By Katy Cable-TWR
a 3 min read
While there’s no place like home for the holidays, many will be traveling over the river and through the woods to get to grandmother’s house. And many wouldn’t think of not including their pets in the season’s celebrations. By following a few of these easy tips, I hope your holiday travels will be wonderful and hassle-free.
1. GET THE “OK” FOR TRAVEL FROM YOUR VET: Nothing sours holiday fun like a sick or out of control dog. Especially when you’re away from home. Prior to making any travel plans, confirm your pet is healthy and in good enough shape to make the journey by having them examined by your vet. A quick check-up can save you a lot of headaches. Let your vet know how you will be traveling, and where your destination is. This is also an excellent time to have the vet check your pet’s microchip info. In addition to making sure your pet has all the necessary vaccinations and is cleared for travel, they may also have some excellent suggestions and remedies should your pet wind up with a parasite, carsickness, or minor medical issue.
2. KEEP THINGS CONSISTENT AND PACK ESSENTIALS: This is NOT the time to change your dog’s food or a cat’s litter. Familiar food, water, bedding and toys will help make your pet feel less anxious. Being in a new unfamiliar surrounding and giving your dog new food and treats can bring on major GI problems and that is the last thing you need. Pack extra food, treats and medications so you’re covered should you run into a problem. It’s also a great idea to pack your pet’s favorite bed, toys and comforts.
3. BEFORE YOU LEAVE: Check your pet’s tag and microchip information are up-to-date with your CURRENT number. Should your pet go missing, you don’t want someone calling your home phone or an old number. Many pets stores have machines allowing you to make an inexpensive tag in the store if you need to update one in a hurry. Take a few minutes to research local emergency veterinary hospitals, or, at the very least, make sure your phone is loaded with an app that will find one for you. Hopefully you won’t need that information, but the time to make sure it’s handy is before a problem occurs, not after.
TRAVELING BY CAR: Whether your holiday destination is only a short drive away, or involves a major road trip, these tips will come in handy:
- PREPARE FOR YOUR JOURNEY: Some dogs enjoy riding in cars and won’t require much extra work on your part to make it an enjoyable experience. But others, like my little Olive, get completely sick and out of control. As tempting as it is to have your dog on your lap or hanging their head out the window, I highly recommend keeping them restrained in a crate or at the bare minimum a safety harness. If your dog freaks out or you run into a snag while driving, they can get in harm’s way and cause an accident. An unrestrained pet in the car can also be a major distraction. Keep your dog in a safe, cozy kennel or at the bare minimum a safety harness. It’s difficult to have them restrained but safety is the number one priority. Make sure you pack a comfy bed they can relax on, a few toys they love and plenty of fresh water. I also love cbd treats which keep anxious pets calm during travel. -They also soothe upset tummies.
- TAKE YOUR DOG ON A WALK AND POTTY BREAK! While they’re at it, hit the bathroom yourself. There is nothing worse than having to use the world’s filthiest gas station bathroom in desperation.
- CLOSE THE CONVERTIBLE & WINDOWS: If you’re driving through winter climates, this might not be an issue but out here in sunny So. Cal, it’s typically perfect convertible weather. I know it’s tempting to let your fur baby feel the breeze on their face and hang out the window, but it’s extremely dangerous! You run the risk of hitting the breaks and having your angel fly out the window or get hurt by flying debris.
- GO EASY ON THE FOOD/TREATS & WATER: I love giving Olive small bites of kibble, but I monitor her intake. I don’t need her getting sick from consuming too much. Plus, the more your pet eats, the more they will need to use the bathroom and that can be difficult if you’re on the road. Again, some small bites of a kibble can be a perfect snack.
- PLAN LOTS OF PIT STOPS: Making pit stops every few hours and giving your dog a chance to stretch their legs, have a potty break and get some fresh air will make the trip much more pleasant. If you’re running in to use the bathroom or grab a bite, be mindful of leaving your pet alone in the car too long in extreme temperatures. Double check windows are rolled up and the car is locked and secure.
TRAVELING BY PLANE: If your destination involves airplane travel, make sure you confirm your carrier’s rules regarding pets. Some breeds are not allowed by some airlines, in addition, many have weight restrictions and other fees/conditions. Double check the website and make sure you have any required vaccination and health papers they require.
- BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS ON SLOW DAYS/TIMES: It isn’t always possible to control when you travel, but try to avoid the peak days. During the holidays, every flight is crazy busy. Expect delays and packed flights. Regardless of when you travel, allow lots of extra time and come prepared with water, treats and amenities for your pet should their be a glitch in your plans. Ask the airport where the doggie relief area is and use it!
- GET A GOOD PET CARRIER: I highly recommend investing in a durable, comfy, carrier for your dog. I suggest using the carrier prior to travel so your pet is familiar with it beforehand.
ONCE YOU ARRIVE: Holidays can be stressful under the best of situations, be mindful when bringing your pet into the mix. First and foremost be very clear about the arrangements beforehand so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises. Confirm the living situation is not only pet-friendly but pet SAFE! Remember not everyone may be comfortable with your dog. Pets will be more curious and possibly anxious in a new, unfamiliar place and may act accordingly. If there are other pets in the home, that can pose an issue as well. Make sure you have a safe, secure place to leave you pet. I like to bring a collapsible metal crate which provides a safe familiar place for Olive. I fill it with her favorite toys and comfort items and also douse it in calming essential oils. I can cover the crate with a blanket and provide privacy and quiet or leave it open so she has a safe spot to retreat to. While visiting a new place with your pet, be extra cautious. Check gates, windows and doors to make sure your pet cannot escape. Also double check that all medications, dangerous objects and food are not in harm’s way. I would keep close supervision on your pet while in an unfamiliar living situation.
With some simple preparation and these easy tips, you will hopefully enjoy a stress-free, SAFE and wonderful holiday adventure!