10 Safety Tips for Traveling With Your Pet

Traveling solo can be hard enough as it is — from making sure your bag is totally packed to ensuring that everything’s all locked up before you leave the house, the long and stressful process of getting up and going somewhere can really take a lot out of you. Throw kids, friends, family members, or a mix of the three into the equation, and things are only going to get more complicated.

Thankfully, traveling doesn’t have to get even more stressful than it already is just because you’re bringing your pet along. These ten safety tips are sure to make traveling with your pet easier, not harder. From crate tips to feeding times and everything in between, you can depend on these pointers to guarantee a smooth, stress-free trip for you and your furry best friend.

Dog in Pet Carrier

Use a Carrier or Crate

No matter if you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, a carrier or a crate for your dog or cat is absolutely the way to go. Unless your dog is small enough to fit on your lap, traveling by air or rail means your pet will need to remain in their crate for the duration of the flight. With that being said, you should never have your cat or dog out of their carrier when traveling by car. It’s never safe.

Make Sure Their ID Tags are Up to Date

Before you leave, you’ll want to check your pet’s ID tag to make sure that the contact info on it reflects the most current information. Look over any home addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses that you might have printed on the reverse side opposite their name and, if anything has changed, go ahead and get a new tag made. If your state requires a rabies tag for dogs (and, odds are, they do), make sure that’s up to date too.

Prepare Them for the Road Ahead

If you’re going to be traveling by car, you can prepare your dog or cat for their upcoming trip by putting them in their travel crate and taking them for increasingly long drives in the weeks and months leading up to the big day. This will get them accustomed to the car ride and also let you know how they do in the car so that you know what to expect (and, as a result, what to prepare for).

Dog with food and toys

Bring a Travel Kit

Are you bringing a backpack stocked with good snacks, important papers, and fun things to do on the ride to your destination? You should do the same for your pet! Grab a folder or an envelope and put all their most recent records in it, then stick it in a bag with toys, food, water bottles, extra leashes, and any medications they may take. Having this travel kit handy will make a world of difference and save you the trouble of searching through suitcases when making a pit stop.

Research Vets Before Leaving

You never know when a medical emergency might come up, so it’s best to know the name, hours, and location of the area’s veterinarians and animal hospitals before you leave. Even something as simple as an upset stomach could put your pet in need of medical attention while away from home, so it’s good to know exactly where to go on the off chance you need to take them to see the vet. National Motor Club’s trip planning tool makes this easier than ever, giving you the means and the convenience of providing you with the research on your destination before you even leave the house. Check it out for yourself!

Make Frequent Stops

Dog DrinkingWhen traveling by car, it’s in your best interest to stop frequently and let your pet stretch their legs for a bit. Let them use the restroom, sniff around, and decompress for a little before heading back out on the road again. It’ll make the car ride easier for both you and them if they’re not cooped up the entire time from point A to point B. Plus, a chance to burn off some energy might mean they nap for the rest of the way there!

Plan Feedings Carefully (and Water, Too)

You probably don’t need to be reminded that pets can get carsick, too. If your trip coincides with feeding time, try giving them their breakfast or dinner a few hours before you depart — this will give their food a chance to settle before you head out on the road. As for water breaks, feel free to give them a drink whenever you stop and stretch (as long as you can plan for a potty break later on down the road).

Watch the Temperature

Whether they’re riding on a train, in a car, or on a plane, it’s vital that your pet stay nice and comfortable. Temperature is a big part of this. If traveling by car, make sure they get some air conditioning or some heat, depending on the outside temp. If traveling by train or plane, see if the area where their crate will be stored is climate controlled. If not, make sure they’re moved to an area that is. A breathable, USDA-approved crate is also a must-have.

Cat in carrier

Additional Car Safety

Some additional car safety tips include waterproof seat covers and floor mats in case of any accidents and placing a friend or family member or loved one that knows the pet in the back with them so that they’re not too disoriented. These extra steps will help you go the extra mile in ensuring your pet’s complete and total safety while traveling.

Additional Plane Safety

If you’re going to be traveling by plane, you should consider consulting with your vet first to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to travel by air (which, in most cases, requires them to be sedated). Also, be sure to book direct flights and guarantee that your pet is flying on the same flight as you. These plane tips will help maximize the safety of your four-legged friend so everyone arrives at the destination safely and soundly.

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