Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: How to Prep Your Pet for Travel
Written by Rose Torrento on Tuesday, April 09, 2019
You’re headed to a new nursing assignment halfway across the country. Fido is coming too! You’re excited to have your furry friend with you, but the prospect of traveling with them is making you nervous. How can you be sure they’ll make it safely? Are you planning their accommodations properly? What aren’t you remembering? It’s all very nerve wracking. But it doesn’t have to be. Traveling with a pet is easier than you think when you plan ahead.
Planning ahead is key
When you’re working on getting yourself ready to travel to an assignment, it can be easy to forget simple things your pet needs to travel safely. When traveling with pets, always make checklists and verify you have everything in advance, so the trip itself goes smoothly.
First, you’ll want to check on the rules regarding pets for the mode of travel you’re taking.
Are you flying? Check the airline’s requirements for safe pet travel, including what type of carrier is necessary and whether your pet will need to ride cargo or can travel with you in the cabin. Make sure you purchase pet fares, too.
If you’re driving, look into car carriers or harnesses. Cats will be more comfortable in a hard-shell carrier, whereas dogs might appreciate more freedom to sit in the seat while safely harnessed in.
Discuss your travel plans with your pet’s veterinarian. If your cat or dog has anxiety, they may be able to recommend medications to keep your pet calm. Your vet should also provide a certificate of health to prove that it’s safe for your pet to travel.
When packing, make sure you don’t forget food and water bowls, extra food, treats, and a few comfort items, like your pet’s favorite toy or a T-shirt that carries your scent.
Prep your pet
Unfortunately, even if you are ready for the trip, your pet might not be completely comfortable with travel. Work with your pet in the weeks leading up to your trip to get them used to their carrier.
When you purchase a carrier, leave it open around the home and encourage your pet to investigate and spend time inside. The more contact your pet has with the carrier, the more comfortable they will be on the road or flight. Reward your pet with treats after positive experiences with the carrier to build a positive connection.
If you’re driving, take your pet for “test drives” around town to get them used to the feeling of being in the car. Spraying the carrier with pheromone spray or putting comfort items like blankets, beds, and your clothing in the carrier can also help your pet relax when the time comes to load up. These tips will help reduce your pet’s anxiety so they understand that travel is not something to be afraid of.
When the time for your trip rolls around, it can be easy to fret about forgetting something or fear something bad happening to your pet. It’s very important to remain calm and display that relaxation to your pet.
Pets often take signals from their owners, so a stressed pet parent can quickly result in a stressed dog or cat. Stay reassuring and calm so your pet knows it is safe. Your pet needs you as much as you need them, and you’ll make the journey just fine together.
About the Author
Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.