag for the animal: feeding and water bowls, grooming tools, leash and collar/harness, pet toys, cleanup items (pooper scooper or litter and litter pan, paper towels), food and water, any prescribed medications.
  3. Most important: test your anima for motion sickness. Begin by taking your dog or cat for a short ride in the car and every day increase the length of the trip. Put the animal in a cat or dog carrier and be sure it is large enough for the pet to be comfortable.

Traveling By Car:

  1. Pet carriers or kennels are a must, even for dogs that are used to short, frequent car rides. Having your pet in a carrier that is sturdy, well-ventilated and comfortable (soft mat or cushion inside) will best ensure the safety of the animal as well as the safety of the other passengers. The carrier should be large enough for the animal to stand, turn around, and lie down in. It should be placed in the sunny side of your vehicle.
  2. Do not feed your dog or cat for at least three hours before setting off in a car. In general animals should be fed less than usual when traveling. On longer trips, snacks and water or small amounts of food are fine. Remember that cats need to use a litterbox about every three to four hours. If possible, the main meal should be given at the end of the day when you are finished driving or have arrived at your destination. Frequent stops are recommended; the dog can stretch and exercise (be sure the leash is on before the dog gets out of the car) and the cat can just get a break from the motion of the car.
  3. Leaving your pet in a closed, parked car can be dangerous, especially in hot weather when car temperatures can rise quickly and cause heat stroke. If you have to leave the animal alone, park in a shaded area, roll down the windows a few inches, and return quickly. Cold weather can be equally threatening, causing hypothermia if your pet is left alone for too long.