According to the U.S. Department of transportation, over two million live animals are transported by air each year. In fact, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 37% of pet owners travel with their pups each year.
It’s no secret America loves their pets. The sheer number of animals that accompany their owners on the road only confirms this fact. No one is surprised either. Who wants to leave their sweet canine behind (or pay that hefty doggie daycare fee)?
Yet, taking your dog on vacation may sound daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. It just requires a little planning.
When it comes to planning a vacation, you have to start early. This is especially true if you’d like to bring your pet along.
First things first, lock down accommodations early. Whether you decide to stay in a hotel or rental property, you’ll want to book in advance. Pet-friendly rooms fill up fast. Believe it or not, many other dog owners have the same idea as you! Always be sure to call and get verbal confirmation pets are allowed. The same applies for booking your transportation. Many airlines and trains have a set capacity for live animals they can transport per trip.
Next, get your packing list ready.
To ensure a smooth trip, you’ll want to make sure you have all the right supplies. A few weeks out, start making a list of all the essentials. That way you have time to order anything you may forget.
To keep your load light, you might even consider shipping a small portion of your pet’s food to your destination via Amazon Prime instead of bringing it with you, especially if you are flying and have limited space.
Some other items you might consider packing in an easily accessible bag are:
- Wet wipes! You never know when there will be dirty paws.
- Their favorite toy
- Calming chews to help combat anxiety
- A collapsible water bowl (this is especially important if you are traveling in the car. You never know when you could break down and hot summer temps can be lethal to pets.)
- A bed sheet if you are driving to save your car from pet hair!
Preparing your pup for the trip
Getting your pet ready for vacation starts weeks before the actual trip.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is get your pet accustomed to unfamiliar places before hitting the road. You don’t want the first new place they’ve ever been to be the airport.
The importance of exposing your pet to new environments is especially important if they have never traveled with you before. A couple weeks before your trip, begin to expose them to new environments regularly. Take them to the local farmer’s market or a pet-friendly restaurant once or twice a week.
If your pet is traveling in a kennel, the same concept applies. Make sure they are accustomed to the crate prior to going out of town.
The day before your vacation, make sure to get their energy out. The last thing you want is for them to be all wound up in transit. Take them for a very long walk the night before to wear them out. This will also be helpful for a good night’s sleep.
Speaking of sleep, you may consider sleeping with your pet the night before your trip.
This is definitely not for everyone, but sleeping with your pet has been proven to reduce anxiety in pets and their owners. Just make sure to have the proper sleeping arrangements to experience the benefits of snuggling up with your fur baby. You’ll want to have enough space to stay comfortable and undisturbed all night long.
However, this could potentially cause more harm than benefit. If you and your pet are not used to sleeping with each other, it may be hard to sleep soundly and comfortably. If anything, try it for a couple nights before the big trip.
Combat their anxiety
It’s not uncommon for your pet to be anxious on a long trip. The good news is there is more than one remedy for calming anxiety in pets. Here are a few we like:
Chamomile essential oil is a good option if you prefer a natural alternative to drugs. One pet owner’s vet recommended a few drops on the tongue to help their puppy feel sleepy. Make sure to consult your vet for dosage guidance.
Another natural alternative to drugs is CBD oil, which has been proven to reduce anxiety in pets. Once again, be sure to consult your vet on dosage guidance.
Anxiety vests work under the theory that pressure applied to your pet’s torso causes a calming effect similar to swaddling a crying infant or hugging a distressed person. If your pet experiences anxiety regularly, you may consider investing in an anxiety vest.
Before heading to the airport, have your paperwork ready. Also, be sure to locate the pet relief areas are in the airport you’re traveling to prior to arriving. This will keep you from stressing out and your pet having an accident.
Speaking of accidents, The Department of Transportation recommends you don’t give your pet solid food for six hours prior to your trip. This will help prevent any accidents en route. However, make sure they have an adequate amount of water before hitting the road.
Last, but not least, have a smooth ride and enjoy being with your pet on vacation!