Traveling With Pets

A Sense of Adventure with a Little Preparation

Many of us have furry friends who are considered members of the family. Canine companions and feline buddies alike fill our lives with joy and laughter in the home, the great outdoors and even on trips. While it may seem daunting at first, traveling with one’s dog or cat can be accomplished with a little foresight and preparation.

Traveling long distances—by car or plane—can be stressful for humans and pets alike. We all make preparations for our comfort before hopping in the car or boarding a plane. I drink lots of water before long flights to stave off mid-air thirst and download music before I hit the road to listen to my favorite tunes while driving. For some, traveling by air is nerve-wracking and requires medication to calm anxiety. These essential principles we live by before we travel can be applied to our pets, too.

My husband and I welcomed a new family member to our home recently. We adopted Miss Mac, a two-year old tabby from the Brightside Animal Center in Redmond. While she was nervous about her new home, Miss Mac is proving to be an awesome feline companion. With each day, her fun and very social personality shines more and more.

However, never underestimate the inquisitive nature of feline paws! After testing her comfort with the pet carrier by driving around town, my husband and I decided to take the plunge and drive with Miss Mac to Prosser, WA to visit her new in-laws in the “Birthplace of Washington wine.” On the way, Miss Mac decided to paw the door of the pet carrier open. Luckily, her nervous nature took over while out of the pet carrier and she ended up burying herself underneath the driver’s seat instead of under the driver’s pedals!

We also learned about the power of the dark towel on the trip. In fact, the dark towel is one of the most important items to pack while traveling with a cat. Miss Mac howled for the first hour of the trip—not as bad as a baby on a plane, but enough to make the drive unbearable—and hadn’t settled down after perhaps the longest hour of our lives. Frustrated, we draped a dark colored towel over the pet carrier and within seconds . . . voilá! Miss Mac stopped “talking.” We spent the rest of the drive simultaneously happy it worked and annoyed we didn’t think of it earlier.

Of course, Central Oregon is home to many dogs, too. While they are very different from their feline friends, their needs are similar.

Emily Bemrose, DVM with Banfield Pet Hospital in Bend, recommends bringing “extra water and a bowl, always, when traveling with a dog in a car. If on a longer road trip, stop every few hours and, if possible, stop at areas where the dogs can jump in the water, especially since they usually ride in the back of a car or truck where there is no air conditioning.”

Just be careful of the dreaded “wet dog” smell!

Some pets require sedation when traveling. Always consult with your veterinarian well in advance of the trip if you believe it to be necessary.

Taking a road trip with your pet can and should be enjoyable for the both of you. Just like preparing for a human-only adventure out of town, traveling with a pet requires a bit of planning, thinking about safety and comfort, and a desire to hit the road.