There are a lot of details to mull over when traveling with pets: How do I minimize my dog’s bathroom breaks? How do I make sure my cat is comfortable in that little crate? But one of the most important questions to consider (certainly in your pet’s mind) is how and when to feed your furry friend while on the road.
If you’re traveling by car
This mode of transportation can potentially be less stressful when traveling with pets, as it means you can choose to make stops when needed. Always avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle; he’s less likely to get sick if only fed when you’re taking a brief break from the road. Take your dog for a quick jog around the rest area or gas station parking lot when you do stop. Burning off some energy before eating will keep his metabolism moving and will also keep him happy and calm in the car.
If you’re not sure if your pet is prone to motion sickness, however, you should still refrain from feeding him for several hours before you leave. Bring dry food and food and water dishes with you in the car so that if your pet gets hungry, you can stop to feed him. Make sure you have enough of your pet’s usual food to get you through the trip, so that you don’t have to deal with any gastrointestinal distress along the way. Suddenly swapping your pet’s food on him could lead to tummy troubles.
Even if you sneak your pet an occasional bite of human food at home, don’t give him any while traveling. Though it may be tempting to treat your pet to some tasty people eats like a bite of a cheeseburger or a french fry, human foods—especially the greasy fast foods so easily found on the road—could seriously upset your pet’s stomach.
You should bring bottled water on long road trips, especially if you plan to cross state or national borders. Drinking water from an unfamiliar area or source could also upset your pet’s digestive system and cause discomfort.
If you’re traveling by plane
If your dog or cat is small enough to fit under the seat in a carrier, flying with a dog or cat may be a relatively practical option for you. However, call the airline before choosing to fly with your small dog or cat to make sure you are aware of that particular airline’s rules and regulations for pets. You don’t want to assume you can bring your pet with you into the cabin and find out otherwise when it’s too late.
When flying with a dog or cat, it’s best to refrain from feeding them for 4-6 hours before flying. This will cut down on your pet’s need to go to the bathroom while in the air. And some pets, like people, experience motion sickness, so keeping your pal’s stomach empty just before and during the flight can help prevent nausea and vomiting, as well.
Freeze a small dish or tray of water for your pet before departure. That way, the liquid will be solid and not spillable while you make your way through the airport, security and boarding. It will melt by the time you’re both settled in on the flight and your pet gets thirsty.