PetRelocation.com recently released the results of its first Holiday Pet Travel Survey of more than 7,000 pet owners worldwide. Sixty-three percent said they travel at least 50 miles with their pets during the holidays.
In some states, seat belts are mandatory for dogs. From a safety perspective, unrestrained pets are responsible for more than 30,000 accidents every year according to the ASPCA.
Here are some tips for safer pet travel this holiday season.
Keep a copy of all vaccination records in your dog’s duffel bag. Should an emergency arise once you are on the road, you will have the important information you need. You will also need these records when boarding Fido for the day or overnight if you take an excursion where your furry companion is not allowed.
Collar and leash
Remember that taking Fido out of the car for potty breaks must include his collar and leash being secured and poop bags. A foreign territory brings unique smells that are hard to resist, and your dog can escape before you can say, “Sit, stay.”
Consider a safety harness when traveling. The back seat is the safest place for a dog to avoid air bag deployment in the event of an accident. Acclimate Fido to the harness by allowing him to wear the harness around the house for a few minutes at a time. Graduate to short car trips in the area. Work into longer trips and never scold Fido in the process. He’s getting used to it just as you are.
A good harness should have strong webbing such as nylon, strong stitching, should allow the pet to sit and stand comfortably and should be both comfortable and reliable if an accident occurs.
Fido won’t want to get lost, so be sure that he has a current tag with an emergency phone number firmly attached to his collar or harness. Most people travel with a cell phone, making this the perfect number for your dog’s tag.
First aid kit
There are a number of doggy first aid kits on the market, and if you have the time, you can even put together your own. Some essentials to include are tweezers to remove ticks, styptic powder to stop toenail bleeding, eye wash to flush wounds, gauze bandages, adhesive tape, scissors and antiseptic moist wipes.
Food and water
Be sure to bring along Fido’s favorite food so as not to upset his stomach. There are great roadworthy foods and treats on the market. If you will be cooking for Fido, make the food ahead of time and pack it along with your own goodies. Your dog is used to drinking water from your hometown, and when traveling it’s a good idea to bring along as much of Fido’s drinking water as you can, and rely on bottled water as back-up. Nothing puts the damper on holiday spirits like an emergency visit to the vet.
Seat covers and blankets
Protect your seats from muddy paws with covers and blankets made especially for your type of automobile. Always carry additional towels and wipes to clean off your rambunctious Rover when visiting with family and friends.
Beds and crate
Don’t leave home without Fido’s favorite blankie or bed. You don’t want him sleeping on the guest bed—or do you? Bring sheets, too, so if your furry companion is accustomed to sleeping on the furniture, he won’t leave any tell-tale signs. If Fido calls his crate his den, then bring it along for a good night sleep during your Thanksgiving trip.
Don’t forget the toys! If Fido is nervous when away from home, help ease his discomfort by bringing as many toys from home as you can. Familiar smells and chew toys will help calm even the most anxious pet. If your dog is a music hound, by all means pack his favorite CD for his and your listening pleasure.
Double-check hotel reservations
You are ready to go—but before you back the mini-van out of the driveway, call your hotel to confirm your reservation and that they are expecting Fido. Nothing says bummer like a newly implemented “no pets allowed” policy since you made your reservation.
Susan Sims is the editor and Carol Bryant is the social media director and writer for FIDO Friendly magazine. Visit www.fidofriendly.com.