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Holiday Travel Tips With Your Pets

Christmas break – It means family, relaxation, and gifts to me. However, having moved to a different province than my family, Christmas means more than just fun things. It means traveling. I know other people are in the same boat, too. They have to travel with their pet by car or by plane. And it’s not always the easiest! Each method of transportation has its disadvantages.

Myself, I often travel with my cats by car. It is easier for me to make sure that they are comfortable, and I don’t need to worry about somebody else handling them. They were trained as kittens to handle being in their carriers in the car when driving (safety first!). During our restroom breaks, we open up a plastic bin filled with litter and give them food and water. We allow them to stroll around outside the car on harness and lead, too. Still, traveling is scary and stressful for all of us. Other things that I do to help improve their comfort is applying Feliway to their carriers and bring toys, blankets and food items from home. We have managed multiple seven-hour drives and even a 12-hour drive a few times. During those 12-hour trips, I often wonder if it’s not better to travel by plane. It is especially useful to travel cats by plane if the drive is longer than a day.

Sadly, not all pets travel well by car or by plane. I have had many people come see me about prescribing sedatives and anti-anxiety medications for travel. It is sometimes appropriate. I definitely don’t want the anxiety and fear associated with travel to affect the pet negatively. But, I do have my concerns that sedation secondary to some medications may decrease the ability of the pet to manage its body temperature.

The last option when traveling for Christmas is relying on another person to care for them. I have asked friends to check on my cats daily to care for them and this has worked well for us. The cats are comfortable at home in their usual environment, but the only downside is, at my house, they get bored! Asterix and Obelix often find the plastic bin with the food and open it up! My petsitter, therefore, has to spend some time playing with them to expend some of that energy. This year, I am considering boarding them at a facility, which means they are outside of their usual environment, but I am not depending on my friends’ time.

So whatever you do for this Christmas vacation coming up make sure that you and your pet are comfortable during your travels. If you have any questions about what is best for you and your pet don’t hesitate to give us a call. Have happy holidays!

Written by Dr. Marianne Parent

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