Guest Blog: Cars, Planes, Cats & Dogs – Travelling with a Pet

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By: Guest bloggers Dr. Ryan Llera, and Edie the PugThe travel season is not quite over yet and perhaps you’re ready to take some time off with the family including the pets. Travelling with pets can be lots of fun but also can be an anxious endeavour for both you and them. Before you hit the open road or take to the skies, let’s do our part to make it a safe and enjoyable time for everyone. Edie the Pug and I are here to help share some tips for your upcoming adventures!

Car Rides

Safety in the car just isn’t for you; your pets have to be safe also. We’re talking about restraint. Cats should always be in a carrier. Preferably the carrier should be large enough for them to stand up and walk around in (though my cat prefers to curl up) but small enough to fit on the floor behind a seat which is the safest place.

Edie wants you to be safe & loves car rides!If you will be using a pet carrier, place it out in your home weeks before your trip to allow your pet to become accustomed to it. Remove the door or fix it in the open position. Place treats or even offer small meals just inside the carrier door and gradually move further to the back of the carrier to give your pet the opportunity to choose to move inside. Be patient and take your time.

SleepyPod Clickit Sport harness (from Sleepypod.com)For longer trips you may need a larger type crate (if space allows) for a litterbox and water or food dishes. Dogs should wear seatbelt harnesses unless they are a toy breed then they should be in a carrier. Seatbelt harnesses should be comfortable, well fitting, and sturdy. There are many restraint devices out there but they may not have been tested for safety ratings. For more safety info, you can visit the Center for Pet Safety website where they have tested many types (using crash test dummies).

Flying Trips

What about when you fly? Airlines will have different requirements for carriers so you will need to check with the airline. If your pet is going in cargo, make sure the carrier has a secure type of closure, not clips as we wouldn’t want anyone escaping!

A common request I get is about sedation for the trip. Many dogs don’t seem to be bothered by a car trip but some do mind and there is a fair chance that many cats will vocalize. In some cases they’re just talking but sometimes it’s more of a concern or bother for the other passengers especially if kitty is frantic in the carrier. As mentioned before, by no means would I suggest that your cat get free roam of the car as it is a safety hazard to everyone.

It is best to contact your veterinarian a few weeks before your trip to discuss your plans to see if any medication is recommended for your pet. Your veterinarian is the best person to judge your pet’s personal needs while taking into account any medical issues. You should never be given anything over the counter especially without contacting your veterinarian.

Things to know when travelling with a pet

These are the two main points to focus on when travelling with your pets. There is much more but we will touch on them briefly here.

Nausea : Some animals can get car sick just like people! If they do, it may be best if they are fasted before a trip or only feed them a small meal. Alternatively, your veterinarian can recommend or prescribe something to help.

Identification & Records : Before leaving, make sure your pets tags or microchip information is up to date in case of a separation. If you will be gone for awhile or if your pet has a medical condition, it may be useful to bring a copy of pertinent records or information should they need medical attention.

First aid kit : Particularly if you’re camping, this may be a necessity. Bandage material, antibiotic ointment, tick removers, peroxide, and eye wash are just a few of the items that might be handy.

Pit stops : Take a break every few hours on longer trips! Stretch your legs and let your dog do the same. For cats, this might be a good time to set a litterbox in the back of a vehicle for them to try to use though some cats may be too stressed. I would also suggest having a leash & harness on cats just as another aid in keeping them from escaping or getting under seats.

Well that’s the basics of pet travel and we didn’t even talk about moving overseas! Plan ahead and be safe. Remember, it’s not just a vacation; it’s an adventure!

Gremlin napping during a trip

Disclaimer: Blog posts may be opinions which are my own and do not reflect on those of my current or any former employers. I did not receive any compensation from SleepyPod or the Center for Pet Safety.

Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian living & working in Kingston, Ontario where he has been an associate vet at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic since 2012. He is a 2006 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and made the trek up north. He & his wife, Jennifer, share their home with 3 cats, 2 dogs, and 2 horses. You can find more of Ryan’s blogs at www.drryanllera.com or see what else he is up to on Facebook or Twitter @DrRyanLleraDVM.

Miss Edie the Pug is a proud Canadian pug who focuses on sharing and blogging what matters to pets and pet parents. She is very social spending her days advocating for other animals, saying hello to her pet friends, and bringing smiles to everyone’s faces. You can see more of her on her blog at ILoveMyDogMoreThanMyKids.com , follow her on Twitter @EdiethePug , as well as Facebook & Instagram.

Sep 16, 2015
by Emily Cook
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