The one thing we always take when we travel with Riley, even if it’s just a day trip, is a collapsible, plastic Travel Dog Bowl. These things are great. They flatten and fit in my handbag or backpack. They fit into the door side pockets or the glove compartment. They are unbreakable, durable, lightweight and cheap. They even come in different sizes and colors.
On longer trips, we take two -one for water, and one for food. Saves us the hassle of lugging Riley’s stainless steel or ceramic water and food bowls. Really – I’m not exaggerating. I recommend at least one travel dog bowl for every household that has pets. They’re perfect. BUY YOURS HERE.
I receive quite a few emails every week asking questions about airlines and pet travel. Which airline is the most pet friendly? Can my pet ride in the cabin with me? What kind of pet carrier do I need to bring my pet on a plane?
Unfortunately, there are very few hard and fast rules that apply across the board to all pet friendly airlines. The policies vary from carrier to carrier and change frequently. These are the only rules that seem to apply universally:
If an airline allows pets in the cabin, they must fit under the seat in their carrier.
Most airlines restrict the number of pets allowed in the cabin.
If your pet is too large to fit under the seat, then it goes as excess baggage or cargo – which can be dangerous for pets.
Airlines have tried to limit the possibility of injury or death to pets traveling in baggage or cargo. Recently, airlines have started to ban brachycephalic dogs and cats from cargo. Airlines also restrict pet travel in cargo during extreme weather conditions. And they require an airline approved travel crate whether the dog is flying cargo or in the cabin.
The rules for pet travel on airlines is confusing and complex, and it’s impossible for me to answer with any confidence. I have, however, found a great resource to help you begin researching for this information. SeatGuru has set up a great search tool that shows the pet travel policy for each individual airline carrier. After you find an airline that has a pet policy that seems to fit your travel needs, go to that airline’s website and double check that the policy has not changed. Consider calling the airline and speaking directly with an agent to confirm the policy and resolve any questions you might have (and get his or her name). It’s also a good idea to print a copy of the online policy and bring it with you to the airport.
Since 2005, airlines have been required to submit reports to the Department of Transportation detailing incidents involving the death, injury or loss of pets that are transported as cargo. Finally, in September 2010, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association published an article that detailed those findings.
The good news is that the number of tragic reports is minimal when compared to the estimated 500,000 pets that travel in the cargo area each year on domestic flights in the USA. In the past five years, airlines have reported 122 dog deaths, along with the deaths of 22 other pets, and 88 incidents involving injuries to pets or loss of pets.
Most importantly, the statistics showed that Brachycephalic dog breeds, such as Pugs, Japanese Chins, French and English Bulldogs were found to comprise about half of all dogs — 122 canines — that died on United States airlines.
As a result, American Airlines has announced that they will not accept snub-nosed pets for travel in cargo. These dog breeds include Boxers, Pekingese, Boston Terriers and other snub-nosed dogs. Brachycephalic cats (Himalayan, Persian, Burmese and Exotic Shorthair) are also banned from travel as cargo on American Airlines.
No doubt that other airlines will follow with similar restrictions. While this does make it more difficult for pet owners to transport their pets on an airline, the airline industry should be commended for their pro-active reaction to this information and their efforts to safeguard our pets traveling in cargo.
If you know of other airlines that have already enacted these restrictions, please add that information as a comment.
It’s common sense to always have a pet identification tag on your pet. Even if they cats that “never go outside.” Trust me, I’ve had those critters and they can escape in a split second if they really want out. You should have pet id tags even if your dog or cat is micro-chipped. Not everybody knows about micro-chips or will bother to take the pet to a vet or a shelter where they have the chip readers. In Mexico, it’s even more important to have pet identification tags. Chip-readers are not on every Mexican street corner.
We always have a pet id tag on Riley that includes his name, our city and state, home phone number and one of our cell numbers. But what about when we’re on the road? That home phone number is worthless, and if we are in Mexico, our Verizon cell phone is about as useful for communication as a cement block. (Sorry, Verizon. I like your service a lot, but not when we’re in Mexico.)
A few years ago, I added my email address to Riley’s dog tag. Can’t hurt, maybe it would help. Before we leave on a trip, I try to get a phone number for our ultimate destination, whether it’s a hotel, rental or a home exchange, and I get a new tag made up with that information. Another option I’ve used is the phone number for a trusted friend who can take calls and take care of anything that happens. When we’ve gone overseas and left Riley with friends, he arrives at their home with food, his bed, toys, treats and a shiny new dog identification tag with THEIR phone number on it.
Am I paranoid? Maybe. I’d rather think that I’m just being a responsible pet owner. And one who does everything she can not to have my pets wandering around lost.
Before you leave on your next trip, consider what would be the best way to have someone locate you if they found your pet. It’s a cheap investment for huge peace of mind. You can order and buy Pet Identification Tags from Amazon, with some really unique and cut designs that you will not find at your local pet superstore.
In anticipation of our upcoming road trip to Florida, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a dog car seat. When Riley rides in the car, his preference is to ride on the dashboard. Obviously, that’s definitely not a good idea.
In the past, when we travel with Riley for long distances, we have always used a dog crate to keep him safe. When we take him in the car for short distances, we use the vehicle that has a car barrier installed which is made especially for keeping pets in the back seat. Both of these options work for us, as Riley is an active dog who gets a bit anxious in the car.
But I’ve wondered about getting a dog car seat. Might he prefer being out of the crate so he can look out the window? Would he struggle to get loose from the car seat? Is a car seat as safe as a crate in case of an accident? So I did some research.
Not all dog car seats will fit in every car. Be sure that you select a car seat that can attach properly to your vehicle. Some car seats are designed to hook into the seat belts, while others have a strap that goes around the back of the front seat.
The more padding, the better. Both for your dog’s comfort and for his safety.
Smaller dogs are better suited to dog car seats, and you can usually find seats that will work in either the front or back seat for mini and small dogs. There are car seats that can be used in the back seat that will fit in the back seat of your vehicle.
Large and extra large dogs often do better in a pet hammock.
Many smaller dogs love having a dog car seat that is also a dog booster seat. That way they are raised up to window level and can enjoy the scenery.
I’ll probably try one of these dog car seats before we leave for Florida – sure would appreciate knowing your experiences with them.
I know that most people don’t think of Arizona and snow as co-existent, but surprise! In the winter, we have the warm desert and our swimming pools in Scottsdale, and two hours away, you’ll find snow and skiing in Flagstaff.
And we have friends who live in the chilly northern climes, and often bundle up to visit them over the holidays. Of course, Riley goes along too, and we’ve researched some tips on how to make it safe and comfortable for him.
Never leave your dog outside in the cold without supervision. This is especially true for short-haired dogs, puppies or old dogs. Cats are also very sensitive to cold and need to be indoors where it’s warm (of course, I believe cats should never be outdoors unsupervised).
You might want to get your short-coated dog a sweater to wear during walks or in the house if you keep that thermostat set low.
Some people find that their pets need more food in the winter, probably because keeping their bodies warm requires more energy. But be careful not to overfeed them.
Be careful when you are walking your pet around areas that have been treated with salt or other chemicals to help melt snow and ice. That stuff can irritate the pads of their feet. Worse, if they ingest it, it’s downright harmful. You can buy chemicals that are pet friendly to melt the ice if you need them.
If you must leave your dog outside for long periods of time, make sure he has dry, draft-free shelter. It should be large enough so that he can lay down and sit in a comfortable position, but not too much larger. The smaller space will hold the dog’s body heat better. Be sure to raise the floor a few inches off the ground, and turn the shelter away from the wind. A dog house with some kind of doggy door is best – even if it’s only plastic or burlap.
How do you keep your pets warm in the winter? Do to take extra precautions if your pet isn’t used to cold weather?
As we researched and visited pet friendly hotels and learned about their policies, it became clear that some rules were universal. If we want hotels to continue to welcome our pets, as responsible pet owners we should learn these rules and follow them every time we travel with our pets.
Your pet must be trained and well-behaved.
Barking dogs are an intrusion to other guests (and will often get you thrown out of the hotel).
Many hotels do not want your pets on their furniture or on the beds. Check with the management, or just say “No”.
Any damage caused by your pet is your responsibility. If your cat uses the curtains as a scratching post, accept responsibility and pay for repair or replacement. If your dog or cat has an accident, pay for the carpet cleaning. If your dog chews on the bathroom door, he is probably not a good candidate for staying in hotels.
Some hotels do not allow you to leave your pet in the room when you go out. But, if they do, leaving your pet in a pet travel crate is the best choice. Not only will this eliminate the risk of damage to the room, but more importantly, it will protect your pet if housekeeping unexpectedly comes in the room.
Dogs must be leashed at all times outside of your hotel room (although there are a few hotels that have enclosed areas for the dogs to run).
MOST IMPORTANTLY, clean up after your pets. Dispose of kitty litter in an appropriate place – don’t leave it in a plastic bag for the maid to deal with. When you take your dog for a walk, bring along poop bags and use them, again disposing the bag appropriately.
Following these basic rules is not just a good way of encouraging hotels to continue and expand their pet friendly policies. It’s simply common courtesy.
And just two weeks ago, I learned exactly why I should have taken care of this a long time ago.
In the middle of the night, Riley woke up scratching. His ears, his hind quarters and sides. Within fifteen minutes, he was rubbing his snout on the carpet. Then he began chewing his paws, causing him to whine and rolling around on the carpet like he was trying to scratch his back. This was not the normal behavior of our dog.
I tried to sooth his scratching with cool washcloths, which seemed to help only slightly. His scratching caused red welts on his body and bruising on his delicate ears. After nearly four hours, exhausted, he finally fell asleep. I was too worried to sleep, but as soon as the vet’s office was open, I called for an emergency visit.
After an examination and some tests, the vet figured that he had been bitten by something – perhaps a spider or even a scorpion – or it was an allergic reaction to the rabies vaccination he had gotten the prior week. Thankfully, after a shot of prednisone, another of Benedryl, and a few hours of sleep, Riley was fine.
But the vet explained to me that I should have had Benedryl on hand for such emergencies – as part of my dog first aid kit. I could have safely given him Benedryl to relieve his symptoms and misery until I could arrange to get him to the vet. Truthfully, I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even have a pet first aid kit.
Which is particularly risky since we travel with Riley, often to remote locations and into Mexico, where locating a vet or emergency animal care may not be very easy. Having that dog first aid kit would allow us to treat small injuries ourselves, handle larger emergencies on our own until we can get expert care, and might even save our dog’s life one day.
Later that day, I ordered this 51 Piece AKC Pet First Aid Kit, which is perfect for dogs or cats. We’ll keep it in our home or car – where ever Riley goes, it goes with us. I added a small bottle of Benedryl, our vet’s business card, and a little card that lists all of Riley’s medical information (date of last shots, medications he takes, allergies, etc.). I might have put all our contact information on that card too, except Riley has pet i.d. tags and a microchip.
Many vets will also suggest that you keep a bottle of ipecac syrup in your pet first aid kit to induce vomiting in case of poisoning. Ask your vet for instructions and proper dosages.
Just one more small thing that we can all do to keep our pets safe, comfortable and happy. Have you ever needed a pet emergency kit? Tell us about it by commenting below.