Thanksgiving week is here, which means if you’re like most Americans, you’ll be traveling to gather and feast with family and friends. In many cases, this includes bringing our pets on the Thanksgiving trek.  Since our furry friends are beloved members of our family, it’s natural to want them to share in the holiday fun!  However, many pets aren’t as excited about partaking in turkey day festivities as you might think.  Before heading out of town this week, read our tips for customizing the best travel plans for both you and your pets.

Over the river and through the woods…

Once you’ve decided that bringing your pet on the trip is the best idea (Sometimes it’s best and a lot less stressful for everyone involved if your pet stayed at a boarding facility or at home with a pet sitter.), schedule a wellness exam with your veterinarian.  Your veterinarian can confirm your pet is healthy for travel, ensure all neccessary vaccinations are up-to-date and issue a health certificate.  Health certificates and proof of rabies vaccination are required when traveling across state lines (something that many of us will most likely do if traveling out of and around the DMV).  If your pet gets sick during travel, your veterinarian can also prescribe anti-nausea mediation for the car ride.

In the event your pet becomes ill or injured on the trip, be prepared with a list of veterinary hospitals and 24-hour emergency facilities along the way and at your destination.  Once you’ve gotten your pet up-to-date at the vet, pack the following items (ideally, organized together in a bag):

Pet Dog Travel Packing List

Buckle Up!

When traveling by car, it is important that everyone is happy and comfortable.  Small dogs should be in a clean, well-ventilated carrier, and larger dogs should be restrained by pet barriers or harnesses. Without the proper restraint, pets can be a big distraction for the driver and risk injury or death to themselves in the event of an accident.

Plan for Potty Breaks

Once your trip is underway, be prepared for frequent stops, once every 2-3 hours.  During this time, pets can get a drink of water and a little exercise (It’s good for all of us to stretch our legs every few hours or so!).  Interstate rest areas are the best places to stop as they offer pet walking areas.  During stops, remember to keep your pet properly restrained on a short leash, away from other people, animals, busy parking lots, and thoroughfares.

Thanksgiving Pet Travel and Safety Tips

…to Grandmother’s house we go!

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, make sure you pooch is on their best behavior. Talk to your host on what they expect from pets in their home. Do they need to stay outside or in a separate room during the festivities?  Should you bring a travel crate for containment?  The more discussion and preparation you have beforehand, the less stressed everyone will be!

While your dog probably wants nothing more than to spend the day watching The National Dog Show, you should get them out in the fresh air for an extended walk, run, or game of fetch.  A tired dog will be a well-behaved dog, come dinner time!

Dog Thanksgiving TableAt the table, your furry friend may be in wide-eyed delight at the sight of a juicy bird and all the fixins’ but their bellies won’t be so thankful.  If your dog is behaving nicely around the feast, remind your dinner mates not to entice them or feed them from the table.

Many Thanskgiving dishes contain ingredients that can cause stomach upset, pancreatitis, and toxic poisoning in pets, even when given in small amounts.   Avoid feeding your pets the following foods:

  • Fatty skins and gravy
  • Garlic and onions
  • Sage and other herbs
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Chocolate
  • Dishes and desserts made with artificial sweetners.  (Many low or non-sugar baked goods, mints, and gums contain the sugar substitute xylitol.  Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs in very small doses).
  • Turkey Bones

Ideally, try to maintain your pet’s eating and walking routine.  Feeding them their regular diet and taking them out for potty breaks at their usual time will minimize the risk for stress-induced sickness or accidents.

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