One might think Jessica Henry has a story or two to tell about taking her chow-retriever mixes on vacation and camping.
But the director of the Allen County SPCA says, if you prepare properly, there are no crazy tales of a dog taking over the wheel or cats chewing out the seat.
With summer just around the corner, many people are packing up their bags and are eager to travel around the world. And guess what? Fido is coming with them. While pets are like family to most of us, there are certain precautions we should take when traveling with our pets.
Practice makes perfect. No one wants to discover her dog gets car sick two hours into a six-hour trip. Henry advises taking the pet on a few practice trips, which will also ease anxiety.
“Always talk to a vet, too, if your dog is prone to car sickness,” she says. “The vet might be able to prescribe an anti-nausea medication.”
Proper ID. Henry says it’s important to have a pet microchipped before leaving town. In the event that he gets loose, the first thing an animal shelter will do is scan for a microchip.
Lucy Postins, founder of The Honest Kitchen, also advises having tags on a pet. If your home phone number is printed on the tag, consider taping over it with your cell phone number so you can be reached while you are traveling. Being in a strange place can make pets anxious and more likely to bolt – and less likely to find their way back to you.
Know the law. Some states might require different vaccines. Check with your veterinarian before traveling and obtain a proof of vaccination. Henry also advises to make sure that your pet is current on heartworm, flea and tick prevention, especially if traveling to an area where there’s a problem.
Buckle up. The excitement of new sights and sounds during travel can make pets excited and want to jump around in the car. A secure carrier or pet seatbelt makes the trip more enjoyable for everyone. Not only will it keep a pet from wriggling around your feet while driving, but it’s safer in the event of a crash, Henry says.
Work up a sweat. Exercise not only prevents you from packing on the pounds, it’s also a great way to tucker out your pets and help them feel calm in strange surroundings or routines. Dogs tend to unwind in outdoor settings, while cats are better suited for indoor activities.
During the trip, Henry says that if you need to stop – the animal probably does, too. Give the pet a chance to stretch legs and eliminate. Upon arriving at a destination, maintain a regular exercise routine – or more. It will reduce stress levels and help the dog sleep better.
Keep them occupied. “For (your) own sanity and enrichment of the animal, provide something for the animal to do – whether it’s a chew toy or an interactive toy,” Henry says. “Sort of like you do with your kids.”