With the events of 2020 changing many of our plans, more people are making travel plans this year. Depending on your travel plans, you may or may not be bringing your pet along with you.
In either case, we have the essential travel tips to make it safe and easy for you to get out of town this year!
At Pawfect Pet & House Sitting, we acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic is still happening, and things seem to change every day. Despite this, our professional pet sitting team is here for you and your pet whenever you need us! If you choose to travel, do so safely by taking the proper precautions. Before your trip, please read the CDC guidelines for safe travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you do feel sick, consider rescheduling your trip to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Decide if you are bringing your pet or not.
The first big decision to make once you know you are going out of town is whether or not you’re going to bring your pet. Although it is great to have your pet with you, make sure you weigh all of the pros and cons of bringing your pet on your trip.
A few helpful questions to ask yourself when deciding this include:
- Will my pet impact my ability to do the activities I want?
- Does the place I am traveling allow pets?
- Will it be more stressful for my pet to travel or stay at home?
It is important to note that traveling and being left at unfamiliar hotels or kennels can be stressful experiences for your pet. Although your pet will miss you while you’re gone, many pets enjoy the comfort of being in a familiar place following their usual routine. This is possible with a pet sitting service!
Some vacations are especially conducive to bringing a pet along, but not all of them are. So, when making travel arrangements and lodging decisions, make sure you double-check that everywhere you go, your pet can also go.
Traveling by plane or car with your pet
If you decide that your pet is going along on your trip, you need to take a few extra precautions to try and minimize the stresses of travel. Some of the most important things to note when traveling with your pet are to make sure they are microchipped, and they wear their collar at all times. Their collar should have identifying information like their name, your name, a phone number, and vaccination information. You can also add a temporary travel tag to their collar that includes the address and phone number of where you are staying.
Traveling by plane with a pet
Airlines are adding more and more pet travel restrictions and most airlines have one general rule to pets in the cabin: they must be able to fit under your seat while in their carrier. Some airlines don’t even allow pets unless they are legitimate service animals.
Flying is an extremely stressful situation for most animals, and it becomes even more stressful when they cannot be with you in the cabin. So, if you can, avoid flying with your pet. If you must fly, then here are some things you can do to minimize stress for your pet:
- Bring your pet to the vet within 10 days of your departure date. Most airlines require an up-to-date health certificate even to allow them on the flight, and for international travel, most countries have particular health requirements to follow.
- Book a direct flight. Having multiple transfers will add more time to your trip and require more movement in the crate for your pet. This is extremely stressful for them and should be avoided at all costs. Pets have been known to be left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or even mishandled, causing them injury during luggage transfers.
- Know the airline’s rules and regulations regarding pet travel. Not all airlines have the same requirements for pets flying, and some smaller airlines have more relaxed rules. Get to know these requirements, and always call an airline if you have specific pet travel questions.
- Get a travel crate that is approved by the USDA and the airline. At a minimum, your pet’s travel crate needs to be big enough for them to stand up in, turn around completely, and lay down comfortably. The crate’s door needs to be secure and latched, but not locked in case the airline staff needs to open it for any reason. If you have a long flight or a layover, attach a pouch of dry food to the carrier and a bowl for water so staff can feed your pet. Consider freezing a bowl of water and placing it in the crate the night before so it doesn’t spill, but they can drink from it as it melts.
- Put identification for your pet on the outside of the crate, including the words “live animal” in multiple locations. Identification cards should include your name, phone number, flight information, destination information, and a photo of your pet. You should also carry a photo of your pet in case they escape the carrier.
- Avoid using sedatives and tranquilizers, but if you must, test them out before the flight. Some sedatives have the opposite effect and cause pets to become more anxious, and tranquilizers can interfere with your pet’s breathing. Discuss this in-depth with your veterinarian during your pre-trip visit.
Be mindful that not all dog breeds should travel on planes because of their physiology. Breeds with short snouts (brachycephalic breeds) like bulldogs or pugs are more prone to respiratory issues and have a higher risk of dying during a flight. Their airways’ anatomy makes it difficult for them to regulate their breathing when they are stressed or exercising. When they’re stressed, their airway may collapse, cutting off their airflow. The lack of oxygen can easily lead to them overheat, collapse, and even die.
Traveling by car with a pet
If you aren’t traveling very far, driving may be your choice of travel. Although traveling by car seems like it should be simpler with your pet, there are still several considerations to take to ensure your pet’s safety and to minimize stress for your pet. Some of our top travel recommendations when taking your car include:
- Get your pet comfortable with car rides. If your pet hasn’t traveled a long distance in the vehicle before or gets anxious when riding in the car, start to bring them with you when you run errands in town or on smaller car trips to up their comfort level.
- Create a safe space for them to ride in the vehicle. This could be a crate with blankets or a nice area in the back seat that included a seat belt harness. When traveling in the car, these can protect your pet from abrupt stops or accidents. This also prevents them from climbing up onto you while driving.
- Do not leave them unattended in the vehicle. Heat and cold have proven to be deadly to many pets left alone in a car. Don’t leave your pet in your car, even with the windows cracked. If you need to go inside, have one travel partner take your pet out for a walk.
- Prep a travel kit for your pet. What you bring in your pet’s travel kit will vary according to the trip’s length and the type of animal you have. This should contain food, water, toys, a leash, treats, poop bags, and any other comfort items for most pets.
- Bring vaccination records. As a part of their travel kit, don’t forget to bring their vaccination records!
- Prepare to stop more often. Although you may not need to stop that often when driving, your pet may be used to going to the bathroom more often. Try to stop about every 1-2 hours to take your pet out for a break.
Book a pet sitter if you can’t bring your fur babies!
Depending on where you are traveling and how you are getting there, it may not be possible to bring your pet. That one factor alone should not deter you from travel! Sending your pet to a kennel can be intimidating, and it can cause some extra stress for your pet. One of the best options for you and your pet is to book a trusted pet sitter if you have to leave them at home while you travel.
Learn more about how our Pawfect Pet Sitters are taking extra precautions to keep you and your fur babies safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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