It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so they say, and to make it as such, we need to make sure our holiday season goes smoothly. Oftentimes, holiday plans include travel, and holiday travel includes packing our furry friends. At Thanksgiving, 36% of people travel to a destination other than their home, and 95.9% travel by car. At Christmas, 42.5% of people travel, with 93.9% traveling by car. To ensure you’re not stressing out last minute, start out this holiday season with a travel plan that is easy for both you and your pup. Read the tips below to find out what you can do to make this holiday season the easiest one yet!
Make sure your dog is road trip-ready. This sounds silly, right? You’re thinking, “Okay, but he can’t talk to me, so how would I know…” However, most people traveling this holiday season will be doing a decent amount of driving, and, like humans, animals also get easily stressed out. Before you think about taking your dog in the car for an hours-long road trip, try taking him for a short drive. If he seems anxious or stressed out by the car, make plans to leave him home with a trusted sitter. It will not only make things easier for you, but your pup will greatly appreciate it. If you do this, just make sure you leave emergency contact information for you and a vet, as well as detailed instructions on how to care for your furry friend.
Keep contact information on your pet at all times. Pets can get scared easily in a new environment, and, while hopefully your dog won’t run off, if he does, you need to make sure that whoever finds him will be able to find you. No matter your method of travel, make sure your pup is wearing his collar at all times. Always put ID tags on your dog collar – they are worth the investment. Additionally, you should consider microchipping your pet – while all pets should wear a collar with contact information, a microchip is the only form of ID for your pet that is permanent and cannot be lost. Just be sure to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
Safety first – especially in the car. While it is tempting to let your dog roam around in the car, especially if he is generally well-behaved, one of the best things you can do for your dog while traveling is restrain him. According to a study done by Kurgo, over 83% of respondents said they know it would be a safer option to restrain their dog in the car – however, only 16% of respondents actually do. A dog car harness is a simple way to restrain your dog in the car, and some, like Kurgo’s Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Smart Harness and Impact Dog Harness, come crash-tested. If you want to allow your dog to have some movement, you can also buy other types of dog car restraints, such as a seatbelt tether or zip line.
Make your pup comfortable. Make sure you pack the essentials for your dog on a long car trip. Firstly, you will need water and food travel bowls for your dog, and also his typical brand of food. Be sure to bring treats for the ride, too – it would be mean to bring your own and not your pup’s! Secondly, a dog travel bed will keep him comfortable and may make him feel less anxious. Finally, if you are traveling somewhere cold, bring a dog jacket. This will not only keep him comfortable on the ride, but when you reach your destination, as well.
Avoid air travel if you can. The Humane Society of the United States recommends against air travel for pets unless absolutely necessary. Air travel can not only be very stressful for pets, but very dangerous, as well. It can cause oxygen deprivation and heat stroke, or, during the winter months, hypothermia. If you do need to bring your pup on a plane, make sure you double check all rules with the airline, and travel with him in the cabin whenever you can. This will be less anxiety-inducing and your dog will feel a higher level of comfort knowing you are right there. However, generally only small dogs are allowed in airplane cabins, so if your dog does not meet the size requirements, consider leaving him at a kennel or with a sitter.
Watch out for holiday hazards. Once you have arrived at your destination, it may be tempting to be lax with your dog (e.g. letting him run wild, feeding him leftovers). However, there are a few holiday dangers of which you should be cautious. Don’t let your dog run loose if he is unsupervised. This is especially important at Christmastime – an energetic dog could knock into a Christmas tree and break ornaments, or, worse, knock the tree onto himself. To avoid this, make sure the Christmas tree is completely secured before letting your pup anywhere near it. Another danger of Christmas trees is tinsel. Animals are attracted to shiny objects, but tinsel, if ingested, can lead to vomiting and dehydration. The same goes for poinsettias – these plants are poisonous to animals. In regards to feeding your dog at the holidays, some human foods are best left off their plates. Sweets are a big no, especially chocolate. Also, fatty and spicy foods should be avoided if you want to avoid indigestion and a potential trip to the vet. Read our article on What Thanksgiving Leftovers You Can Share with Your Dog for more tips!
Whatever you do, if you are traveling this holiday season, the best thing you can do is make sure your dog is safe. Do the right thing for him, whether that means leaving him home or taking him with you. And, if you do decide to bring him along, read up on how you and your dog can be everyone’s favorite duo with our article on Tips for Being a Considerate Houseguest!