Dog and Cat Travel Safety Tips

Posted on June 12, 2015 under Dog Articles

A dog with pet insurance sits in a packed car.

By Dr. Fiona Caldwell, veterinarian and writer for Pets Best Insurance, a pet health insurance agency for dogs and cats.

Summer is here, which means it’s vacation time! Each year, more and more pet owners take their dogs or cats on the road, but traveling can be a little trickier with a furry family member. It’s always a good idea to research and invest in pet insurance, well before you take off traveling with your pet. Here are a few things to consider before toting your pet wherever you go, and some tips to help make traveling less stressful for you and your pet.

Dogs in cars

When driving, there are a few different options for safely transporting pets.  Use a dog carrier that is large enough for them to stand and turn around in. Letting your dog roam free in the car without restraint is never a good idea, however some dogs might tolerate a canine seatbelt, which is a harness that attaches to the car’s seatbelt. Another option would be to use a dog car divider or barrier, for safe transportation of larger dogs in the back of a hatchback or SUV.

If traveling by truck, always secure a pet carrier with a harness specifically designed for a truck bed. Simply tying your dog’s leash to the truck is not recommended; the dog may end up jumping or falling out of the truck and while still attached by the collar could result with fatal consequences. Because accidents can happen with even the most cautious of pet owners, it’s always a good idea to have dog insurance as a backup.

Cats in cars

Contrary to popular belief, car travel is possible with cats. Placing your cat in a carrier is highly recommended. Cats can be quite vocal when riding, but will usually quiet down over time. Feline calming pheromones, such as Feliway sprays are very helpful to calm a stressed kitty. Prior to your trip, allowing your cat to acclimate to the carrier is also a good idea. Place your cat’s food, water and toys in inside the carrier and allow them to come and go, until they feel comfortable.

Can pets get car sick?

Pets can get motion sickness just like people. It’s common for puppies to vomit during their first couple car rides. Most dogs will outgrow motion sickness, but you can try withholding a meal right before your trip to help ease nausea. However, be cautious withholding meals in small breed puppies, which need access to food often, in order to prevent low blood sugar. Most anti-nausea medications such as Dramamine and Benadryl are safe to use in dogs, but always talk to your veterinarian before giving any amount to your pets.

Should I sedate my pet?  

Sedatives are only recommended for car travel if the pet is likely to cause harm to themselves, you or your property. The biggest reason for this is that if your pet has a reaction to a sedative while you are on the road, your access to veterinary care could be limited and while driving you may not even notice there’s a problem. If your veterinarian agrees that your pet would benefit from a mild sedative or anti-anxiety medication such as xanax, discuss with your vet testing the medication prior to your trip. By doing a trial run before you go, you’ll be able to see how your pet reacts, what dose works best for them and in case of a negative reaction, veterinary care is available. Many pet health insurance companies like Pets Best Insurance will even help cover a portion of medications such as these.

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