Tips for Safe Holiday Traveling With Your Dog

Ways to avoid problems when flying and driving with pets.

Posted: November 6, 2006, 5 a.m. EST

With the holidays just around the corner, dog owners are making their travel plans. And while some may board their animals or arrange for petsitters, many will take Fido with them: It is estimated that 200,000 people travel with their pets by air each year and millions more travel across America with their pets by car.

“It’s important that people plan well for all their pet’s travel needs,” said Matt “Red” Boswell, CEO of Pet Butler, a pet waste cleanup service. “Traveling during the holidays can be stressful, but good planning can make sure you and your pet can have a relaxing and enjoyable journey.”

To help in the trip planning this holiday season, Boswell offers pet owners the following tips when traveling:

  • When traveling by air, keep pet guidelines in mind. Although the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture have strict guidelines when it comes to traveling with your pet, many airlines’ policies are even more stringent. You can find FAA regulations at www.faa.gov and airline policies either online or by calling your carrier.
  • Visit your veterinarian a month before departure. It’s important to make sure your dog is healthy and travel ready. Many airlines won’t allow an animal to travel without proper records stating that all of its vaccines are up-to-date.
  • Make your dog comfortable. Whether traveling by car or plane, it is important to keep your dog comfortable and anxiety-free. Before traveling, let him adjust to his kennel, and if he isn’t used to car rides, take him on local trips to get him acclimated to the car. Pack favorite toys and treats.
  • Keep your dog occupied. Pets are like children; when they get bored, they begin to act out. Make sure to stop every two hours so your dog can walk around and go to the bathroom. This is also a good time to give him food, water and extra attention.
  • Never leave your dog in the car. It may not be hot outside, but it is still dangerous to leave him in the car for long periods of time. If you must leave your animal in the car briefly, slightly crack the windows for fresh air and keep your car locked. Don’t create an opportunity for a pet thief.
  • When making a pit stop, clean up afterward. Many states have strict pet waste laws requiring owners to pick up after their pets. Take along plenty of pet waste disposal bags, as well as cleansing wipes for yourself.
  • When packing snacks, remember your dog. Take enough food and water along for your pet. Measure out enough portions of food for the duration of the trip and pack them in a container. This way you aren’t carrying the whole bag of food and risking over-feeding.

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