Millions of people will hit the road this holiday season to spend time with friends and family, and for many of us, spending the holidays away from our pets is inconceivable. Planning ahead and taking some precautions 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 trip is a merry one!
Health and safety first. Before departing, have your pet checked by the vet to ensure he/she is fit to travel. Consider scanning your pet’s medical records to a CD or thumb drive so you have a portable history. Also, your pet should wear a suitable collar with identification attached. A microchip is a good idea if your pet is prone to running away.
Strongly consider traveling by car. The airlines are plagued with huge crowds and massive amounts of baggage during this time of the year. Delays and cancellations are the norm and could cause increased stress for your pet. While driving in the car, keep your pet crated or buckled up and no heads poking out the windows!
Make certain your pet is welcome at your destination. Friends and relatives may not be comfortable with having your pet as a guest. Confirm in advance that your host will welcome your pets and discuss any restricted areas or rules that will need to be followed during your stay.
Brush up on obedience. Our pets are introduced to new places, scents and people when we travel. Understanding what’s allowed in a new environment can be confusing for them, but a little training before you leave will allow them to showcase their manners. Simple commands like “Stay,” “Down,” and “Drop It” can keep a dog from bolting out an open door, greeting guests inappropriately, or ingesting something harmful.
Give them a comfortable retreat. Many pets can become overwhelmed with holiday gatherings and would prefer a quiet spot away from the activity. Having their bed or crate and their favorite toy creates a welcome refuge where they can relax.
Keep your pet’s normal schedule. As simple as it may seem, 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 don’t skip their daily walks to drain excess energy!
Avoid digestive disaster. It’s very tempting to spoil your pet during the holidays with foods and treats however it’s very important to stick to your pet’s normal diet while you’re traveling. Many foods like onions, raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate and alcohol served at the holidays are toxic to your pet. Poultry bones splinter and can cause serious health issues. Just eating foods your pet is not used to can lead to gastrointestinal distress. Let other guests know that your pet is well-fed and anyone offering treats may be cleaning up after him later!
The tree is off limits. Pets can be injured if they take tinsel or ornaments off the tree, and the water in the tree stand can have preservatives or bacteria that could harm your pet. Pets should not be allowed around the tree, and gates should be used if the tree is just too tempting.
Monitor your emotions. 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!