Traveling with a furry friend can add fun to your trip, but do some homework before hitting the road and you’ll keep your pet a happy voyager. Take your pet’s personality into account when charting the course for a great adventure. Planning ahead can help relieve any stress a pet may feel when leaving the cozy familiarity of home.
Investigate before you go. Many airlines allow only a limited number of pets aboard any one flight, so you’ll need to register your dog with the airline before you board the plane. Check on required crate or carrier dimensions. Label both carrier and pet’s collar with as much identifying information as possible, including both your home and destination addresses and your contact info.
Check the weather for your destination and dress your pup accordingly. Furry dogs and short-nosed pups may need a cooling vest for hot-weather climates. Smaller dogs have more difficulty than big dogs in adjusting body temperatures to cope with extremes. Make sure the smaller ones have a sweater for chilly cars or airplane cabins.
Take plenty of toys, a blanket that reminds them of home, a collapsible water bowl and extra food. Food can play an important role in a successful trip whether you’re traveling by car or airplane. Prevent carsickness by feeding your pup a few hours before you hit the road. Don’t overdo snacks before the flight, since dogs that are not used to flying can be prone to upset stomachs.
Let your dog get accustomed to spending time in your car If you’re planning a long drive. Drive the dog to a nearby park a few times to create a positive association with the car. Use those drives to test out your dog’s excitability and consider using a harness for safety if you see your pet may distract you from driving. Make your pet comfortable on the road by keeping your car cool.
Take a relaxing walk with your dog before setting out for an airplane flight. Some pets are frightened easily by loud noises. They may feel anxiety about separating from their owners or being in unfamiliar places. I recommend anti-anxiety medication for these pets if appropriate. Check with your veterinarian and ask which product would have a calming effect on your pet.
You may want to consider non-prescription nutritional supplements to relax pets that have very mild anxiety. I suggest Solliquin or Zylkene. Your vet may prescribe trazodone, alprazolam or diazepam, which are anti-anxiety medications that work within hours of administration.
If your veterinarian prescribes an anti-anxiety medication for your pet, try it well in advance of the flight to check its effectiveness. If one drug doesn’t work, ask your vet to suggest another option.
My veterinarian recommends giving the anti-anxiolytic drug to pets the night before and the morning of the trip. The goal of anti-anxiolytic drugs is NOT to sedate your pet but to relax your pet and reduce reactions to unpleasant activity. Sedating the pet for the flight may compromise how your pet breathes, maintains blood pressure, and reacts to sudden movements. They could suffer an injury during turbulence because they might not be able to right themselves properly.
My vet is particularly concerned that they may unknowingly place nose and mouth against the side of the carrier and obstruct their breathing. This could lead to vomiting and aspirating their food.
You may want to try a DAP collar that emits stress-zapping hormones to ease travel stress.
Try to keep your dog’s stress to a minimum if staying at a pet-friendly hotel. Ask for a room away from the elevator to avoid foot traffic in front of your door. Put up the “do not disturb” sign on the door so that housekeeping doesn’t surprise and scare your pet. Leave the TV on to give your pup some comforting background noise and drown out city clamor while you’re away.