When planning a trip out of town, it’s easy to assume you should leave your small pet with a sitter. Actually, in many cases, small animals can come right along for the trip – with many benefits for both owner and pets. This can be particularly beneficial for small pets with special medical needs or a strong attachment to their owner.
Packing for your Pet
There are some logistics to consider before bringing small pets on vacation. Most everyday cages are too large for travel, and carriers used to shuttle them to and from the vet, say, are typically too small for the duration of a vacation. A happy medium is a travel cage, at least twice as long as the animal’s body to allow for comfortable movement. Ensure the cage is chew-proof, because even a pet that isn’t a big chewer at home may try to escape an unfamiliar cage in an unfamiliar environment. Cages need a sun shade to protect pets from overheating in the car, even during cold weather.
Don’t forget your pet’s usual food, bedding, and extra water; having your pet’s own travel bag may seem a bit excessive, but it’s important that they have all the familiarities of home to avoid stress. An insulated bag suitable for carrying fresh fruits and vegetables can be a good idea to ensure pets have food they are used to and do well with. A smaller food dish and water bottle than are used at home will reduce the weight and increase the useable surface area of the cage. Be sure to look for a bottle that has a lever-type sipper tube, as a ball bearing sipper tube will drip while in motion.
If you have an animal that needs mentally stimulating exercise, such as small rodents, include an exercise wheel in the cage where possible. A collapsible playpen can also give pets the opportunity to exercise in a safe environment during the trip.
Most importantly, do not forget a harness and leash with ID for pets such as rabbits and ferrets. Make sure your pet is securely caged or harnessed before opening the door of the car or hotel room. Include your cell phone number as well as any pertinent medical information on their cage and ID badge. These simple steps will ensure your trip is memorable for the right reasons.
When driving a personal vehicle to a destination, taking small pets along is quite simple. Public transport has more limitations. Trains and buses generally don’t allow pets at all, even small pets in cages. Most airlines will allow a pet that is small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat, but double-check with your airline to ensure your species is allowed. For example, rats aren’t typically allowed in the cabin, and flying underneath the plane in the baggage area is not the best idea for any four-legged friend.
Traveling during warm weather can be more stressful for everyone, including small pets, as they don’t tolerate heat very well. Never leave a pet unattended in a vehicle, especially in the heat, even for a short amount of time. If you leave pets in their cages in a hotel room, put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to prevent them from being frightened or exposed to unfamiliar cleaning chemicals by hotel staff.
Of course, not all trips or destinations are appropriate and accessible for small pets; be sure to check with the laws of the locale, rules of the hotel, and consider your itinerary before committing to bringing small pets with you. It’s always a good idea to get the ok from your veterinarian before taking any pet on the road. Bring any veterinary or vaccination paperwork with you in case it is required at a hotel or rental, or if your pet experiences an emergency while on the road. Bon voyage!
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