Pets are great to have in your home, but they present a few challenges when you move. Just as when you move with kids, taking a long trip with your dog requires following some steps that ensure their safety and good health. Here, we focus on issues to keep in mind while traveling for a long distance by car.
These ideas can make the trip for you and your four-legged family member that much safer and convenient – not to mention, much less stressful for your dog!
Use a Crate
If you must fly with your dog, airlines require a crate. They can work well in cars, as well. The American Kennel Club recommends the following considerations when choosing a crate for your pet. You can find most crates at your local pet supply store.
- Make sure the crate is large enough to allow the dog to stand, turn and lie down.
- The crate should be built solidly, with handles and grips and free of interior protrusions.
- The bottom should be leak-proof and have absorbent material.
- Crates need ventilation on opposing sides and exterior rims and knobs to prevent blocked airflow.
- All crates should have a “Live Animal” label, arrows indicating the crate’s upright position, and the following information: owner’s name, address and phone number.
- You don’t need much in the crate. Line the floor with a comfortable mat or bedding material your dog already knows and loves. Also include your dog’s favorite toy and a water bottle.
You want to ensure that you have proper identification for your dog, just in case the worst happens and you are separated during a trip. Identification can go on the collar, with the dog’s name, your name, your phone number and proof of rabies shots. You also can use a microchip for permanent identification.
Some dogs love a trip in the car. Others aren’t so thrilled. You can help your dog get ready for the big trip by taking them out for car drives in their crate. You can start by simply sitting in the driveway with your pet in the crate. You can then take short trips around the block and gradually lengthen the time of the trip to get them used to being in the car for long periods of time. This also helps you find the most secure place for the crate.
WebMD recommends never feeding a dog in the car. Always make time to feed your pet at a stop. Also, the travel meal schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours before you leave, giving your pet plenty of time to digest their food. It’s better for them to travel on an empty stomach than an upset stomach.
Never Leave Your Dog Alone
Dogs should never sit alone in a parked car. Not even for “just a few minutes.” In the heat, a car turns into a furnace in just a matter of minutes – even with the windows open. In extremely cold weather, a car quickly becomes dangerously cold. The bottom line is that in any weather, you always want someone in the car with your pet.
Things You’ve Seen But Shouldn’t Do
We’ve all seen videos of dogs with their heads out a car window, tongues flapping in the wind. It looks like fun. It probably is fun! But the American Kennel Club (and many others) warn that this is a way for dogs to get bad eye injuries. Also, the same goes with putting a dog in an open pickup truck. It’s an extremely unsafe situation, with dogs thrown around during curves and when the truck brakes, and even tossed from the truck bed.
It’s not all about you and your schedule when you travel with a dog. Your pet needs breaks so she can get out and walk around (on a strong leash, of course) and get a chance to poop, urinate and get out a little energy. Thankfully, many places, even fast food and larger convenience stops, have areas to walk pets.
Keep these ideas in mind as you hit the road with your pet. It will keep them safe, happy and make them easier to travel with as you journey to your new home.
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