There will typically always be an occasion that you’ll need to travel with your pet – maybe you’re moving house, taking them to the vet or dropping them off at a cattery or kennel if you’re going on holiday. Some people may travel with their pet more regularly to take them on walks or other trips away from home.
Even if your pet loves to travel, it can be helpful to know what is and isn’t safe when taking them in a vehicle. Here are three times when you may need to consider the pros and cons of travelling with your pet, and when to avoid taking them away from home.
If possible, we would recommend avoiding travelling with your pet if they’re unwell, although it does depend on the illness, as you may need to take them to the vets. Many animals hide pain instinctively as a defensive mechanism, so trust your instincts. For anything ongoing or serious, your vet will be able to give you advice for your pet’s specific condition.
However, if the illness is minor, it may be best to speak to a vet over the phone and avoid moving your pet unless it’s not absolutely necessary. Travelling can be stressful for animals and it could potentially make their condition worse or cause new symptoms. It’s fairly common for pets to experience motion sickness too, which when combined with their existing illness could lead to dehydration.
If your pet is pregnant or has recently given birth, it’s safer not to travel with them. Like humans, stress can be harmful to the development of unborn animals and could even cause early labour. Your pet will also be more vulnerable to diseases when pregnant, which makes travelling to new environments with new bacteria particularly dangerous.
If you absolutely must travel with them, limit their exposure to dirt or debris as much as is possible. For cats, this may include brushing them more regularly, and ensuring they stay inside a crate whilst travelling between places. Meanwhile you should prevent dogs from putting their heads out of the windows when driving, as they are particularly at risk of picking up an injury or an infection from dirt, dust and debris entering their eyes and mouths.
Newborn animals are extremely vulnerable. As they haven’t had much exposure to new environments or bacteria, their immune systems are immature. This leaves them susceptible to infection, especially before they have their vaccinations. Whilst it may be inevitable for them to travel in order to get to their initial vet appointments, it’s wise to avoid travelling to anywhere other than those essential visits.
If you absolutely must travel with your animal under these circumstances, it’s important to keep a close eye on them and to be prepared. Make sure to bring any medication they’re taking, a copy of their medical records and a list of emergency numbers. These could be your usual veterinary practice as well as an emergency vet in the area you’re travelling to, to ensure all bases are covered. You could also bring a pet first aid kit containing emergency supplies to treat your pet until you’re able to get to the vet. If your pet is feeling unwell, be aware that they may vomit in the vehicle so be sure to bring old towels and water.
If you notice the condition of your pet worsening or changing, take a break from your journey and speak to a vet as soon as possible. They will be able to advise you what the best course of action is, and whether that means turning around and heading home or continuing on your journey, it’s important to do what is best for your pet.