Planning a road trip? Traveling with a pet involves more than just loading the animal in the back seat and motoring off-especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for a long time. The ASPCA offers the following tips to help you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip.
- Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. And P.S., it’s smart to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip.
- Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening the time spent in the car. And please be sure to always secure the crate so it won’t slide or shift in the event of a quick stop.
- Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don’t feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle-even if it is a long drive.
- Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
- What is your pet’s traveling kit? In addition to travel papers, food-bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity.
- Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat (never choke!) collars, please.
- Don't allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window. He could be injured by flying objects. And please keep him in the back seat in his crate or with a harness attached to a seat buckle.
- Traveling across state lines? Bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination record, as some states require this proof at certain interstate crossings. While this generally isn’t a problem, it’s always smart to be on the safe side.
- When it comes to H2O, we say BYO. Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs. Drinking water from an area he’s not used to could result in tummy upset for your pet.
- If you travel frequently with your pet, you may want to invest in rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat protectors, available at auto product retailers.
Extra tips on keeping kitty safe while driving
Most cats regard even slow-moving vehicles in much the same way that claustrophobics view closets. Even the horn scares them. A lot of this can probably be attributed to the fact that the only time most cats see the inside of a car is when their next sight will be the veterinarian’s office. Cars mean that something unpleasant is getting even closer. Some cats were introduced to car rides for pure fun in their kittenhood and seem to actually enjoy them. This does not alter the fact that cats and cars are generally a bad mix.
For example, if a vehicle backfires, a gun-shy dog may cower, but a cat may flee (in some strange territory, chances of recovery are slim). George, one of the most dearly loved cats ever to grace a household, was lost in this way.
Cars also have windows and seats. Although it may be impossible for a wolfhound or even a corgi to clamber out through a tiny crack in the window that lets the driver pay a gas station attendant or a toll, most cats can squeeze their way out of a toothpaste tube. As for seats, we have never heard of a dog getting caught in the springs under a seat or having to be cut out of the metalwork over the wheelbase, but both things frequently happen to cats. Extricating them wastes a chunk of a person’s life and sometimes a chunk out of the car. The cat may emerge physically intact but can suffer emotional scars that may never heal.
If you are going to travel by car with your cat, here’s how to do it right:
1. Always use a sturdy carrier. Double-check that the carrier door is absolutely secure. Never let your cat loose in the car. Countless cats have been lost at tollbooths and rest stops this way.
2. Keep the carrier from wobbling by creating as flat an area as possible for it to sit on (pack a towel around the outside if you need to). Do not let kitty see that you are headed for the car—drape a breathable cloth over the carrier before heading out the door, place the carrier on the flat space in the car, then rearrange the cloth so that your cat can see you, if possible, but not out any window. The sight of the earth or sky speeding past causes most cats to panic, begin open-mouthed breathing and howl miserably.
3. Pad the inside of the carrier with something comfy, such as a towel, to make travel easier and less bumpy.
4. Play the radio softly to drown out traffic noises (try a soothing classical music station).
5. Talk to your cat as you go. If he or she complains, always answer reassuringly.
6. Make the ride as smooth as possible. Avoid lurching forward, brake smoothly, and imagine that you are delivering crystal glassware that will shatter if you do not look ahead and steer clear of bumps and potholes in the road.
7. When you arrive at your destination, let kitty scope out the new indoor setting from the sanctity of the carrier; then offer food, water, and litter outside it. In strange surroundings, ensure that all doors and windows are shut as tight as can be before the kitty emerges from the carrier.
You may get more ideas on gadgets and equipment on traveling by car with your pet, at tripatricks.com, at 40% discount until Cyber Monday the 27th of November.
(source: peta.org, bringfrido.com)