By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
If you’re traveling with your pet, you’ll have the benefit of your furry friend’s companionship, but you’ll also have some extra things to think about while you’re on the road.
Wherever you travel, make yourself aware of local laws and ordinances concerning pets, such as leash laws. If your pet goes to the bathroom in a public place or on someone’s property, have a scooper and disposable bags with you to dispose of it.
But that’s just the beginning of what you’ll need to keep in mind. You’ll want to protect your pet’s safety and health while you travel, while making sure you both have a good time. So, when planning your trip, here are some other things to think about.
Prepare your pet.
Some dogs love to go for rides. They’re off on a new adventure into lands of unfamiliar smells, sounds, and sights. And best of all, they’re going with you, their best friend.
Others dogs, though, get anxious on car rides, to the point of drooling, whining, or even vomiting.
Introduce your dog to the car at an early age. As with other forms of training, offer praise and rewards. Find out where your dog is most relaxed, in the front or back seat, and let her find her comfort zone (as long as it’s not underfoot while you’re trying to drive). At the outset, don’t make your dog stay in the car for long periods, but stop every so often to let her get out and explore. That will show her that the car is his gateway to adventure.
Keep your pet safe.
Seat belts save human lives (nearly 15,000 in 2017 alone, according to recent seat belt statistics). So it only makes sense to be sure your bet is safely secured during a car ride, too.
You can get a dog harness for your seatbelt, or attach a zipline to the harness for freer movement. A back seat barrier can keep your dog from distracting you as you drive. Or you might opt for a crate or carry box. A good carrier will provide enough room for your pet to stand comfortably, and your pet should have access to water.
A crate is the best option if you’re traveling with a cat, because… well, you know the old adage about herding cats. Now try doing that while you’re driving. To say this is not a good idea would be an understatement.
Different states have different laws regarding pet restraint while traveling, so educate yourself before you cross state lines.
Help your pet stay healthy.
Don’t allow your pet to get overheated in the car. Allow enough ventilation to keep the interior cool. And never leave your dog in the car, even if it’s just for a minute or two while you dash into the convenience store.
Cars get hotter than you realize, even if it doesn’t feel hot out. They absorb and magnify heat from the sun, which can put pets at severe risk of heatstroke, dehydration, and death. An open window won’t help, and 31 states have laws that relate to leaving animals in confined vehicles.
Speaking of dehydration, make sure your pet has enough water during your trip. If your pet is on medication, don’t forget to take it when you leave, and if she’s prone to motion sickness, ask your vet about recommendations about how to make her more comfortable and less queasy.
Before you leave, it’s a good idea to give your pet a checkup at the vet and make sure he’s current on his shots.
Plan for lodging and emergencies.
You don’t want to make a reservation somewhere and find out later that they don’t accept pets. Before you leave, check into pet-friendly hotels and weigh policies and costs (they’re not all the same).
When it comes to hotels, it’s a good idea to pay with a credit card rather than a debit card — which the hotel may debit right away to cover deposits and may take a few days to refund. Credit cards are more secure, and they provide an important safety net in case something unexpected goes wrong, such as if you need to visit the vet.
If you don’t have a credit card or enough savings to cover an emergency, you can apply for a Care Credit account that can be used for both routine and emergency veterinary services. Another option is a secured credit card account. In exchange for a small deposit, you get access to a line of credit. As an added bonus, this type of account builds your credit as you use it. Having a pet can mean extra expenses you hadn’t counted on, so having some money in savings as a fallback before you leave is also a good idea.
There are more things to think about when you travel with your pet, but the company can be more than worth it. If you plan well, are diligent about protecting your pet’s well-being, and bring along everything you need, you and your companion can both look forward to an enjoyable road trip.