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Family vacations with pets: pawesome or pawful?

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Summer is upon us  and we are planning our summer holidays. We can’t forget our pets when planning our summer holidays!

What shall we do with them? Better to take them with us, leave them at the pet hotel or get a pet sitter? Only you and your best friend can answer that question.

Does the place you’re going to accepts animals? Is your pet comfortable with traveling? Do your pets cope well with staying in a strange place with other pets? Or are they used to being alone in their own territory? After answering all these questions, look for the best option. Some pets don’t cope well with changes in their routine so planning some time ahead is the best option.

Take them or leave them?

If you decide not to take your pets with you, make sure they get used to the place and the people they are staying with beforehand. Leaving your pet in the pet hotel for a day or getting the pet sitter to visit your home while you are there allows you to see how they react.

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If your decision is to take your pet with you don’t forget to check all the legal requirements needed in advance. This is important not only if you travel abroad but even in your own country! Your vet can surely help you with some legal questions but bear in mind that some paperwork may take some time to sort out.

You might also have to work on your pet’s luggage. A pet carrier, seatbelt or car dog guard will be necessary, along with bowls for food and water, toys, eventually some first aid kit and local vet’s phone. Emergency contacts and local clinics can be found on the Petable App. If you don’t already have your pet’s profile, make sure to download before going on vacation. If your pet is very fearful of traveling or has motion sickness – talk to your vet, maybe some training or medication will help.

And last but not least, getting your pets used to whatever transport method you are going to take them on. This should be done ASAP, from day one if possible. If you have a puppy or a kitten take them on small trips by car, train, boat and whatever other transportation you can. If you haven’t done it before – start now!

Small dogs and cats should first be trained to get into the pet carrier. Training should be done only a few minutes per day.

Pet carrier – getting used to it is key

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Photo credit Rob Marquardt

Start by getting them used to stay down on a blanket on the floor using treats or a toy. Once they can do it put the blanket on the bottom of the pet carrier, without its cover. Make them enter the bottom of the pet carrier and turn round so that they can stay down looking towards the carrier door. To achieve this, you can lure them in with a treat and a reward after. The next step is to put the cover on the pet carrier and repeat the process.

Before putting the door on the carrier, you should separately get your pet used to get treats through it outside the carrier. This can be done simply by having them stay down on the floor and giving rewards through the carrier door while you hold the door in front of him.

Then you can put the door on the carrier and repeat the training inside of the carrier. If your pet can stay inside for a few moments start to close the door, a few seconds at a time.

To mimic the motion of handling the carrier put a folded-up blanket under the carrier and repeat the previous process. Once your pet achieves all this stress-free, introduce the car.

Getting the pet used to the car is a must for almost all pets. If you are not using a pet carrier you can start with the same training method to get the pet into the car. The next step is keep them calmly in for a few moments as you get the car started. Once this is achieved start taking small rides and little by little increase the length of the rides. The training in the car is best achieved if you have someone to drive as you reward your pet or using food toys that can keep the pet distracted for a few minutes. Make sure your pet is used to the toys in advance.

Once you have all this covered relax and enjoy your holidays…I’m sure your pet will do the same!

Author: Marta Vieira, DVM

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