Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the busy Holiday travel season. Time to start planning your Holiday getaway - whether it be to the in-laws, Grandma's, or somewhere in between! Before you hit the road, it's important to plan ahead for pet travel and always keep the best interests of your furry sidekick in mind. Traveling with your pet can be a wonderful and bonding experience or a not so pleasant one. It's all a matter of proper planning and preparation.
Top tips to ensure your Thanksgiving getaway with your pet is a safe one:
1. No Heads Out the Window
Although many pets find that sticking their head out the window is the best part of the road trip, it's not safe. Your pet can easily be injured by flying debris. This should go without saying, but NEVER travel with a pet in the back of a pickup truck. Some states have laws restricting such transport and it is always dangerous.
2. Frequent Pit Stops
Always provide frequent bathroom and exercise breaks. Most travel service areas have designated areas for walking your pet. Be sure to stay in this area particularly when your pet needs a potty break, and of course, bring along a bag to pick up after your pet. When outside your vehicle, make sure that your pet is always on a leash and wearing a collar with a permanent and temporary travel identification tag.
3. Proper Hydration
During your pit stops be sure to provide your pet with some fresh water to wet their whistle. Occasionally traveling can upset your pet's stomach. Take along ice cubes, which are easier on your pet than large amounts of water.
4. Watch the Food Intake
It is recommended that you keep feeding to a minimum during travel. Be sure to feed them their regular pet food and resist the temptation to give them some of your fast food burger or fries (that never has a good ending!).
5. Don't Leave Them Alone
Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle. On warm days, the temperature in your vehicle can rise to 120 degrees in minutes, even with the windows slightly open. In addition, an animal left alone in a vehicle is an open invitation to pet thieves.
6. Practice Restraint
Be sure that your pet is safely secured in your vehicle. Utilizing a pet safety harness, travel kennel, vehicle pet barrier, or pet car seat are the best ways to keep your pet safe. They not only protect your pet from injury, but they help by keeping them from distracting you as you drive.
A safety harness functions like a seatbelt. While most pets will not have a problem adjusting to it, you may want to let them wear the harness by itself a few times before using it in the vehicle.
If your pet prefers a travel kennel, be sure it is well ventilated and stabilized. Many pet parents prefer vehicle barriers, particularly for larger pets. Vehicle pet barriers are best suited for SUVs.
Smaller pets are best suited for pet car seats. The car seat is secured in the back seat using a seat belt and your pet is secured in the car seat with a safety harness. In addition to its safety features, a pet car seat will prop up your smaller pet, allowing them to better look out the window.
No matter what method you choose, back seat travel is always safer for your pet.
7. Safe and Comfortable
Whatever method you choose to properly restrain your pet in your vehicle, be sure to make their comfort a priority. Just as it's important for your "seat" to be comfortable for your long road trip, your pet's seat should be comfortable too. Typically their favorite blanket or travel bed will do the trick. There are also some safe and very cozy pet car seats available that your pet may find quite comfy.
Careful preparation is the key to ensuring that you and your pet have a happy and safe Thanksgiving getaway!