Emergency Preparedness Tips for Travels with Your Dog and Cat

Not too long ago, traveling with pets was considered rather eccentric or, at least, very unusual. Most hotels and airlines tended to discourage or outright ban pets that weren’t service animals, which often meant that only the very wealthy could easily travel with their beloved companions. 

Today, however, traveling with pets is becoming far more commonplace, thanks to a more competitive travel industry and the massive popularity of pet travel content on social media. Pet owners are now also cognizant of the value of giving otherwise housebound pets new experiences to enrich their lives. As a sign of changing times, pet stores now also stock a far wider variety of custom pet products than they used to.

However, just because it’s easier to travel with your pets, it doesn’t mean you should just hit the road without any preparation. Whether you have a dog, cat, or any other non-human companion, safety becomes a much bigger concern than usual due to cross-border regulations and animals’ challenges adjusting to the wider human world. Let’s look at several tips to ensure your pets’ safety during your travels, especially if you’ll be bringing both a cat and a dog in tow:

1) Update Your Pets’ Identification

Tragically, hundreds of pets that are lost in transit are never recovered. Fortunately, the odds of a pet returning to the owner increase dramatically if they’ve been implanted with an ID chip and have collar tags printed with their owner’s information.

Even if you’re not traveling, make sure each of your pets’ microchips and collar ID tags have your current contact info. If they aren’t microchipped yet, head to your vet immediately to have your animal companions implanted with an identification chip. 

2) Check Airline Regulations

The skies aren’t quite as friendly to our furry companions as most of us would like, with airlines generally discouraging bringing pets into the cabin. Thankfully, many airlines won’t require you to put your dog or cat in the cargo hold. Regardless, double-check regulations and be aware of any breed restrictions set in place by your airline or your destination country.

3) Know Your Destination’s Biocontrol Laws

Biological control laws can vary dramatically from country to country, and even across state lines. In many cases, violating these regulations may result in any one of your animal companions getting detained and you being forced to pay hefty fines. Avoid these serious risks by making sure to secure the needed health certificates and other documentation required for your pets’ entry.

4) Stock Up on Necessities

Before you leave, stock up on your pets’ essentials, including food, treats, and especially their medications (make sure to check on the legality of these at your destination). Also, have extra supplies so that all of you will be able to survive any travel delays.

5) Keep Vet and Vaccination Records Handy

Even if you’re just going somewhere within the same state, it’s best to just bring along your pets’ vaccination records, medication names and dosages, and your veterinarian's contact details. You’ll never know if you have to visit a local vet during a travel emergency, and having this info ready should help avoid any confusion during these times.

6) Prepare a Dedicated Pet First Aid Kit

Neither your dog nor your cat may have any special medical conditions, but it will still make sense to pack a first aid kit to help you deal with injuries and mishaps. In addition to items that they need for preexisting conditions, include items like gauze, tweezers, and wound disinfectant. Double-check all supplies so that you’re sure they’re up to date and ready for use.

7) Make a List of Emergency Contacts

Long before you leave home, compile a list of emergency contacts. Include your vet, animal hospitals at the destinations you’re headed to, and the numbers of trusted friends or family members. If you’re headed for a foreign destination, prioritize animal clinics that can serve you in your language ahead of time.

8) Consider Travel Assistance Programs

The popularity of traveling with pets has led to the rise of travel assistance programs that specifically cater to the needs of pet owners. These businesses may be able to advise you on more specific aspects of pet travel, and some may even facilitate such things as pet boarding and pet-friendly emergency housing, among other services.

9) Keep Your Pets Hydrated

Some cats and dogs won’t necessarily accept water if they’re in unfamiliar environments, so you may want to consider adding a bit of chicken or tuna broth to their water to encourage them to drink up. Alternatively, you can offer them a wet treat when you’re in transit and immediately give them water when you get to your hotel or wherever else you’re staying.

10) Give Your Pets Breaks

The great thing about traveling by car is that you can plan regular breaks to allow your pets to stretch their legs and use the bathroom. If you’re going on a longer road trip, make sure to plan out rest stops for every two hours of travel.

11) Keep Your Pets Secure

Pets that are smart enough to become comfortable with travel are generally smart enough to escape. Before you leave, you’ll want to try out different leash and harness combinations to guarantee that your companion animals stay wherever they need to be.

Last-Minute Reminders for Safe Travel

Make no mistake, traveling with a pet carries a huge responsibility—all the more traveling with two different species of animal. If you’re in doubt, it may be a good idea to avoid the hassles of traveling and stick with a reliable sitter or pet boarding service. 

If you’re confident that you can manage all the risks, traveling with your cat and dog can be a uniquely rewarding experience. With these tips and a good dose of common sense, you and your pets will be all set to trot across the globe in comfort and safety.

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