Moving can be a stressful ordeal, especially when you throw pets into the mix. Traveling with pets can make moving complicated since you can’t just pack up your things, hop in the car, and go. Car travel that lasts more than a few hours takes planning, even if you’re driving by yourself or with one other person.
While you’re in planning mode, minimizing potty and food breaks may be the aim of you and your traveling partner. However, when pets come into the equation, you may find yourself stopping much more often than you intended. Frequent breaks, slobbery dogs, and hair all over your vehicle may be just some of the many things you can look forward to with pet travel.
But, there are a good number of things you can do to minimize the stress of traveling on you and your pet. And dare we say, your trip with Fido might actually be enjoyable? Here are some important factors to consider before taking off on your big local or long distance move, with man’s best friends.
To Crate or Not To Crate
If your pet will tolerate it well, you may want to consider crating them during your trip. Most states have laws regulating how pets travel in cars. Some states do not allow pets to be in the driver’s lap. Other states will take action if your pet causes an accident.
While most states don’t require your pet to be in a crate, it may be the safest bet for both you and your pet. If you do choose to crate your animal, make sure the crate you have still fits your pet. You may need to test it out first to make sure your pet has plenty of space to comfortably move around.
Your pet should be able to stand up and turn around in the crate. Yes, this means the size of your crate can get pretty big depending on the weight and height of your dog. The crate should be well ventilated so that air can easily pass through. If you have more than one pet, you can crate them together, but make sure the amount of room is more than sufficient for the two. Lastly, if you do get into an accident you’ll be well served to have a strong, well-constructed kennel to protect your cat, dog, or other beloved animals.
For some pets, particularly dogs, car travel is fun and exciting. Many dogs are happy enough to hang out in the back seat with their heads out the window. Some will even tolerate doggy seatbelts. If you own a pet like this you may feel pretty comfortable forgetting the crate altogether, especially if you’re relying on your pet to give you some quality company.
Other animals, however, may feel quite stressed out by a long car ride. For many, a crate provides a safe, secure environment where they can chill out and wait for the ride to be over. The crate serves as their “happy place”, so to speak.
Taking A Test Run
If you’re unsure about how your pet will react to a long car ride, even one that may span days, try taking your furry friend on a test run. A short weekend trip out may give you a good indication of what kind of environment your pet will thrive in if you’re not sure. While most cats will need to stay in their crate, there will be dogs who can be perfectly behaved in the seat next to you – provided you feel safe and are able to keep the car on the road.
Medicating Your Pet
That test run may reveal some useful information about your pet’s attitude toward car rides. It may be the case that your dog, cat, bird, or hamster may have an unusually hard time calming down. Some dogs, for example, whine nonstop until the car ride is over. Others sit on the floor of the car and drool from motion sickness. Some puke.
When you run into issues like this, you may want to pay a visit to your veterinarian. Your vet may suggest something as simple as an over the counter remedy to cure your pet’s anxiety with recommendations for the correct dosage. Or, they may want to prescribe your animal something a little bit stronger if they think it would be more effective.
Equipment For Your Car
If your pet is using a crate, make sure you have one that will make it comfortable for the long haul. If your pet is free to move around in the car, consider purchasing a pet barrier. They come in a variety of materials such as netting, quilting, or plastic-coated metal mesh. You can use them to prevent pets from coming into the front seat area or even keeping them in the very back of your van or SUV.
Potty and Food Breaks
No matter how comfortable your pet is in the car, their going to need a break every now and again. Plan ahead to make room for additional pet potty breaks. Every time you stop for your own breaks, give your pet the opportunity to get out too to stretch their legs. Though it may be best to keep cats in the car. Make sure to pack a small bin and bowls for food and water that’s easy to access, so that feeding your pet is a breeze. Other things to keep handy are plastic bags to clean up messes and a leash so you don’t lose your dog, cat, or iguana at the next rest stop.
If your pet is not a dog, then you most certainly will need a crate or cage. Many animals such as birds, cats, or lizards may actually feel more comfortable if a blanket is placed over the crate or cage to make them feel more secure. This is something you can do in your trial run to see if a blanket is what they prefer.
Whatever the circumstance, whether you’re driving with a dog, cat, multiple dogs, multiple cats, or any other type of creature, with plenty of planning ahead, and a little bit of patience, your next move can be a low stress one for you and your pet.