When traveling with your pet, it can be a grand adventure or a total nightmare. The key is preparation, especially when you’re traveling with new pets. A positive, peaceful attitude also goes a long way. With the right gear and outlook, pet travel can be a wonderful bonding experience with your fur baby. Here are a few things to help make the journey smoother...
Tips for travelling with pets
Before the travels begins
Make sure you burn off some of your pet’s energy before your travels begin. If you have a dog, make sure they are well exercised. We suggest taking your dog on a long walk, engaging in a vigorous game of fetch, or practicing some training exercises. Try the Chuckit! Rope Fetch Toy for two-in-one play of fetch and tug.
If you have a kitty, try to catch them at their most active time, usually around dusk. This is prime hunting time so try playing “chase the light” with a laser pointer or “hunting” with a wand toy. Many cats will happily chase a small ball around, as long as they are moving about before their day of travel. Try the JW Cataction Bouncing Featherlite Catnip Boa Cat Toy that combines the best of both worlds.
The point is to engage your pet physically and mentally so you have a calmer pet. When your pet is calmer before leaving, there should be less stress during your travels.
While there are sedation options, many pet behaviorists and vets won’t recommend them as first line defense for travel anxiety. The best medicine for travel nerves is a strong and confident leader (you!). If you seem stressed and nervous about pet travel, your pet will mimic your emotions.
This is very true with dogs, who thrive when their owners adopt the role of pack leader. It’s important to give a sense of self-confidence and calm to your pet through your body language and tone. Dogs are very responsive to your eyes, so make continuous eye contact while speaking in a controlled, quiet tone. As a true pack leader, you will need to limit your frustration or anxiety in emotional situations.
While cats do not have the same pack mentality as dogs, they can also be sensitive to emotions, so it’s equally important to keep your emotions in check around feline friends. For example, when you place your new pet in a carrier, don’t say, “Poor baby! I’m so sorry you have to be stuck in this scary space!” in a trembling voice. Instead, use self-assured body language and an even tone to tell your pet that they’re going into a comfy carrier, then gently but firmly place them inside.
Pet carriers are the safest way to travel with your pet. If you are flying, a pet carrier is not only required—it also helps your new pet feel secure by giving them a private, quiet space. It is best to get your pet used to their pet carrier by leaving it out around the house for several weeks. If you train them to use the carrier while they are young, it can make it less stressful when they’re older (see ‘How to crate train your puppy’ for guidance).
Try leaving a treat inside each day to help your pet build positive associations with the carrier. When it is time to travel, add in a blanket or toy that smells of home to help ease any pet anxiety. Each airline has specific requirements and costs for traveling with pets, so reach out to them before booking your tickets. In New Zealand, animals must travel in the cargo area of the plane with checked baggage and need a hard-sided carrier like the Petmode Airline Carrier or Pet One Airline-Approved PP30.
If you are driving, your pet can be a major distraction if not securely restrained inside the car, or can fall or be thrown around if you hit the brakes. A pet carrier is also very useful to keep your pets secure and safe while driving, especially with cats.
If you are not using a carrier for your dog while travelling by car, consider using an EzyDog seat belt attachment and a suitable harness. You can also use the EzyDog seat belt attachment to secure your cat's carrier. The seatbelt attachment can provide your dog some movement in the backseat whilst preventing them from jumping into the front while you are driving. The EzyDog Drive Harness also provides a way to keep your dog safe in your car by attaching to most seatbelts. You can also use Adaptil Transport Spray for dogs or Feliway Spray in your vehicle or the carrier to help soothe and calm your pets.
Prep for accidents
Some pets will happily relax in their carrier during travels, while others hurl up kibble the moment you make a right turn out of the neighborhood! You also won’t know if your new pet is going to get carsick easily, so play it safe by feeding your pet well before the trip and letting them go potty before you head out.
It pays to pack a bag that contains not only the everyday essentials, but also supplies to clean up any messes. Take enough food (and some treats)to last for your journey and then some, just in case you get delayed, as well as something for them to drink water from like the ThirstyDog Smart Water Bottle. Pack non-breakable bowls like the Beco Travel Bowl, plenty of poop bags, a roll of paper towels or pet wipes and some hand sanitizer for hooman use.
You can also use the EzyDog Car Seat Hammock Cover to protect your car seats and make cleaning up accidents easier.
Get an ID tag
Whether it's new pets, or one you’ve had for years, make sure they are wearing ID tags prior to travel. Make sure the tag includes your cell phone number and address.
We also strongly recommend that you get your pet microchipped and register your details on the NZCAR database. A microchip is a tag about the size of a grain of rice that is inserted into the pet’s scruff in a relatively painless procedure. Animal shelters and veterinarians scan all incoming misplaced pets for microchips so, even if your pet slips their collar, a microchip can help reunite you.
So if you’re planning your next holiday travels and want to include your pet, we hope this has helped you get prepped for a stress-free experience. If you have any questions or want pet travel advice, feel free to call our friendly Pet Direct Customer Care team on 0800 200 240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.