The Dangers of Bringing Pets During Family Travels

March 23, 2018
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You may have noticed more and more animals making an appearance in hotels, flights, cars and stores.

Although the exact number of how many families bring their pet on vacation is not known, it is estimated that as many as 47 percent of Americans own a dog, and as many as 37 percent own a cat.

A survey done by TripAdvisor of 1,100 travelers, found that more than half of all those surveyed travel with their pets, and only stay at pet-friendly properties. This same survey found that those who travel with their pets tend to take shorter vacations—and fewer vacations—than those who do not travel with their pets.

Regulations for Traveling with a Pet to Another State or Country

Aside from family vacations, animals must travel when a family relocates—sometimes across the United States, or even to another country. Despite the fact that traveling with your pet has become more mainstream in the past few years, it can still bring a host of headaches to deal with. As an example, when you are traveling with your dog, and your flight is cancelled, you may have to quickly find a place which allows pets until your flight is re-scheduled. Further, if you are flying with a pet, each airline has varying pricing scales and regulations, plus, individual countries and states also have very different regulations regarding rabies and distemper shots as well as required quarantine periods.

Think Carefully About Bringing Your Pet on Vacation

Obviously, if you are moving, your pet must come along. However, if you are simply taking a short trip or vacation, you might want to think carefully about bringing your pet along. It can be quite stressful for a pet to travel on an airplane, train, or even in your family vehicle, so you must consider their health and emotional needs before you load them up.

Further, if your pet happens to have a difficult or anxious temperament, illness, or physical impairment, travel becomes even more stressful—for the pet and for you.  While you may feel your pet would feel abandoned if you leave them behind, you must also consider how much time your pet will be left behind in a strange motel room. It could be kinder, in the end, to find a pet-sitter and leave them in their own home, or perhaps a kennel which has good recommendations and is close to your home.

If You Do Decide to Bring Your Pet Along

Should you decide to bring your pet along on your family travels, there are several important considerations. First, be aware that if your pet is in the vehicle with you, it can end up being a dangerous distraction if not properly restrained.

Since only about 16 percent of animal owners use safety restraints for their pets, 4 percent of drivers say they play with their dog while driving, and 17 percent of drivers admitted to allowing their dog to sit in their lap while driving, it is clear that an unrestrained dog or cat can be a serious distraction to the driver.

You must also consider the safety of your pet if it is allowed to ride in your vehicle unrestrained. Consider that if you collide with another car at just 25 mph, an unrestrained dog will be thrown forward at a force equal to a staggering 40 times the dog’s weight. Aside from having a car accident with a pet in the car, it is a good idea to speak with your pet’s veterinarian before deciding to take the pet on a family trip.

Your vet can make sure the pet is in good enough health to travel and is up to date on all vaccinations. If you have no choice but to travel with your pet, say if you are moving, your vet may be able to give you a mild sedative for the trip, which will make it easier for you and for your pet.

If you bring your pet along for the trip, make sure you have packed plenty of supplies to keep them comfortable. If you are traveling by plane or train, or traveling to a different state or country, you may need a health certificate and your pet’s medical and vaccination records. Be aware that having your pet travel by air in the cargo hold can be particularly dangerous and stressful for the pet. In the end, make the best decision for your pet when deciding whether to bring them along.

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