This is a fantastic time of year – holiday parties, family gatherings, and visits with friends cover the calendar. For many people, spending the holidays away from their pets is inconceivable. A bit of planning can help ensure that everyone – including the furry members of the family – has a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some tips to make sure your holiday is a merry one!
A Place to Stay – If you will be rooming with family or friends, make sure they are comfortable having your pet as a guest. Ask them about restricted areas or rules that will need to be followed during your stay. If you’re headed to a hotel, be sure to let them know your pet will be joining you, and verify that you can comply with their pet policy.
In the Car – For her safety and yours, it’s important that your pet is properly secured in a carrier, crate, or seat belt harness while you’re driving. Acclimating your pet to their carrier or harness before your trip will make the ride go smoothly. If your pet has a tendency to get sick in the car, these suggestions may help: Planning a Road Trip with Dogs Who Get Car Sick.
Their Best Behavior – All the new places, scents, and people is what makes traveling exciting for our dogs. Understanding what’s allowed in a new environment, however, can be confusing. Help them impress your hosts by brushing up on their basic obedience skills before you go.
Quality Entertainment – If your pet has a favorite chew or stuffed toy that keeps her entertained at home, but sure to pack it for your trip! There may be times when you’d like your pet to quietly occupy herself, and having something familiar to focus her attention will help.
Whether your staying in a hotel or with friends and family, remember that the incessant squeaking of your pup’s favorite toy can wear on a saint’s very last nerve. Hear Doggy toys may help the unhabituated retain their sanity with squeakers dogs can hear, but humans can’t!
A Quiet Space – The hustle and bustle of holiday activities can be exhausting – for us and our pets! Bring your pet’s bed or crate and provide them a peaceful place to relax away from the ruckus. For pets with anxiety, consider playing music from Through a Dog’s (or Cat’s) Ear to help alleviate stress and keep them calm.
Beware of Spoilage – With all the eating, drinking, and merry-making, pets are often fed things they shouldn’t be during the holidays. Foods like chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, and alcohol are toxic for your dog, and simply eating foods he’s not used to can lead to gastrointestinal distress. When you’re packing, dehydrated pet foods are light and take up little space, are easy to mix up with just hot water, and provide your pet with a warm, human-grade meal he’ll love.
Stay on Schedule – Something as simple as feeding and exercising your pet on their normal schedule can reduce their anxiety. Set an alarm to remind you of your pet’s feeding time, and use their daily walks to enjoy a little one-on-one time.
Just in Case – Pets can slip out the door in a flash, so be sure your pet’s ID tags have a phone number where you can be reached while you’re traveling. A high visibility “Traveling Pet” vest can also alert anyone seeing your lost pooch that she’s not a stray and in need of assistance.
In the event you need to make posters, it’s also helpful to carry a picture of your pet. Finally, having your pet’s veterinary records with you could be critical in the event of an illness or injury. Rather than lugging around a large file, make a paper copy of current vaccination records, and scan the rest of the information for storage on an easy-to-pack USB drive.
Keep Your Cool – Over-excitement, anxiety, and stress are common emotions around the holidays. Remember that your pet will pick up on your feelings – so relax, stay calm, and have fun!
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