It's only natural to want to take your best friend with you everywhere you go, especially if your best friend stands on four legs instead of two. While bringing your pets along while you travel is fun for both you and your pet, there are a few things to consider when taking your furry friend away from the comforts of home. At the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), we get a lot of calls concerning curious pets who have gotten into some potentially dangerous situations while out and about with their families. So to ensure that you and your pets can travel together comfortably, here are a few tips to help keep them safe, happy and healthy while you’re on the road:
Before you leave:
- Be prepared. Pets who are away from home are more likely to have an accident or get into something that they shouldn't. Before you leave home, make sure you program two numbers into your phone: a local veterinary emergency hospital at your destination and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435). Also, make sure to pack a proper pet first aid kit.
- Tag your friends. Make sure your pets have proper identification visible on their collar, and consider getting them microchipped in case they get out of their collars. Pets who get loose are less likely to find their way back to an unfamiliar location, so identification is key to enabling happy reunions.
- Contact your veterinarian. If your pet has a complicated or extensive medical history, you might want to take a copy of his medical records with you in the event that you have to take him to an unknown vet during your travels. Also, if you are traveling between states, you may need an interstate health certificate for your pet before hitting the road. It's never a bad idea for your pet to get a clean bill of health before a big trip as well.
- Do your research. Is there anything at your destination or along your route that you should be aware of? In some areas, there may be poisonous plants or venomous animals that you will want to be careful to avoid. While you're on the road:
- Never leave your pet in a parked car. This goes for warm days as well as the hot ones. Even when it doesn’t seem very hot outside, the temperature in a car can quickly rise to dangerous levels and put your pet at risk of developing heat stroke or worse.
- Travel safely. When you are in the car with your pets, the best way ensure that they don’t have access to anything they shouldn't (such as food and medicine) is to buckle them up. Securing pets with harness-style seatbelts (or in crates/carriers) will also help protect them in the event of an accident and keep the driver less distracted.
- Scout out your hotel room. Always have a quick look around before letting your pet into a hotel room. APCC receives numerous calls about pets finding a pill or two left on the floor by a previous occupant. Also, if you are traveling with a cat or kitten, ensure that there isn't any way for them to crawl up into the bathroom vanity or into the mattress. (We are speaking from experience here as well).
- Pet proof your new space. Take a “pet's eye view” and look for any potential issues. Are indoor plants safely out of reach? Can your pet reach that bottle of medication? Does a child's toy on the floor look just like her dog toys at home?
Ensure that counters are cleaned off, and consider bringing a baby gate and/or a crate with you to help prevent access to any areas that you are unable to make safe for your pets.