We like our pets to travel with us, but travel can often be tough on our pets. The journey can be greatly improved by following a few simple steps and making some small changes to your everyday routines.
Using a Travel Carrier
In order to keep your pets safe and secure, it is almost always necessary to have a carrier or crate for your pets. This carrier should:
- Be the Right Size for your Pet- it should be large enough for your pet to stand up, sit, and lie down naturally, and turn around easily.
- Be Safe- the carrier should not allow your pet to stick out their head, paw, or tail which can then get trapped somewhere, nor should it contain anything that could injure your pet. It is essential that you are ale to secure it properly in a car or other vehicle by using clips or straps.
- Provide Ventilation- the carrier may be in “still” air conditions for long periods of time, so it is important that your pet does not get too hot.
- Give Access to Water- especially for long journeys. Many carriers have bowls inside that can be fastened to the carrier and ideally are spill-proof.
- Have Absorbent Bedding- absorbent material such as vet bed as this wicks away keeping your pet dry. It may be necessary to change the bedding for very long journeys.
It is important to familiarize your pet with the travel carrier. This can be done by leaving the carrier out for a few weeks before you travel, to allow your pet to get used to it. Feeding your pet inside the carrier for a few weeks, leaving treats inside it and taking them on a few short journeys can help create positive associations. While travelling, it can be helpful to put familiar smells such as their usual bedding, your jumper, a favorite (safe) toy inside the carrier with your pet to make them feel more secure during the journey.
Pre-Travel Preparations– Dietary supplements such as Nutracalm can help your pet cope with the stress and anxiety from travelling. Giving it to your pet a few days before the travel date is recommended.
Feeding– Feed dogs well before the journey, or wait until afterwards, as they travel better if they do not have their stomachs full. It is important to always carry water in a bottle and a clean bowl for your dog, in case they need a drink.
Travel During Comfortable Temperatures– While travelling in the summer months, it is better to travel during the parts of the day when it is cooler, such as during early mornings or in the evening.
Keep your Pet Under Control– If your pet can be carried using a carrier, always use one. Otherwise, it is necessary to use a lead while using public transport or a securing mechanism if in a car.
Check your Insurance Policy– Check to see if your pet is covered for car journeys in your car.
Travelling via Public Transport
Public transportation may be difficult to travel with your pet. The influx to unfamiliar people and smells can make your pets anxious, and the experience is exacerbated during busy times. The following tips should be followed to make travelling easier for you and your pets on public transport
Alert Transport Personnel when Required– Make sure that the relevant staff members are aware that you are travelling with a live animal and to follow their instructions.
Avoiding Rush Hour– Travelling during rush hour will make it a much more difficult experience due to the number of commuters on the bus or train.
Carrying Waste Bags– Always carry waste bags as it may be necessary to clean up after your pet, so it is imperative that ample waste bags are carried.
Travelling by Car
The privacy of being around familiar people can make travelling in a car easier for your pet than other forms of transportation. However, it is necessary to take some precautions and safety measures to ensure that your pet’s anxiety is minimised.
Introducing Travelling Early– Exposing your new pets to travelling in the car early on will make it easier for pets to adjust to trips. Initially, shorter trips can help your pets get used to travelling in a car and rewarding your pet at every stage will make it a positive experience for them. If your pet experiences travel sickness (motion sickness), please talk to your vet as there is medication that works well.
Securing your Pet– The Highway Code of UK law states to “make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you if you stop quickly” while in a vehicle. For dogs, a dog guard, which is a metal grill between the rear passenger seats and the boot, or a dog crate are practical options. For cats and other smaller pets, a cat carrier should be used. Please ensure that all clasps are secured of the crates and carriers. It is also possible to secure pets using various harnesses or pet seatbelts, but these are not suitable for all pets.
It is illegal to leave your pet uncontrolled and loose in your vehicle. It is easier for them to escape from the car during a stop, if the windows or doors are opened. Loose pets can distract the driver and get in the way of their vision or controls, and in case of an accident, they are more likely to injure or even kill themselves and the passengers in the vehicle.
Ensuring Easy Access to your Pet– In case of an emergency, such as an accident or a breakdown, it is necessary to be able to get your pet out quickly. Make sure that your pet’s lead is also kept in an accessible place.
Breaking up Longer Journeys– Comfort breaks at regular intervals to give your pet a chance to go to the toilet and drink water makes the journey more pleasant for everyone. This may be more difficult when travelling with a cat, but it is likely that they will enjoy drinking while the vehicle is not moving. Placing them in a large crate which has food and a litter tray can make them more comfortable.
We all know that cats and dogs can die in hot cars. It is essential to never leave your pet in the car on warm days, even if it is for a few minutes. They can get anxious and distressed when the temperature reaches 25ºC. The inside of a vehicle can quickly increase to more than double the outside temperature on sunny days, so it can easily result in heatstroke and death.
Travelling by Ferry or Boat
The same rules for travelling in a car apply when travelling on a ferry, alongside some additional points:
Alert Transportation Personnel when Required– Make sure that the relevant staff members are aware that you are travelling with a live animal and to follow their instructions. Many ferry companies do not allow animals (other than registered assistance pets) in the passenger areas of the ferry, and passengers are usually not allowed back to their cars during the journey. This means that you may be unable to check on your pet during the trip. However, depending on the duration of the ferry journey, you may be required or permitted to place your pet in a carrier and take them with you. It is important to contact the ferry company before your trip to find out about their pet travel policies.
Ventilation– It is important to make sure that your pets have sufficient ventilation while on the ferry, and this can be done by leaving your car windows open. However, it is necessary to ensure that your pets cannot escape the vehicle through the open windows, so it is useful to place pets inside a carrier or crate.