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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and for many of us, that means traveling to a friend or family member’s to enjoy the holiday festivities. While some people opt to board their pets when they travel or hire a pet sitter, many people prefer to bring their animals with them so that they can be apart of their holiday celebration too. Whether you’re driving or flying to your destination, there are few tips you can keep in mind to make traveling with your pets safer, easier and a little less stressful.

Traveling with Dogs

  • By Car

If you’re planning to bring your dog on a road trip to your destination, it’s not as simple as just letting them hop in the front seat. Remember, this is going to be a longer trip than their probably used to and there’s some planning that needs to take place on your part. Some dogs can become anxious on long car rides, even if they normally love the experience when you’re driving around town. There are some all natural relaxation supplements that can be purchased online or at pet supply stores, and these can help to keep your dog calm during the long ride. If you don’t like the idea of giving them something to calm them down, you can also try the ThunderShirt. The ThunderShirt is a vest for your dog that provides gentle pressure, almost like a hug, and creates a calming effect that works on many dogs.

Also keep in mind that dogs under 15 pounds do need to be placed in a crate or travel carrier when on the road. Make sure the crate is in an area of the car where there is plenty of airflow and out of direct sunlight. Many people just put the crate in the back seat of the car, not realizing how hot and uncomfortable that may be for their pup. If you’ve got a larger dog, they need to be secured with a seat belt or harness. There is a variety of these available for purchase, but be sure to look for one that is crash tested to ensure maximum safety.

  • By Plane

If you’re opting to fly to your destination with your dog, there are some things you need to keep in mind. Be aware of the fact that during this time airports are going to be incredibly crowded and busy and this can be overwhelming for your dog, especially if they’ve never been in that type of environment before. Try to prepare them by taking them to an unfamiliar area with a lot of people, and seeing how they react. This will give you the opportunity to gauge how well your dog will listen to your commands and how easy their behavior will be to manage when it time to travel.

When choosing an airline, look for one that’s pet-friendly. Many pet-friendly airlines will all your dog to fly in the cabin with you, usually under your seat in their carrier if they are small enough. If you have a larger dog many airlines require that they fly in cargo, which many owners don’t really like the thought of, but unfortunately for safety reasons this is something that you’ll have to get used to when bringing large dogs on a flight. Weight limits, fees and procedures for each airline are different so be sure to speak with them well in advance of your trip to get all the necessary information.

Traveling with Cats

  • By Car

All cats have different reactions when it comes to car rides. I’ve had cats that loved being in the car as much as a dog, and were totally enthralled with looking out of windows and taking in the sights. I’ve also had a cat that absolutely hated it, and would freak out every time he was put in the car. Ears back, huge eyes, wailing, the whole nine yards. So the first thing you should do is see how they’re going to react on a car ride, and then take the steps from there to ensure their comfort and safety.

For safety reasons, cat and kittens alike must be kept in a travel carrier that’s secured. Cats are quick and a heck of a lot smaller than dogs, and can easily hop onto the dashboard or in the back windshield and obstruct your vision. Additionally, should there be any kind of accident, keeping them in the secured carrier can help to keep them from being injured.

Before starting the journey, let your kitty roam free in the car and rub all over everything. They’ll place their scent and ultimately feel more comfortable in the space.¬†It also helps to place their favorite blanket or bed inside the car so that their scent is already in the vehicle. It’s also recommended to do a few trial runs in the car before making the big trip. This gets them used to the feeling of being in a moving vehicle and will also help them get used to the crate. You don’t have to go far, just a couple trips around the block a few times a week will help your kitty to acclimate.

  • By Plane

When traveling with your cat by plane, it’s imperative that you find an airline that allows you to keep your kitty under your seat in their carrier. Cat carries tend to be made of softer material, and since cats are much smaller than dogs that typically travel in cargo there is a greater risk of them being injured by heavy luggage down below. Make sure you book your flight as early as possible and speak with your airline in regards to their pet policy to make sure that your cat will be safe.

When going through security, you’ll need to keep in mind that you’re going to be removing your cat from their carrier and walking with them through the metal detector. Get your cat a soft harness and leash so that you have control if they get scared and try to run away. Remember, your cat has never been in an environment like this before and it’s going to be sensory overload.

It’s also important, for both cats and dogs, to bring them to the vet before their trip. You want to make sure that they are up to date on all shots and vaccinations and that you have updated copies of official vet records and health certificates for the flight, as many airlines will require these before allowing you to board with your pet.

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