Whether you’re getting out of town for the weekend or you have a longer vacation planned, it’s a smart idea to consider your pet’s safety and comfort before you go.
After you do your homework on pet travel regulations, including size requirements for pet carriers, necessary vaccinations, and paperwork needed for therapy or emotional support animals, it’s time to think about how your pet will be secured, fed and entertained during your upcoming trip.
To help, we’ve asked Dr. Stephanie Liff, DVM and medical director of Pure Paws Vet Care in New York City, for the best advice when it comes to pet supplies for travel. Here are six pet travel essentials and some tips for how to reduce your pet’s stress and get to your destination safely.
Don’t Forget These Six Pet Travel Supplies Before Your Trip
This item is probably the most important one for small and medium dogs and cats. Keeping the pet and driver safe in the car means finding a method of confinement that’s comfortable and secure, notes Dr. Liff. “A sturdy carrier such as Pawfect Pets premium dog and cat carrier with open sides so the pet can breathe easily is imperative,” she adds. You’ll also want to find a carrier with a firm bottom that you can comfortably carry.
Pet Seat Belt
A pet seat belt is a great way to secure a larger dog while in a car. There are a variety of options, like Solvit deluxe tether clips for your pup as well as harnesses and car seats. Because pet seat belts are usually sized by animal type and weight, you will want to measure your pet to make sure you are getting the right size. Keep this item in your car at all times, and consider purchasing an extra one to take with you if you’ll be using a rental car while on vacation. You might also want to look into a seat cover for your car, such as Pet Magasin luxury hammock car seat cover as your pet will no doubt make himself at home in your backseat during the trip.
You can’t always count on a hotel or inn to have pet food bowls and water bowls on hand. Instead, pack your own versions such as the Petmate silicone round collapsible travel bowl and make sure your pet has had a chance to use them ahead of time. “I typically don’t offer a lot of food and water while on the road, but once you’ve arrived, it’s helpful to have dishes and other accessories from home that are familiar,” explains Dr. Liff.
Let’s face it—if accidents can happen at home, then they’re bound to occur while you’re on the road. And even if you’re not training a puppy, the stress that some animals experience when they’re away can be enough to cause an accident in a hotel or airport. To help, consider the Simple Solution Washable training and travel pad for your pooch.
Your pet’s playthings are a definite must-have when traveling. Bring along your pup’s favorite balls or squeakers, and pack your cat’s beloved interactive mouse toy such as the Hexbug robotic cat toy. Keeping your animal entertained can reduce the stress he might feel while staying in a new place.
Calming Treats and Sprays
A special calming spray or delicious treat can help your pet stay relaxed during pet travel. The Feliway Travel On The Go Management Behavior Modifier Spray uses pheromones to keep your kitty calm, and Zesty Paws Stress & Anxiety Calming Bites with Suntheanine, which are made with real turkey and an amino acid that works to ease tension and calm your canine.
Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a New York City writer/editor and the mom of two teenage girls. She’s also the devoted owner of a rescue pup named Django, a temperamental Shepherd mix. Geddes has worked for Food & Wine, Parenting, Seventeen and Airbnb magazines and creates content for dozens of sites, including Care, Fisher-Price, the National Sleep Foundation and Realtor.