ANIMALS 101 – HERE ARE SOME TRAVEL & SAFETY TIPS FOR TRAVELLING WITH YOUR FUR-FAMILY.
Travelling with your animal family members can create wonderful memories, but it’s not always easy. Make sure you’re well prepared before you hit the road. There are many things to consider before you take your pet on a road trip, including the temperament, size & safety of your pet.
FIVE TOP TIPS for a Doggy Road Trip by Dr. Karen Becker (a holistic veterinarian in Canada)
1. Help Your Dog Love Car Rides — Some dogs seem to be hard-wired to love car rides. Others, not so much. If your dog has extreme anxiety about car travel, you may want to rethink a road trip, but there are ways to help your dog learn that a car ride is fun, starting with baby steps. Taking shorter rides can help. Experiment with taking trips when your dog has an empty stomach versus a few treats first. Some dogs do better travelling on an empty stomach while others do best with a small amount of food in their tummy.
Motion sickness – Some pets do experience motion sickness when travelling. Just about every cat we know hates car trips, and many show their displeasure by throwing up as soon as the key is turned in the ignition. A veterinarian in Avon, Connecticut made a fascinating discovery when one of his senior feline patients was fitted with an E-collar (veterinary cone) after a minor surgical procedure. For the first time in his life, the kitty didn’t throw up on the car ride home. Since then, the vet has recommended the E-collar for several more cats and a few dogs, and it has worked to relieve their motion sickness as well.
2. Put Safety First — You probably wouldn’t even consider driving in your car without a seat belt, and you shouldn’t allow your dog to ride unrestrained either. When your car is in motion, I recommend most dogs stay in a crate that fits your pet snugly, with enough room to be comfortable but not excess room (which poses a risk to your pet in an accident). Alternatively, you can use a safety harness to restrain your pet in the car, but be sure it has been crash-test certified for safety. See more safety tips below!
3. Plan Extra Time for Pit Stops — Travelling with a dog is not unlike travelling with a small child, in that you’ll need to plan extra time for plenty of stops along the way. Your dog will need to stop to go to the bathroom and let your dog stretch his legs every few hours. Plan to have clean up supplies on hand, along with your dog’s leash and harness, water bowl and fresh water to drink. Be sure to plan for mealtimes.
Ideally, feed your dog in the morning before you leave and again at night once you’ve settled into your hotel. If you’ll be stopping to eat along the way, plan to do so at a location where your pet can accompany you, as pets shouldn’t be left unattended in cars.
4. Pack for Your Pet — When travelling with your pet, you’ll need to bring all necessities, including items like poop bags and food bowls, but don’t forget to also pack some of your dog’s favourite toys, blankets and, depending on size, even his bed to remind him of home. You should also make sure your dog is wearing a collar with a current ID tag at all times, and pack a pet first aid kit in the event of an emergency. A recent photo on your phone is also recommended, in the event you become separated. A registered microchip is advised as collars can be removed.
5. Expect the Unexpected — If you’re expecting a road trip with your dog to be entirely free of hiccups, you may want to re-evaluate your expectations beforehand. Bringing your dog on vacation may provide you with wonderful new memories together and extra time to bond, provided your dog is truly up for the adventure. However, it can also cause extra stress on both you and your pet, especially if things don’t go exactly as planned. Be prepared to be flexible in your plans and keep your dog’s best interest in mind, even if it means skipping an activity or two.
If your dog is generally nervous or fearful, he’ll probably prefer to stay home, but even outgoing, confident dogs may have some anxiety when thrust into a new environment and routine. In this case, spraying your car or hotel room with Rescue Remedy or other anxiety-reducing flower essences may help take the edge off a potentially stressful situation. Talk to your veterinarian in advance about the options.
LET US TALK SAFETY!
A recent study confirms what almost all of us already know — pets riding in cars should be restrained. The study showed that free-roaming pets in vehicles increase driver distractions, unsafe driving behaviour, and stress for both drivers and pets. For everyone’s safety, including your pet’s, it’s important to secure him or her with a preferably crash-tested harness, travel crate, or travel carrier. You also get clips that go around the safety belt and then attached to their harness (Don’t use a collar for travel!).
- Never drive with your pet in the front seat — In the event of a collision, your dog or cat can be thrown into the windshield, even if restrained. Deployment of the passenger side airbag can also be dangerous to a small pet.
- Never drive with your pet on your lap — It is not only a serious distraction to driving, but your pet can get caught under the steering wheel and cause an accident or be thrown forward in a collision.
- Never drive with your pet unrestrained — Not only can your pet be a distraction, but an abrupt stop can cause him to fall and be injured. In the event of an accident, your frightened dog or cat may jump from your vehicle and run into moving traffic, be hit by other vehicles, or become lost.
- Never allow your pet to lean out your car window — Debris can fly into your pet’s eyes and cause abrasions or punctures that could result in blindness.
- Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle — Depending on the breed, level of anxiety, and the time of year, some people may be tempted to leave their pet in the car while running a short errand. Even during cooler months, never leave your dog unattended in your vehicle, no matter how short a period of time, to avoid extreme temperatures and hypothermia / heat stroke.
Thousands of dogs get hurt or die annually when travelling on the back of a truck/bakkie. You would not let your 3-year-old ride alone on the truck, would you? They are your responsibility, keep them safe!
Thanks for tuning in! Next week we will look at pets, noise phobias and thunderstorms.
WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!