Our pets are part of the family, so it’s hard to leave them at home. And if you don’t have a network of family or friends to look after your pet when you head out of town, they may have to come along, particularly if you’re going on an extended journey. And if you’re crossing the border, do your homework to make sure you have all the paperwork in order. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Travelling by car
Two words: Heads inside! Long gone are the days when we used to throw the dog in the back of the pickup! Never let animals roam free inside the car. Always use a crate — secured with a seatbelt, if possible — and always in the back seat, never in the front, where their irresistible faces can be a distraction for the driver. Make lots of pet pit stops, particularly if you have an older animal. And we’ve all heard the horror stories about drivers who leave animals alone in the car. If it works, bring a friend, so you can take turns looking after your pet at rest stops.
Travelling by plane
Book a direct flight. Airlines have different regulations with regard to pets, so do your due diligence and check carrier sizes and immunization requirements well in advance. No anti – anxiety medicine is allowed unless prescribed by a vet. Keep in mind that pets have to go through security, too. Three more words: No full stomachs! Choose the cabin over the cargo hold if your pet is small enough. The hold is often loud, cold, rough or all three. Make sure that the carrier is labelled, that your pet has proper identification and that its collar won’t get caught in the cage en route.
Travelling by train
Via Rail has specific guidelines with regard to transport cages, pet age and weight, and pet safety. Check viarail.ca for details.
Planning a hotel stay
Hotels are increasingly pet – friendly, often going out of their way to welcome you and your pet with treats and special amenities, but plan ahead to make sure the hotel policies are right for your particular pet situation (you might have to leave the snake at home). Wherever you end up and however you get there, try to be a good guest, particularly on your guard if your pet is hairy, smelly, noisy or needy — or incontinent — and even more so if there are other animals present in the home or hotel.