Travel Safely with your Pets!

by Nancy Hassel,

Today, January 2, is ‘National Pet Travel Safety Day‘ which if you own a pet and travel anywhere, even 5-minutes to your local park, should be observed every day.   But if you’re taking a long road trip, flying with your pet, traveling by train, there are a few things to prepare for and consider ahead of your trip.

The basics  come into play here and you should have the following in your vehicle:

  • Extra water, and a water bowl.  Extra food and treats, you never know if you will need it if your car breaks down before you get to your destination.  Of course extra poop bags as well!
  • Extra collar and leash.  Clean towels, (I always have 3 or 4 in my trunk for my dog), protective car seat covers, check out 4Knines – great quality and durable for the biggest of pups.
  • Safety harness or seat that your pet is buckled into.  There are many on the market that are crash tested, look for those, and be sure to fit it properly to your pet.  My dog was Houdini the first few times he was in his car harness, and it is now fitted properly on him.

    Cody is getting ready to go on his next car ride adventure!
  • Bring a portable pet first-aid kit and have any medication your pet is on with, as well as medical records from your pet’s vet.   I personally print out a copy of my dog’s records and take a picture of a copy of it on my phone.   I also put the paper copy in a ziplock bag.
  • Their own bed will help have something familiar if they stress out in new environments at first arrival.
  • And prep your car before you go, tires have air?  Spare tire ready to go, just in case?  Do you have roadside assistance? Oil change and tune up recently?  Windshield fluid full?
  • Knowing where the local emergency veterinarian is where you are traveling to.  Download the Pet Connect app so you have updated information on where vet offices, pet stores, and other pet-related businesses are located.
  • If your pet is not used to being in the car except for going to the vet or groomers office, then think about taking them on shorter trips to get them used to it a few weeks prior.
  • Rescue Remedy is a great product to help calm a pet while on the road and is a natural product.  Calming treats work well too, there are many on the market that are also all natural.
  • You also don’t want to leave your dog in your car unattended, it can get very hot or cold.  This could be whether you’re traveling by car, boat, RV, etc.   Luckily there are now a few different monitors that you can use that will alert you via a notification to your phone if your car does get too hot or cold if you have to leave them unattended, let’s say to stop at the rest stop for a break, coffee or food – those lines can be long!  Check out the Pupp Com by PuppTech and RV Pet Safety offering pet safety monitoring devices.
  • Make sure where you are traveling too does not have breed restrictions on dogs or species of certain reptiles. Some areas can confiscate a breed of dog or reptile that may be outlawed.  Check state and local laws before you leave town with your pet.
  • Flying?  Be sure to check the airlines before you book your flight.  Can your pet travel inside the plane with you?  Is your pet a real service animal?  What breed restrictions do they have?  I personally wouldn’t fly with my dog, but many people do daily – and incredible amenities are now featured at airports like pet-potty stations, and just recently opened the Ark at JFK is the world’s first privately-owned animal reception terminal and quarantine facility.
  • Taking the train?  Every place is different when it comes to rules and regulations of what kind and size of pets you can bring with you on the train, metro, subway, Marta, etc.  You may have seen pictures of rather large dogs in carrying bags on the NYC subway system or have heard about the pet-friendly travel Amtrak offers, but Amtrak has limited it to 30lb and under for pets.  Some cities, you can go onto the subway, train, buses with your pets without a problem.  You will want to find out this information before you make it to your destination.
  • Staying at a hotel?  Make sure it is pet-friendly, many more hotel lines are rolling out the red carpet for pets and have amenities for pets, but again, some have weight sizes, breed restrictions, or are just not pet-friendly at all.

    Cody watching the world go by in a pet-friendly NYC hotel, making himself at home!
  • Parks – make sure if you decide to go into a park with your pet, that the pet is actually allowed there first. Camping?  Some parks require a lot of paperwork if you are bringing a dog, i.e. proof of dog license, rabies vaccination proof and more.  Check with the park first!
  • Leaving your pet home?  Book a pet sitter or daycare in advance as they can fill up, especially if you’re traveling during peak travel seasons.

A few other things to take into consideration are, if the weather is different where you are traveling too. Is it hotter? Pets can have different reactions to such.  If your pets are not used to traveling with you, sometimes a new environment can throw off even the calmest pet, be sure to watch for signs of distress.   I pack a backpack for my dog Cody so he knows when that is being packed we are hitting the road for an adventure, and he gets very excited about it!   Happy travels, have fun and stay safe!

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