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North Hills Monthly

Road Tripping with Rover: How to Travel with Your Pet

May 31, 2018 08:21PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

By Sarah Tuthill

Search “travel” on any pet superstore’s website, and thousands of products pop up from collapsible water bowls and calming treats to luxury carriers and portable potties. And the pet industry isn’t the only one embracing the pet travel trend. Hotels, restaurants and airlines are all expanding services to accommodate canine companions and feline friends.

Even with the ever-increasing options available for a summer getaway with pets, it's still basic planning that ensures that a trip runs smoothly. Prepping a pet for a car trip starts long before the bags are packed, the tank is filled and the GPS is set.

According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet. And TripAdvisor found that over half of pet owners plan to hit the road or fly with their furry friends in tow.

While securing the proper paperwork for flights or border crossings takes time, even a simple road trip requires advance planning. “If your pet is on medication, make sure that you have plenty. You’ll also want to check that your pet is on effective flea and tick control, heartworm prevention and is up-to-date on vaccines,” said Leeann Oliver, DVM at Twinbrook Animal Clinic in Valencia.

If a pet has never been on a car ride, Oliver proposes a slow introduction. “Get your pet used to its carrier before the trip by keeping it in the open, and feeding or giving your pet snacks near or in it,” she suggested. “Leave the door open at first and gradually close it for longer periods.

“Good traction on seats and in carriers helps make your pet more comfortable on the drive,” she added, “as do rewards for calm behavior.”

For any type of pet, vets say the safest way to travel is in a crash-tested crate anchored to the car using a seatbelt. “But it can’t just be any crate,” said Toni Shelaske, owner of Healthy Pet Products in McCandless.

Shelaske points out that lack of space can make a larger dog crate impractical and suggests a crash-tested harness as an alternative way to keep pets from roaming around the car. “Loose pets get distracted, anxious, and roam around to get comfortable,” she explained.

Healthy Pet carries the Kurgo line of restraints, which not only keep dogs safe but also decrease driver distraction. “In an accident, a pet might bolt if it isn’t restrained,” she said. “A dog could survive the accident but be so scared it runs off.” 

For that reason—among many others—it’s important that a pet wear a collar and ID tag, and never be permitted to leave the car without a leash, even if it’s just a routine stop to exercise and go to the bathroom. Speaking of pit stops, a bathroom or lunch break might seem quick to a person, but it's too long to leave an animal in a car, especially if heat is a factor. 

“Never, ever leave them in a car unsupervised or without air-conditioning, even for a minute,” Oliver insisted. “Heatstroke can happen within minutes.” 

Just like for kids, packing a favorite toy or pillow goes a long way toward keeping pets happy on the road. Oliver also reminds people to bring plenty of water, and avoid feeding animals in a moving vehicle. “Pets can get carsick like us,” she said. “Not feeding your pet for an hour or so prior to travel works for some, but talk to your veterinarian about prescription medications if needed.” 

If a pet must travel by air, Oliver encourages taking them in the cabin whenever possible. There are many resources, such as the Federal Aviation Administration’s website, that include critical information on security screening and rules for pets in the passenger cabin. 

“Each airline has different regulations regarding pets in the cabin and in cargo, so be sure to check your specific airline and flight,” said Oliver. She also advises researching the state or country of destination well in advance for immunization and parasite control regulations.

Though it’s more common and convenient to travel with your pet than ever, Oliver said that keeping animals at home is always an option. “Leaving them with a trusted petsitter or at a boarding kennel or pet resort is sometimes the safest, happiest place for your pet to spend your vacation,” she said.

Natrona Heights’ Couple Creates Easy-to-Pack Dog Bed

By Kathleen Ganster

A local couple has created a product to make traveling with dogs stress-free.

“We love taking our pups with us on adventures, but it wasn't always easy to pack up all their gear. That's why we designed the Spruce Travel Dog Bed,” explained Elijah Wiegmann.  Co-founder of Spruce with his wife, Leah, the Natrona Heights’ couple finds that the bed is great for home and on the road. 

“Super cozy at home and then you can toss all you stuff in, zip it up, and get out the door. It's also got really smart features like waterproof, washable sheets, big padded pillow bolsters, and stash pockets and d-rings. We designed every detail to be rugged and replaceable, too,” Wiegmann said.

The Travel Dog Bed is available at 3 Rivers Outdoor Company in Regent Square and online at 

www.sprucepup.com.