Hitting the Road With Your Pets
Hitting the Road With Your Pets
With the massive Covid-19 vaccine rollout moving along, the world is looking forward to opening up again. After a year where many of us opted for staycations rather than going away, thoughts of once again travelling to new locales are like a bright light at the end of the dark Covid tunnel. As you plan your dream vacation, remember to keep your animal companions in mind so that they, too, can enjoy the trip.
After more than a year of being home with you virtually nonstop, it is possible that your animal may feel a little anxiety or sadness at your sudden departure, whether it is for a trip or a return back to work outside the home. If you can’t bring your animal along with you, work to get your animal ready for the new routine ahead of time by leaving her home a little longer each day so she gets used to being away from you. If you have a new sitter to care for your animal, have the sitter come and spend time with your animal several times before you leave. This will help your animal get to know the sitter and learn that you always return after a visit. If you are boarding your animal, take her to the boarding facility’s daycare program a few times. This will help acclimate your animal to a new space or refamiliarize her with a place she may not have been to in a long time.
And when it comes to Covid-19 safety, treat your animal as you would a human family member. Make sure that the sitter or boarding facility follows appropriate cleaning protocols and knows what to do in the event that someone who comes into contact with your animal has Covid-19. At this time, there have been a handful of reports of Covid-19 infections in companion animals but there have not been reports of serious illness or death and it is unclear (though unlikely) whether or not companion animals who have Covid-19 can infect people. Because of this uncertainty, the CDC recommends treating companion animals as you do people: maintain distance, quarantine if infected or in contact with an infected person or animal and sanitize the space your animal occupies. Do not use hand sanitizer, bleach, or other types of cleaners on your animal. Only clean your animal with products made specifically for her.
In the Car
If you are planning a road trip and are taking your animal with you, make sure to follow common sense safety precautions. Restrain your animal in the car with a specially designed harness or a crate. A crash or even just stopping short could injure your dog if she isn’t properly restrained in the back seat of the car, and can also be a safety hazard if she is thrown into the front seat by a jolt. While your dog may seem to love the breeze blowing into her face through an open window as you drive, keep all parts of her in the car while you’re moving to keep debris and dust from blowing into her eyes and causing damage to her sight. Keeping her head out the window while moving could also cause hearing and lung damage or lead to injury if she falls, so don’t let the windows down too far. Be sure to keep plenty of clean water in the car so your animal won’t get dehydrated on a long drive and don’t forget to stop for bathroom breaks and a good stretch every few hours. And, of course, never leave your animal alone in the car, even with the windows open. The inside of a car heats up very quickly and animals don’t have the capacity that we do to handle even moderate heat for extended periods of time.
In the Air
If you must fly with your animal, do your homework ahead of time. Find out which airlines will allow you to bring your animal with you onboard and which will require you to check your animal like baggage. If you are flying an airline that requires you to check your animal, consider getting her to your destination another way. There are airlines that transport only animals where every animal has her own safe and comfortable spot in the cabin and staff members frequently check on the animals to ensure their safety and comfort. Similarly, there are services that will transport your animal by automobile from your home to your destination. Flying can be extremely stressful for an animal, so check with your veterinarian ahead of time to ensure that your animal is healthy enough to travel by air and discuss ways to minimize stress.
Whether at your destination or along your route, be sure to check in advance that the hotel or rental you will stay at allows animals to join you. And, in the age ofCovid-19, be sure that they follow all cleaning and sanitizing protocols to minimize your chances of exposure to the virus.
Plan ahead for fun things to do with your animal at your destination. Do some research to find the local places that are animal friendly so that she is exercised and tired before being left alone in an unfamiliar environment. Look into local resources such as doggie daycares so that your animal can have a little fun while you’re out doing humans-only things. Consider bringing along the animal’s bed, favorite toy, or a blanket with your scent to make the new space more comfortable.
Safety While Away
Unfamiliar environments can be very stressful for animals, and there are many stories of animals slipping out of unfamiliar homes or managing to escape while outside. Be sure that your animal is microchipped and has an ID tag with your mobile phone number so you can be reached when the animal is found by a stranger. Don’t forget the animal’s medications, and even bring along some Benadryl in case of a strange insect bite that might cause an allergic reaction. You will also want to bring enough food for your entire journey in case you can’t find her regular food where you are, as abrupt diet changes can cause gastrointestinal issues for many animals.
It is exciting to think about planning a trip after so many months of staying home. Keep your animal in mind as you arrange your dream vacation and you’ll both have a relaxing and fun time to celebrate the re-opening.