Happy Holidays! This is a very popular time for travel … for both people and pets. A recent study by IPX1031 indicates that a whopping 62% of Americans plan to travel this month. Of those, 38% will stay within their home states, while 12% will venture abroad. The remaining 50% are divided between traveling across the country or staying near home. Many pets will also be accompanying their owners on these trips. In fact, according to data from American Pet Products, approximately 78% of pet owners take their furry or feathered friends with them each year. In this article, a local Dawsonville, GA veterinarian shares some helpful tips for traveling with animals.


Should I Travel With My Pet?


When scheduling your pet’s vacation, it is vital to consider their well-being. While some pets may prefer being with their owners, traveling may not actually be very enjoyable for them. Consider your pet’s age, size, health, and temperament before making travel plans.


Your pet’s age is also a factor. Animals that are under eight weeks of age shouldn’t travel long distances. Very young pets also shouldn’t be left alone: boarding or pet-sitting is the best option here. Senior pets may also feel more comfortable and safer at home or with a sitter.


Choosing A Pet-Friendly Destination 


Consider your pet’s comfort before bringing them along. For instance, pets used to hot weather may not fare well in colder areas, whereas snow dogs may struggle with tropical climates. 


While weather is important to consider, it’s not the only factor. Research any potential hazards your pet may encounter at your chosen location and consult with your vet about any additional vaccines that may be recommended. For example, if you’re planning a trip to a cabin in the woods, it might be a good idea to get your dog vaccinated for Leptospirosis. A rattlesnake vaccine could also be worth considering if you’re headed to the desert … especially if Fido has a habit of chasing, well, everything. 


It’s not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with local plants and critters that may be dangerous to your pet. This is especially important with dogs, as Fido will want to sniff—and possibly eat—all the things. We also advise that you save a list of veterinarians in the area, including an emergency clinic.


Keep Your Pet’s Medical Records Handy


Depending on where you are going, you may need to provide proof that your pet is parasite-free and fully vaccinated. Keeping copies of those records handy is always a good idea. Email digital copies to yourself or upload them to the cloud, so you can access them from anywhere. You may also need to provide documentation of your pet’s medical history.


Make Sure Your Pet’s ID Is Up-To-Date.


We can’t overstate the importance of ID tags. Remember to confirm that your contact details are correct in the microchip manufacturer’s database. (You can try the Pet Microchip Lookup Tool here.) You may also want to consider a GPS tag, which can precisely track pets’ whereabouts. However, be sure to do plenty of research beforehand, as these tags all operate a little differently. Some work through cell towers, while others use satellite technology. Additionally, there are various models and subscription options available.


Tips For Driving With Pets


If you’re headed over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s, and want to take your pet, driving by car is by far the most comfortable option for Fluffy and Fido. You can also control when, where, and how long you stop. Plus, we all know that our canine friends love to explore new parks and trails. (Tip: download a few apps to find new places with your pal.)


The biggest safety tip when traveling in a car is to keep your furry bff crated. Fido may like sticking his cute snoot out the window, but this can be very dangerous. If you were to have an accident, or even if you had to stop suddenly, your pup would be very vulnerable to injuries. Plus, he could get rocks, stones, dust, insects, or even cigarette butts in his face or eyes.


That said, many pets get stressed out or uneasy when traveling. Some even get carsick. If your pet becomes very stressed or uneasy when traveling, ask your Dawsonville, GA vet about medications or pet calming products.


Pets And Air Travel


Nowadays, more and more pets are taking to the skies. However, plane rides can be scary for Fido and Fluffy.  In fact, they can even be dangerous. 


Travel with your pet in the cabin if possible. This may require purchasing another seat, but it’s well worth it. Just make sure you check the size and weight restrictions first.


There are circumstances in which your pet may not be permitted to accompany you in the cabin. While it is not uncommon for pets to fly in cargo holds, this can be an uncomfortable experience for them. Often, these areas are not temperature-controlled. Your beloved companion could become dangerously hot or cold. Furthermore, they will not be able to relieve themselves during the flight, which will add to their discomfort. The noise and vibration of the aircraft can also be frightening for many pets. Additionally, there may be concerns regarding airflow and quality. For pets with respiratory issues or those with short snouts, such as brachycephalic breeds, it’s especially important to try to avoid having them fly with the cargo. 


We also recommend using direct flights when booking air travel. As a result, your pet will spend less time in the cargo hold, and they are less likely to be sent to the wrong place. Make sure to inform the flight attendant that your pet is aboard.


Lastly, we highly recommend reviewing the airline’s policies and safety records regarding pet transport before booking your flight. These can vary pretty drastically from company to company. 


Choose A Sturdy Travel Crate


Choosing a carrier that is sturdy is very important: the last thing you want is for your carrier to fall apart during your trip! Include a form of identification. You can use mailing labels, and seal them with clear packing tape to make them waterproof. Luggage tags also work.


Adding bedding will make the crate more appealing.


If you are traveling by plane, or even on some buses or trains, you may need to pass through a security checkpoint. Keep a leash and collar handy in case you need to take your pet out of the carrier.


What Should I Pack For My Pet? 


You’ll need to pack a bag for Fido or Fluffy. Your pet will need food, toys, treats, wipes or towels, dishes, bedding, toys, a spare leash or tie line, and a first-aid kit. Kitties will also require a litterbox and litter, while dogs need waste baggies. If you are not sure whether your pet’s regular food will be available where you are going, consider ordering some in advance and getting it shipped to your destination. Ask your ve


Safe Travels! As your local Dawsonville, GA animal clinic, we are here to help if you have any questions about your pet’s health or care.  Please feel free to contact us for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs.