When a Fur Baby Is Part of the Family
As more and more businesses become pet-friendly establishments, it seems like a logical next step to not only take your pet to dinner, but also on vacation. Why should Fido miss all the fun?
Traveling with a pet is not something you can just decide to do on a whim, however. From checking airline regulations to confirming your host or hotel can accept Snowball along with the rest of your family, here are a few ways to make sure everyone enjoys your summer trip.
Get app assistance: If you’re not heading to Grandma’s house, then using apps for finding pet-friendly accommodations, restaurants, and activities will make planning your trip much easier. BringFido is a free app for finding spots where your pet will be welcome. Ease your mind by downloading PetDesk to keep your fur baby’s health info all in one place, in case of an emergency, and the Pet First Aid app from the Red Cross to help you deal with lesser health issues.
Make your checklist: A written list that you can check off will ensure you don’t forget anything critical. Here’s a start:
Collapsible bowls for food/water
Pet food and treats
Your pet’s regular medication
Litterbox and litter
Extra collar and leash
Motion sickness meds from your vet
Pet first-aid kit
Baby wipes and paper towels
Brushes, toothbrush, and other grooming supplies
Update your info: If your pet isn't micro-chipped, now is the time to get that done. A tag can get lost; a microchip cannot. If your pet is already chipped, be sure your contact info is up to date.
Travel By Car
Taking a pet on a road trip can be a wonderful experience. Providing for its comfort and safety will make it even better. To start, it’s a good idea to get a pet seatbelt adapter. It will keep your pet in place, help secure it in case of an accident, and can comfort anxious animals. The back seat is the safest place in your car for a pet (just like for kids). While no state has a seatbelt law for pets, it is illegal in a number of states to drive with a pet on your lap, and can incur a fine.
A cage or crate is the other way to ensure safety. If Spot or Socks is not already crate-trained, introduce the crate over time before your trip, using lots of praise and treats while your pet settles into it. Make sure to provide a comfy place to lie down and a toy or two for distraction, and tightly secure the carrier in the car so it doesn't slide around.
Take regular breaks for walks, not only for your pet to relieve itself but also so it can stretch its limbs and burn some energy. If you don’t have water accessible in the car, provide plenty during stops. Remember that heat, nervousness, and anxiety can all make a pet more thirsty than usual. Consider withholding food until you reach your destination in order to lessen the chances of an upset tummy.
Travel By Air
Let’s get this out of the way first: Peacocks and goats are no longer permitted on most airplanes as emotional support or service animals (Southwest still allows trained miniature horses). That said, most airlines have their own policies regarding pet travel, usually available on their websites. Some allow pets of a certain size in the cabin, and fees and container requirements vary, so be sure to do your homework. However, larger pets — generally those over about 20-22 pounds — may need to travel in the cargo hold. Having your pet travel this way does come with some risks, so be sure to research that option thoroughly and really think through whether that is a good option for you and your pet.
Many airports now have pet break stations to let your pet relieve itself and stretch its legs. It’s important to walk your pet before boarding your flight, and if you have a layover, it will be a nice break from the confines of the carrier. You can contact the airports you’re flying in and out of to determine their accommodations and policies.
Pro tip: Update your pet’s tags with full details of your travel itinerary. You can attach a travel tag to its collar as well as to the crate it is traveling in.
Rideshares and taxis: You’ll need to look up pet policies for individual companies. For Lyft and Uber, individual drivers make the decision to let pets in their vehicles, so be sure you let the driver know before pickup.
Rental cars: Most rental car agencies allow pets, as long as they are crated and don’t leave a mess.
Public transportation: Subways and buses generally allow small pets if confined to a carrier. The New York City subway system famously implemented a policy allowing pets in bags, which has led to some innovative pet containment.
Service animals generally have special accommodations not available to regular pets. For example, most rental car agencies do not require service animals to be crated when riding in their vehicles.
In addition, many airlines waive the weight restrictions for cabin travel when it comes to service animals.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official position of any specific entity or organization. All opinions stated in this article are suggestions and are not intended to provide expert advice.