Taking a Road Trip with Bowser and Fluffy for the Holidays? Animal Behavior College offers 6 tips for Traveling with Cats and Dogs

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Many pet owners consider their pets as part of the family and are bringing them along when they travel. It's important to make preparations in advance to ensure a safe and happy holiday adventure.

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“And thanks to the increasing availability of pet-friendly hotels and restaurants, traveling with dogs and cats is now easier and much more convenient,” said Crystallynn Hetlinger, ABC’s Animal Behaviorist and contributing curriculum author.

During the busy holiday season, millions of Americans will travel to their destinations by car and approximately 37 percent will bring their pets with them, according to the American Pet Products Association. Before packing the car, Animal Behavior College (ABC) offers six important travel tips pet owners should follow before hitting the road with Bowser and Fluffy.

“Many pet owners consider their pets as part of the family and are bringing them along when they travel,” said Crystallynn Hetlinger, ABC’s Animal Behaviorist and contributing curriculum author. “And thanks to the increasing availability of pet-friendly hotels and restaurants, traveling with dogs and cats is now easier and much more convenient.”

Since pet owners usually take their pets on car trips to veterinary clinics or other places many pets find stressful, some pets make negative associations with traveling in vehicles. Before hitting the road for the holidays, Ms. Hetlinger says pet owners should first make sure their cats and dogs enjoy riding in a vehicle. To help them acclimate, she suggests taking them on a series of short trips of increasing length before the day of the road trip and giving them a treat once each trip is over. During and after each short trip, pet owners should assess their pets’ behavior. “If after several attempts at teaching pets to associate more positive things with travel, owners who notice that their pets continue to show signs of distress and discomfort should probably make arrangements to leave their four-legged companions with a friend or relative or hire a pet-sitter,” she added.

Before hitting the road, pet owners should also ensure pet vaccinations and microchip information are current.

“No matter how well-planned a trip is there is still a chance a pet might get out due to some unforeseen and unavoidable situation,” said RJ, editor of The Purrington Post. “This is why owners should make sure their dogs and cats are microchipped and are wearing a collar with an I.D. tag. They should also bring copies of their pets’ vaccination records and veterinarians’ contact information.”

ABC’s holiday road trip tips for traveling with cats and dogs:

Keep Cats and Dogs Safe and Comfy in a Travel Crate, Carrier or Harness and Buckle up. Any pets who ride in cars should be properly restrained in the back seat in a safe carrier or harness that can be buckled onto the seat for added safety. Travel crates not only keep cats and small dogs comfortable and secure, but they also prevent them from dangerously roaming around the car and escaping unexpectedly through an open car window or door. There are an assortment of pet carriers, harnesses and other safety equipment available through several pet equipment manufacturers.

Pack the Essentials. Bring along Bowser and Fluffy’s favorite and familiar objects such as beds, blankets and toys. In addition, pack leashes, cat litter and a litterbox, treats, food, water and pet bowls. Do not feed pets 3 or 4 hours before leaving to prevent upset stomachs and motion sickness

Consult Your Cat and Dog’s Veterinarian prior to the Trip. Contact your veterinarian to discuss administering medications or other motion sickness preventatives in the event your pet becomes ill.

Research Veterinary Clinics near Your Travel Destination. Before leaving home, map out and create a list of reputable veterinary clinics and 24-hour veterinarian hospitals en route and at your destination in the event of a medical emergency.

Make Frequent Stops. Take breaks every 2 hours. Leash pets and take them for bathroom breaks and give them time to stretch and explore their surroundings.

Download Pet-Friendly Travel Apps. There are several travel apps for pet-friendly lodging, restaurants, excursions, etc. Before leaving, research appropriate apps and book lodging in advance to ensure travel is as stress-free as possible.

ABC prepared a checklist and video demonstration pet owners can use when planning their holiday road trip with their pets.

ABC offers professional certifications in dog training, pet grooming, cat training and veterinary assisting. ABC also offers specialized certificates of completion for five Short-Term Programs: Pet Massage, Pet Nutrition and Diet, Pet Sitting and Dog Walking, Training Shelter Dogs, and The Art of Selling and Teaching Private Lessons.

To become a dog trainer, cat trainer, pet groomer or veterinary assistant, call 800-795-3294. Visit the website at AnimalBehaviorCollege.com.

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About Animal Behavior College
Animal Behavior College is the school of choice for more professional dog trainers, cat trainers, veterinary assistants and pet groomers than any other specialty schools of its kind. Since its inception in 1998, the school has graduated and certified more than 14,500 professional dog trainers through the Dog Obedience Program and more than 10,300 professional pet groomers and veterinary assistants combined through the Grooming Instruction and Veterinary Assistant Programs.

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Angela Pena
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