Your Complete Guide to Traveling With Pets — Part Two: What’s the Most Pet-friendly Way to Travel?
In our previous blog, we explored what you need to consider and prep for before travelling with your furry friend. This time, we’ll look closely at the pros and cons of traveling by air, road and more.
So prepare for take-off! Here’s what you need to know about travelling with pets.
How Can You Safely Travel by Air With a Pet?
Is Air Travel Dangerous for Pets?
For people, air travel is a lot less risky than traveling by land, but for a pet, this isn’t necessarily the case.
For starters, any brachycephalic pet (i.e. squished-nosed pets like pugs, bulldogs or Persian cats), should never travel by air. High in the sky, there’s far less oxygen making it extremely difficult for those breeds to breathe, possibly leading to suffocation.
Flights can also be dangerous for animals during periods of extreme heat or cold. Aim to travel in the spring or fall when the weather is more moderate. Also, avoid flying in periods of heavy air traffic. Not only can this stress your pet, but can increase the risk of them getting lost like luggage.
It’s also important to never sedate your pet before traveling by air.
Unless directed by a veterinarian informed about the specifics of your trip, sedation should absolutely be avoided as it can lead to serious injury.
What Should You Know Before You Book a Seat?
Not all airlines have the same history of care for your fluffy family. Make sure to research not only an airline’s pet-care policy, but also their history following their policy.
The internet is full of pet travel horror stories. Take United Airlines who recently suspended their pet-care program after an incredibly devastating streak of deaths.
If you find an airline with a reputable history, find out what options they have to bring fido in the cabin as opposed to cargo. Different airlines have different policies, but most involve placing the animal in an approved carrier underneath your seat. This means it’ll only be an option for small dogs and cats.
Try to book a seat away from the aisle to avoid stressful distractions. Since take-off and landing are the most stressful parts for a pet, book a direct flight.
What Can You Do to Reduce the Risks of a Pet Traveling by Cargo?
For a pet, cargo is especially stressful. That’s why it’s important for their carrier to have toys, a familiar bed and something with your scent, e.g. a used shirt, or bedding.
You’ll then want to attach a minimum of 2 forms of ID to their collar (making sure they won’t get caught in the carrier), and secure the door with zip ties to avoid escape.
You’ll also want to clearly label the carrier with:
- A posting to signify “live animal”
- A recent photo of them
- Contact information
- Destination information
Anything that notifies the crew they’re a living thing also reduces the chances of them getting lost, and helps people to find them in the unfortunate case they do.
Finally, Be Their Advocate!
When you board, make sure you notify both the captain and flight attendants that your pet is on board—both can take actions to ensure the flight is safer on them. And if you notice anyone causing harm to your pet, don’t be shy, call them out!
Your pet can’t speak, so you’re their only advocate. If you don’t agree with something that happens to them, absolutely make a fuss about it!
How Can Your Pet Travel Safely by Car?
Other than the obvious advice to be alert, and drive safely, there are plenty of actions you can take to ensure your pet is safe when traveling by road.
What Should You Consider When Planning a Pet-Friendly Route?
The first thing to plan is the route itself. As tempting as it may be to keep the trip as short as possible by taking the highway, your pet might feel otherwise. All that loud traffic speeding by might scare them. The shortest route to you could feel like an eternity to them.
Consider this an excellent opportunity to take the back-roads and see what your country has to offer. Look for a route with plenty of stops to stretch your buddy’s legs while giving them fresh air to sniff. Also note where nearby veterinarians are, just in case.
Also, think about traveling with a friend—that being a friend of the human variety. By splitting-up driving duties, one of you can always be in the back seat to comfort your other friend—of the fur variety. This also means you won’t have to worry about leaving them alone—more on that later.
How Can You Keep a Pet Physically Safe in a Car?
Think about your fur-child as just that… a fur-child! That means making sure they have correctly-sized restraints, and are seated in the back. Restraints vary by animal, but are always necessary. They should never be allowed to roam freely. The last thing you’d want is your cat to hide under your brake pedal.
Cats should be placed in an amply-sized carrier, seat belt wrapped around the front to avoid it from bumping about, and the door securely latched shut (consider zip-ties).
For dogs, the advice is pretty much the same, although more recently dog-oriented seatbelts have also hit the market. These can be less of a stressor for pooch while still keeping them restrained. Just know that unlike seat belts designed for people, dog seat belts haven’t been reliably proven to protect dogs during a crash.
As a final note for safety, keep their heads in at all times. It’s great to have the windows open a crack to let all those fun smells keep them busy, but don’t open it enough for them to stick their heads out, or worse, jump. Flying debris is a real threat that can seriously injure your pup.
What Are the Risks of Leaving a Pet Alone in a Vehicle?
As mentioned before, having a travel partner is an excellent way to keep your pet safe and relaxed, but if you have no choice but to travel alone, make sure to plan a route with bathrooms or dining that fido can join you in.
Even if you leave your windows open a crack, the temperature inside a vehicle can quickly skyrocket leading to irreversible organ damage or death. Cold temperatures can be just as much a hazard.
Not to mention, people that come across your dog, may be tempted to stick their fingers into the window. If the dog bites them, you may still be liable for it.
On the flip side, if you find an animal left inside a car, here’s what you can do.
What Pet Essentials Should You Pack Before Your Road Trip?
Long trips are boring, so make sure to bring your pet something to do, this can be a chew toy, cat-nip, whatever keeps them occupied. Also bring something they can cuddle that smells like home.
Make sure they wear a collar with clear identification and contact information anytime they’re out of the car. Also bring a leash, doggy bags, treats, medicine, feeding bowls and food.
As for water, bring bottled, or your own supply of tap water. Water they are not accustomed to drinking can lead to an upset tummy—something neither of you want in your vehicle.
Finally, Pay Attention to Their Mood.
Even though traveling by road is less stressful for a pet than traveling by air, you should still always pay attention to their anxiety. Talk to them, pet them, take frequent breaks, and keep them restrained, so when you and your pet check-in to your short-term rental, you both can enjoy yourselves.
What Are Some Other Pet-friendly Travel Options?
Rail and sea are both attractive options to consider when traveling with a pet. Both can be great alternatives to road or air, but much the same, a little research goes a long way.
Because trains take frequent stops, you can take your buddy out for regular bathroom breaks. Just keep in mind, different railways have different policies on pet travel, so researching your options is still necessary.
Better yet, pet-friendly cruises are increasingly available that not only let you walk a leashed pet around the deck, but let them go cage-free when inside your cabin.
Traveling with a pet is not without risks, but if it can’t be avoided, the most important thing you can do is research, research, research, and always be their advocate.
Of course, traveling is only half the battle, the next is finding a pet-friendly place to stay. Since you wouldn’t want your pet to be confined to a tiny hotel room, why not consider booking a fully-furnished house or apartment?
Take for example this executive suite in the heart of Saskatoon’s central business district. With a fully-equipped eco-friendly kitchen, chic exposed brick, and plenty of room for your little buddy to run around in, you and your furry friend will have an excellent vacation.
And Check Out Some of Our Other Pet-friendly Suites Across Canada.
These homes away from home have all the amenities of a hotel with all the privacy and space of your own house. The fully-furnished homes and condos are both clean and stylish. Staying in one of our suites will help to keep you and your fluffy friend safe without sacrificing that much needed R&R.
Ask our personalized housing experts about our pet-friendly options next time you book a stay with us.