For many families, Thanksgiving means traveling to the homes of loved ones, friends, and other relatives for a good meal, long weekend, and more. But what does all this traveling mean for your furry companions?
Whether you’re taking your dog or cat along for the ride, or setting them up with a sitter, here are some important safety tips to make sure they have a good a time as you do.
Do you just jump in the car and hit the road when it’s time to leave? No way. For any road trip, you plan the route, pack the snacks, and make sure you have a stack of classic CDs ready to rock (though your kids may impress upon you the need for a streaming app...whatever that is).
If you do all this preparation for yourself, your kids, and your wife, what about your pet? He or she deserves some consideration too - especially if the trip could impact his or her health.
To prepare Fido for the journey, try taking him for some short drives to get him used to being in the car, so he isn’t anxious during the trip. If you are going out of state, be sure to bring along a copy of his medical records (especially rabies and vaccination information). Dogs should ideally be kept in a crate during travel, and that crate should be securely fastened - and no, piling luggage on top of it does not count as “securely fastening.”
Pack a travel kit for your pet, including some plastic bags (for you know what), grooming supplies, any medication they may take, and some toys. You may want to bring some bottled water from home too - just as water from unfamiliar places can upset your stomach, it can do the same for Rover’s.
Be sure to walk your pet whenever you stop on your journey, and don’t ever leave them alone in the vehicle. A parked car in the heat or cold is uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, and your dog might attack your Best of Bob Seger CD in reprisal.
When Dogs Fly
Sometimes traveling for the holidays means grabbing a plane ticket. For those of you who can’t part with your best friend, be sure to make it easy on them with a few easy tips.
Get a check-up at the vet before departing, to make sure your dog is cleared for flight. Always try to book a direct flight, so there is less confusion during stopovers. Also, there is less of a chance of losing your dog this way. Get a USDA approved crate, and be sure to properly mark it and identify it as belonging to you and your animal.
Mom and Dad Are Gone...Party Time!
Oftentimes it is easier to leave your dog at home when you travel. Whether you leave him at a boarding kennel or have a sitter stay with him, be sure to avoid a Home Alone-style situation with these tips.
For both sitters and kennels, be sure to ask to see their licenses and insurance information. Any reputable business will have credentials that back up their claims. Be sure that you have left ample supplies (food, water, medicine, and - in my case - the Netflix password. Sorsha is an addict). If the dog is being left at home, take some time to properly prepare your home, which means closing off certain areas, removing dangerous objects, and locking the doors. Finally, make sure you instruct the sitter or carer about your dog’s needs.
Thanksgiving is a time for family. No matter where they are, and where you end up going, be sure to think about your pet’s needs before and after you leave.