Will you be travelling with your pet this summer? Whether you’re travelling across the country or just visiting family on the other side of Joliet, travel can be a big deal for our pets. With the right preparation, however, it can be as fun an adventure for them as it is for us.
(1) First, take time to acclimate your pet to any environments she is likely to encounter on your trip. This includes the car, any carrier or crate, and unusual sights and sounds. If he hasn’t been in these situations before, or was previously upset by them, taking a few weeks ahead of your trip to introduce them is well worth the investment.
- Start small – simply have the unusual item nearby and give your pet lots of treats. For crates and carriers, try leaving them open in a calm part of the house, and let your pet explore. Favorite treats and toys can be put inside to up the excitement. Slowly build up to getting into the carrier or car, then taking short trips inside, with lots of treats and positive reinforcement along the way.
- The key to this working is for it to be a positive experience throughout. If your pet seems to be anxious (stiff body language, whites of the eyes showing, not wanting to take treats), back off right away and try again another time. If she doesn’t seem to be responding to the slow introduction, talk to us about supplements and/or medications that can help. This approach can take a while to be successful, but will result in a lifetime of easy travel!
(2) For pets who get carsick, anti-nausea medications can solve the problem quickly. Some pets do vomit in the car, but others will show nausea through licking their lips or drooling excessively. If you see any of these signs, using an anti-nausea medication is well worth a shot; these medications are very safe, and a single dose lasts for 24 hours! Not only will it save you from clean up duty, it’ll help your pet relax for the trip and stay excited about travel.
(3) Find out what arrangements will be at your destination, and prepare for your pet to be comfortable. If you’ll be visiting family or friends, find out about pet-friendly areas of the house and yard and make sure your pet will be able to stretch his legs safely. If there are other pets in the home, make sure they (and your pet) are relaxed around new animals. If not, see if there’s a way to create a safe space in the house for him to stay separated and avoid conflict.
(4) Have a plan in case your pet becomes more anxious than normal on the trip. Not only will your pet be in new environments and out of her normal routine, but there is a higher chance of scary noises over the summer months (think thunderstorms and fireworks). Talk to your veterinarian about whether starting a calming supplement for the duration of the trip is a good idea. It might even be worth having something stronger on hand in case of unusual stress.
(5) Pack a few essentials for the trip – copies of your pet’s vaccinations, information on any conditions he has, extra medications so you don’t run out on your trip, and the contact information for local emergency veterinarians along the route and at the destination. (You can always contact us ahead of time for a vaccine certificate and medication refills.) Be aware that if you need a health certificate (frequently needed to fly with a pet or for boarding facilities), your pet will need a veterinary exam to complete for certificate.
f you’re thinking through your trip and realize that bringing your pet may not be an easy option, consider boarding or finding a pet sitter. Last week we shared our top tips for boarding pets. ERAH boards both dogs and cats (and can handle unexpected boarding anxiety, as well as providing medical care while you are away), and we can recommend other local pet care services, too.