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Pet owners: A guide on how to travel with your pet

Leisure and Travel By Esther Muchene

If you ever find yourself suffering from guilt or separation anxiety at the thought of going away without your beloved companion you are not alone.

Many pet owners go through the agony of getting a trusted minder who will care enough to make sure their lovely pets are well taken care of. This, however, does not negate fears of leaving your telescope eye goldfish in the hands of a stranger.

If you really want your furry bestie around, you have to put in some work. Here are a few guidelines you should consider when travelling with your pet.

1. Inquire on the requirements and limitations when travelling

When planning a flight, inquire on whether or not the airline can accommodate pets. Take note of the number of pets allowed, carrier size permitted, additional fees and other requirements such as vaccines that must be administered. Some airlines require the vaccines are given weeks prior to travelling so, the earlier, the better!

2. Visit the vet

Make sure you visit the vet for a check-up. This will clear your furry friend of any health concerns that may arise. You need to be prepared for anything because some pets get car sick or an upset stomach which is triggered by stress and may need special treatment prior to travelling.

3. Do a test run

This is great when planning a road trip. It’s best to practice travelling for a short distance with your pet in order to gauge how comfortable they are. You will be able to notice whether your pet has traveller’s anxiety and consult your vet on the best way to deal with this. During this period, you can also shop for a comfortable carrier with enough room and ventilation.

4. Carry the required documents

When planning a trip, make sure you carry the required health certifications such as vaccination documentation, a letter from the vet, etc. It is also advisable to carry extra name tags with your contact information on them. ‘Live animal’ labels to attach to the carrier can come in handy and serve as a precautionary measure to others to ensure the safety of your pet comes first.

5. Extra supplies

Ensure you carry enough food and water for your pet. Carrying your pet’s toys or blanket will enable it to be more relaxed and reduce stress levels for a smooth journey.

6. Safety first

Although your dog might enjoy catching a breeze by sticking his head out the window of a moving car or even jumping freely in the car, this can be a safety hazard. Excited animals have been reported to be the cause of many accidents. It is best to minimalize movements by having a comfortable carrier or kennel for the journey which should be fastened using a safety belt. These precautionary measures also prevent your cat or dog from being injured in case of an accident.

7. Plan stopovers

When travelling by road, it is advisable that you make stopovers every two to three hours. This allows time for stretching as well as bathroom breaks.

8. Do not leave your pet unattended

Some people have the habit of leaving their dogs or cats in a hot unventilated vehicle for long periods of time. Dogs and cats are at risk of suffering from suffocation and heat strokes which can consequently kill them. If you must drag them along choose pet-friendly restaurants and locations instead of leaving them alone in the car for hours. If you can’t mind them, leave them at home.

9. Plan your stay

This step is crucial and is better considered even before travelling. Ensure you’ve booked a pet-friendly hotel that has enough room for your pet.

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