Guest blog written by Alana Stevenson
Long-distance, and even local, moves can mean longer car rides than usual for your pets. With a little planning, you and your pets will be road-ready, making that first introduction to their new surroundings a positive and smooth experience.
• Consider getting pet tracking collars, especially if you are taking a longer road trip which involves overnight stays. For larger pets, consider GPS collars such as The Pet Tracker, and for smaller animals, like cats or small dogs, collars such as the Cat Locator (www.TheCatLocator.com) are a good choice.
• Ensure your pets’ collars have tags and that all contact information is up-to-date.
• Examine your car space for the trip. The more room you have in the car for yourself and your animals, the less stress you will experience. The more space your animals have, the more comfortable they will generally feel. If you’re able, invest in a rooftop cargo box for your car. You can pack as much as you can in the cargo box and leave the necessary essentials inside the car, freeing up space.
• If your animals are traveling in the wagon area, the flooring is not cushioned or padded, so they will feel every bump, vibration, and pothole. Buy foam padding (often available at large craft stores) to line the surface area. You can then cover the foam padding with a large sheet or blanket, making the car ride much more comfortable.
• For cats, large, soft dog crates can be great for travel. They are also foldable. You can use smaller soft crates for transporting your pets to the hotel room and larger soft crates in the car or SUV where animals can nestle for longer trips. Many dogs and cats prefer soft crates over hard wire crates or plastic cabin crates. (Many standard cat carriers are too small for most cats).
• Afraid of pet accidents in the carrier or crate? Line the bottom of carriers and crates with unscented potty pads or urinary incontinence pads made for adults. These are large, square or rectangular in shape and include a plastic lining on one side and absorbent cotton material on the other.
• Think of potty options for your pets. Cats may need to get out of the carrier to use litter boxes, especially for longer journeys. If this is the case, keep the doors of the car closed at all times when your cats are out of the carrier. Always put your cats back into carriers before opening car doors.
• Another option for cats is to place them in large crates with a litter box on one side and cat bed or comfy dome style bed on the other. It’s not a fun way to travel, but it does give your cats an option to use the litter box.
• Keep your dog on a leash when getting out of the car. The motion of the car may cause car sickness, and animals may also have to potty more frequently.
• Keep food and perishables, including any pet medications, in the car. Have a cooler so wet and canned food or any pet medications do not overheat.
• Bring cleaning products – paper towels, enzyme cleaner, small trash bags, pet wipes or unscented baby wipes, and extra towels or baby blankets to clean up any accidents or messes during the trip.
• Driving solo and need to make a pit stop? Park directly in front of the building and turn on your hazards. Ultimately it’s best to not leave your animals alone in the car whenever possible.
• If you are driving with a partner, take fuel, restroom and meal breaks in tandem so one person is always assigned to remain with the animals. If you must leave the animals, park the car so you are able to keep it in view at all times. When I travel with animals, I simply eat in the car.
• Get AAA. AAA has an online map that designates locations of hotels, as well as hotels and lodging that are pet-friendly. Call ahead to reserve hotel rooms and check on pet policies. LaQuinta Inns are all pet friendly.
• For cats, you might want to spray Feliway in the car before travel. Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that may have a slight calming effect for some cats.
• For dogs, have good bones, clean chewies or snacks so they can stay busy for parts of the car ride. Cats and other animals can also be given their favorite snacks and treats to make their car ride more pleasurable.
Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2013
Alana Stevenson is an Animal Behavior Specialist, Trainer and Animal Massage Therapist. She is the author of The Right Way the First Time and Training Your Dog the Humane Way, and the Feline Behaviorist for Life with Cats. She has been professionally resolving dog and cat behavioral problems for over ten years. She can be contacted through her website AlanaStevenson.com.
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