By Lia Blanchard
During the holidays, when so many people are travelling, it is likely that you will either host or be a houseguest. The best way to take care of your “fur babies” during this time is a difficult balance of your pet’s needs and the realities of the situation.
If you have decided that your pet is better off travelling with you than paying for a pet-sitter or boarding facility, there are a few things that you can do to help him tolerate the trip.
By car. Cats and other small animals should always be in a carrier of some kind, and that carrier should be secured from bouncing or sliding. Dogs can ride in a crate or use a harness that buckles to your seat belt. Bring plenty of food and water – and bowls to put them in – and stop often to let your pet eat, drink, and move around. All animals should ride inside the vehicle, but never on the front seat.
By airplane. First and foremost, check with your airline to be sure you can fly with your pet. Rules and fees vary widely between airlines. Make sure that what you are told matches what you see on their website, and ask very detailed questions about carriers, size and breed restrictions. Ask your veterinarian about the best way to physically prepare your pet for air travel.
At the House
A houseful of people is stressful for any pet, regardless of species, breed, or whether the pet is host or guest. Taking the following steps will help to ensure your animal’s safety and well-being.
Stick to your routine as much as possible. Whether your pet is home or not, keeping a regular feeding/exercise/playtime schedule plays a critical role in maintaining the animal’s sense of security and trust in you.
Keep introductions calm. Allow your pet to meet new friends – human and otherwise – in an environment free of loud noises, running children, or other stressors. Stroke your furry friend calmly and give treats liberally. Be prepared to take him somewhere quiet for a few minutes if he shows signs of stress.
Provide the animal a quiet space and access to it. Dog crates, cat carriers, and small animal cages should be in a quiet room. Make sure your pet has all of the water, food, bedding, and toys she needs. If the animal is free to roam, make sure she knows how to get back to her space and keep the door open for her so she can retreat any time.
Remember your rules, and remind others. This is not a time to get lax about feeding or training. Unusual food or excessive treats can create a gastronomical problem that needs a veterinarian, probably after hours. Suddenly allowing things like jumping, begging, or roughhousing is an invitation for accidents – not to mention tedious retraining.
Please share your tips and comments below, and let’s all enjoy a peaceful holiday season with friends and family – be they feathered, furred, scaled, or otherwise.