Recently, a friend of mine traveled cross-country with her three cats. She and her husband fretted as the trip approached, wanting to make the journey as stress-free as possible for them and their pets. To no one’s surprise, the trip went very well, and everyone arrived in good health and humor. Theirs is not a solitary tale. People move all over the place-and hopefully, take their animals with them. What’s the secret to smooth travels?
If you know that you’re moving, evaluate how your pets behave in a car. If they’re already used to it, great, if not, then take them for trips around town to gauge their tolerance for travel.
I always tell people to take kittens and puppies for car rides so they get used to it. Take them to the post office, the bank (dogs love the bankbiscuits!), around the block, down the street. If you haven’t done this, it’s not too late. Most dogs like car rides. And there are appropriate harnesses based on size so that a pooch is secure and not climbing all over the car and driver. Some, like the Solvit attach to a seat belt with a turnbuckle so are a snap to fasten. Cats, of course, should be in a carrier.
There are chemical means to ensure an animal is safely controlled in a car. Veterinarians can give sedatives or motion sickness medicine to minimize upset. There is a difference between anxiety and motion sickness and each condition is treated differently. Talk to your vet if you need help discerning the two. It’s always a good idea to start any medication the night before. Then, the actual day of travel, be sure the drug is on board and working one to two hours before getting in the car. Dosing as you walk out the door is way too late!
I recommend feeding lightly the night before a trip and little or nothing the day of. Depending on the length and temperature of the journey, dogs will need water. Cats usually are reluctant to drink until safely at their destination.
Increasingly, there are more pet-friendly hotels. La Quinta and Comfort Suites are known for their animal hospitality. Still, it’s a good idea to bring your pet’s litter box and familiar food.
If flying, check with your airline as there are restrictions to the number of pets on board a flight. There are airplane specific carriers for small pets which will fit under a seat. For years, I traveled with my Maine Coon cat Chessie, who snuggled in a Sherpa bag, a collapsible cloth carrier. I always carried his vaccination history and international health certificate. Animals require health certificates if moving between states or countries. These need to be issued by your vet within ten days of travel.
So that leads me back to my intrepid travelling friend. She just strapped three cat carriers to the roof of her car, started driving and hoped I wouldn’t find out. No seriously, she had one box/cat, appropriately dosed medicine (for the cats and her husband!), pet friendly hotel reservations along the way, plenty of the cats’ regular diet and a sense of humor to speed her along. And now they’re all basking in the warm sunshine far, far away!
Celeste Conn, VMD
Copyright 2023, The Visiting Veterinarian. All rights reserved.
Share your comments:Comment Cancel