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Traveling with Fido

Pet Car Travel: What to Do Before Em'barking
on a Trip With Your Pet

For families with pets, a summer vacation would not be complete without the companionship of their beloved four-legged friends. Yet, hitting the open road with Fido or Felix could cause stress to both pet and pet parent unless the right steps are taken to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

"Pets such as dogs and cats are often excited by the prospect of travel in cars and can enjoy a road trip as much as their human companions, but disruptions to their schedule can have a negative impact on pets, leaving them stressed and frightened," said PetsIncredible animal trainer and 2006 Comfort Zone Dog Trainer of the Year, Kellyann Conway. "Pet parents can keep their dog or cat content during travel by anticipating their needs and planning properly for the trip."

Conway suggests implementing the following easy steps to ensure a pet's comfort during any travel situation:

For Car Travel  

  • Acclimate your pet to the vehicle prior to the trip to determine if he or she has problems with motion sickness and/or exhibits excessive excitability that may require treatment from a veterinarian.

  • Secure your pet in a carrier or a pet seatbelt harness to ensure your cat or dog is safe in the event of an accident and is unable to cause distraction to the driver.

  • Try to keep your pet on his normal feeding schedule.

  • Keep plenty of fresh water on-hand to ensure your pet stays well hydrated.

  • Stop often, allowing your pet to get a little exercise and some extra potty breaks.

  • Don't forget a leash and a properly fitted collar and id tags for pit stops during the journey.

  • Bring your pet's identification, medication and a current photo in the event you are separated. Also, talk with your veterinarian about microchipping your pet for added security in your travels.

  • Never ever leave your pet alone in a car. Extreme cold and hot temperatures (even if a window is left partially open) can be fatal in just a matter of minutes.  

For Hotel Travel  

  • Most hotels also will require you to provide proof of vaccinations or a health certificate.

  • Avoid hotel food; always bring your pet's regular food.

  • When packing, include some of your pet's creature comforts including favorite bedding, toys and food dish.

  • If staying in a hotel, bring your pet's crate or carrier and consider putting out the "Do Not Disturb" sign to keep out unexpected hotel staff. Also consider leaving the television or radio on to drown out unfamiliar voices and noises which may frighten your pet.  

Conway also recommends the use of pheromone therapy products like Comfort Zone with D.A.P. for dogs and Comfort Zone with Feliway for cats. Comfort Zone with D.A.P. for dogs mimics the comforting pheromones produced naturally by a nursing mother dog. Comfort Zone with Feliway for cats mimics feline facial pheromones which provide a calming familiarity in the environment. Both are available as a spray or diffuser that can be used directly on bedding or on a bandana tied around the pet's neck for the travel portion of your trip at the final destination to help ensure the pet is comfortable in their new surroundings.

"Being subjected to new surroundings during travel can cause added stress to your pet resulting in some disruptive behaviors such as excessive barking, whining and even inappropriate soiling while on your travels," said Conway. "However, if you follow some simple guidelines and use pheromone therapy, traveling with your pet can be very relaxing for both pet and parent."

(Sources: Central Life Services)