Travelling with your pet(s) can be great fun and an enjoyable way for you and your faithful fur-buddy to check out and experience different environments. Before we set off with our pet though, we need to prepare and plan wisely, since obviously our family pets cannot do so themselves. These basic guidelines apply before embarking on a journey with your pet.

  • Know your pet’s physical condition. You should conscientiously examine your pet before your departure and if necessary go to the vet for a thorough check-up, plus ensure all vaccinations and other medical travel requirements are met. Health certification may be a must for certain types of travel. If your pet is on medication, make sure you take a sufficient quantity along for the duration of your journey, and check locations of the nearest animal hospitals or vets en route before you depart.
  • Driving in a car. Slowly get your pet used to riding in your car, starting with very short drives. For most, they will love this and after a couple of outings get all excited at the prospect of going for a drive. Cats are best conditioned to car travel from very young as, once adults, they’re unlikely to enjoy going in a car. The more they gradually become accustomed to travelling, the better. Your pet is probably best secured in a carrier or pet seatbelt when travelling by car. Do not allow your pet to stick its head out of the window; there’s the possibility of being struck by something and this might also cause car sickness. Always ensure your pet stays cool in hot weather and use the aircon if necessary. It’s a good idea to reduce your pet’s food and liquid intake about 12 hours prior to embarking on a long journey – and also to exercise them well, by walking energetically or playing with their ball or toys – so they’re less likely to become overstimulated or suffer from motion sickness. A tired pet is always more likely to behave.
  • When stopping, it is best never to leave your pet unattended in your car, but if you have no choice, leave your car windows open enough to provide adequate ventilation and cooling, and try to park your vehicle in the shade; it’s a criminal offence if a dog suffers – or, God forbid, dies (yes, sadly, many do die this way each year) – as a result of being left in a hot car. Bear in mind a shady spot will move over a period of time, and keep your absence from the car to a minimum – it can quickly overheat and cause high-risk dehydration in your pet. Never place your pet in a carrier or crate with its lead attached, as this may cause strangulation. And dial 999 if you ever come across a pet in distress as a result of being left in a vehicle.
  • If too old, too young, sick or pregnant, it is probably best not to undertake a trip with your pet, and you ought instead to consider a pet carer/sitter to take good care of your fur-baby instead. You do not want your geriatric or juvenile pets getting stressed out, sickly, and spoiling your trip.
  • When driving, you need to take regular breaks for your pet to go to the restroom. Get your dog to pee and poop on grassy patches or other suitable rest stop sites for pets. Remember to pick up and use the pet refuse bins provided – there are major fines for not doing so. Get your cat to use the litter box before setting off and take it with you for travel use. Do not let your pet run loose as it may get confused by traffic, strange surroundings, and get lost. With this in mind, have your pet microchipped or its collar tagged before you leave home.
  • If travelling by bus, first check the bus service allows your pet to travel with you, and carefully consider the points above. The same applies to train travel. When going on a cruise, there are a number of cruise ships which allow pets, but again, take all aspects carefully into account. Air travel is a whole subject on its own. You need to book long in advance, and check all flight requirements applicable to your pet. Ensure your domestic or international travel documentation and immunisation requirements are all in order well ahead of departure. Before booking your pet-friendly hotel or B&B room, check their pet policies and rules carefully. Ask the Receptionist to call you if your pet creates any disturbance for other guests. Always remember, the best way to keep your pet quiet and calm, is by being so yourself. A massage for your dog can work wonders, and there are ideally-suited over-the-counter calming products for dogs and cats available from pharmacies and supermarkets.
  • Things to take with you for your pet:
    • Food – do not alter your pet’s usual diet and use the same brand as you would at home. If you’re unsure about where to buy replacement supplies on your trip, bring sufficient food with you;
    • Water – a large supply, at least 10 litres (2 gallons) of water should be considered mandatory. Again, keep your pet hydrated;
    • Two leads per pet and spare collar;
    • Pet photo – as above there are times family pets get lost when taking a trip with their owners. Have a description of your pet handy as well. In the unfortunate event your pet becomes lost, these will help considerably;
    • Pet toys;
    • First aid box;
    • Pet comb/brush;
    • Bed/bedding.
As avid pet lovers ourselves, we at House and Home Sitters advocate only making short day-trips with our furry friends, and believe for any longer periods of time it is far more beneficial to provide professional pet care for your beloved pet in its own familiar home environment. Read more of our Latest News articles here.

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