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Travelling With Pets: How To Survive Car Journeys

It's summer holiday time! For most of us, that phrase will bring out a collective sigh of relief - but for the pet owners amongst us, the very thought of holidays brings a whole raft of questions and concerns: can you take your pet away with you? Should you take your pet away with you? And if you choose to do so, how on earth will you get your pet to your holiday destination? This article will examine some of the options that are available to you, to help make travelling with your pet an easy option for everyone. There are, as you might expect, all sorts of products on the market that are aimed at this particular problem. But you needn't get too trigger happy with the credit card straight away! The first thing to consider is your pet's safety during the journey - this will, of course, be your top priority. As such, you will need to ensure that you have a suitable pet carrier or crate in which you will transport your pet. There are a number of different options available, from large plastic, sturdy crates, which provide real stability when you're on the move, to softer folding ones. The softer ones often have removable padding, which can be a good option for those with travel sick pets! It is advisable to buy your crate several weeks before your departure date, to allow your pet ample time to get used to the unusual surroundings before you go. Building up your pet's tolerance for the crate in the weeks before you go is a good idea, starting with very small lengths of time - and rewarding them with treats or games after they have successfully completed their two/five/fifteen minutes in the crate. For some people, the idea of restraining their pet in a crate isn't one that they want to consider. But travelling by car is still an option. You can buy car harnesses which provide an alternative method of restraining your pet, without restricting them excessively. If you choose to restrain your pet in this way, it might be worth investing in a blanket or car seat cover to protect your car from the dirt and hair which your pet will bring with them!

Once in the car...

A comfortable pet will be much easier to manage than a pet in discomfort. As such, it is important to ensure that your pet is the right temperature, has the necessary food and water, and has enough to distract them throughout the journey. You might choose to accessorise your pet's carrier with a fan, which they are sure to appreciate (although this might not be suitable if your pet is just in a harness - your pet could injure itself by moving too close to the fan's arms). An alternative to this is a car window vent, which can be fitted to your regular car window. A car window vent will ensure that your dog gets fresh air throughout the journey, whilst making it trickier for them to lean out of the window. It also allows you to leave your pet in a parked car for a limited amount of time - although it is, as ever, not recommended that you leave your pet for long periods of time. In terms of refreshments, the most important thing to remember is to bring your pet's food and water bottles! If your pet usually takes 'wet' food, you might want to persuade them to take the 'drier' type, as it is much easier to clean up in the event of spillages. Many pets won't eat or drink so much when they are taken out of their regular environment - but it is still important to give them the option.

Rest Stops

It is extremely important to ensure that you give your pet ample 'rest stops' throughout your journey - important both for your pet (of course), and your car's upholstery! Once you have stopped, try to find a bit of open land to allow your pet to stretch its legs -although, remember that they may be quite excited to be out of the car! If you will still be by a road, a stake and cable is a good way of giving your pet some freedom, whilst still ensuring their safety. If rest stops aren't possible, it might be worth investing in some 'pet wipes', that will allow you to wipe up any messes quickly and easily.

Are we nearly there yet?

Ok, so your pet can't articulate their boredom, but pets, like children, are easily bored. A long journey might be more than they can handle, so it is a good idea to take with you a few of your pet's favourite toys or chews. Do ensure, however, that the toy isn't one that your pet can destroy - and remember that they will have a long time to concentrate on doing so! Your pet might also be feeling worried about the unfamiliar environment in which they find itself in, so, if you can, think about bringing their favourite toys and/or blanket to act as a comforter.


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