Safety should always be your first concern when travelling with your pet. Whether you use a crate, carrier, divider, or seatbelt, all pets should be safely and comfortably restrained in a moving vehicle. Create safe travel habits right from the beginning, so your pet knows how to travel well and feels comfortable with the routine. Owners often make the mistake of travelling with their new puppy in a spot that will not be safe or even possible for them travel in when they are fully grown.
DO‘s for travelling with your pet:
- Decide where your pet’s travelling spot will be when they are fully grown and start them there now!
- Use a properly fitted pet seatbelt, carrier, or vehicle divider to keep them contained to one area of the vehicle so you are not distracted while driving.
- If your puppy is too small for the area you want them to travel in as an adult, put them in a carrier in that area and as they grow you can remove the door and top of the carrier so it is more of a bed as they get too large to stay in the carrier, and then eventually you may remove the carrier entirely depending on the size of the dog and the area.
- Make sure that the carrier is on a flat surface in the car when you travel instead of leaning to one side or the other. Your pet will appreciate the extra thought!
Create a calm atmosphere when you travel. Your pet is very aware of your emotions, so (when possible) stay calm in the car. Sometimes our “soothing voice” can actually increase our pet’s anxiety when we are traveling with them, so try to maintain normal conversation, or play quiet music.
If you have ensured your pet is safe, try to ignore any unwanted behaviours like barking and whining, as acknowledging them (even with yelling) can actually make those behaviours more intense. And, just like humans with motion sickness, being able to see their surroundings can sometimes really help keep canine and feline tummies happier, too!
Make travel a familiar and comfortable event. Think about where you take your pet. Are any of those places fun or enjoyable for your pet? Instead of one annual trip to the vet with your pet, consider driving a few blocks away with your dog and enjoying a long walk on some new streets with new smells and sights to enjoy. Or take your cat for a short relaxed drive around the block in their new wonderful carrier that they love to snooze in…and offer a treat for the ride. Even these short trips taken occasionally can make a world of difference for your pet!
Create pleasant memories of vet trips, too. Talk to our Waterloo vet at Carriage Crossing about using positive reinforcement during your visits to help make your time there more enjoyable for everyone! Some clinics offer specialized appointment times to help decrease stress, such as cat only times. Most vets can also get you the resources you need to work on a specific plan of action for your pet, such as desensitizing them to their carrier or the vehicle.
Don’ts for travelling with your pet:
- For your pet’s safety and comfort, do not travel with your pet in the trunk of a vehicle or the back of an open truck.
- Don’t punish your pet for being anxious in the car, this will only escalate the problem and sometimes your pet is experiencing motion sickness just like humans. Talk to your vet about the wide range of products and prescriptions available to help your pet with this issue.
- Never leave your pet unattended in the vehicle. If they don’t need to travel with you, it is often safer and kinder to leave them at home, especially during extremely hot or cold weather.
- Avoid feeding your pet a meal right before you travel and ensure that they have relieved themselves, to avoid accidents and anxiety.
- Never place your pet’s crate on a tilted or unstable surface. Try to level the crate with towels, and use a tether or seatbelt to secure the crate.
A few simple precautions and thoughtful habits can make travelling with your pet safer, more comfortable, and less stressful for the whole family. Bon Voyage!