5 golden rules to follow when you travel with older pets
Your four-legged, furry friend has been by your side for many summers, and the two of you are hitting the road or sky for a well-deserved holiday. Whether it’s a short trip across cities or a longer trip across oceans, you need to take certain precautions for your older travel companion. Older dogs and cats tend to slow down and require extra care and attention when travelling.
Hazel Imrie, the managing director at PETport, a specialist pet travel and relocation service, shares her expert tips for travelling with your sweet senior dog or cat:
Visit your vet before you hop on that plane, car or train
If your pet is middle-aged (seven years for dogs, eight to ten for cats) or elderly, make sure they are fit for travel by taking them to the vet for a thorough check-up. Their physical health and emotional well-being are far more important than your desire to take them with you. Instead, follow the vet’s recommendations as well as your gut instincts as you know your pet better than anyone else.
Understand that pets are sticklers for routine
Just like humans, dogs and cats face more health and emotional challenges as they get older, and tend to be set in their ways. A change in routine can be tremendously stressful for pets, particularly older pets, who have an increased sensitivity to change. If your furry friend tends to get anxious or stressed, consider leaving them at home in a familiar and comfortable environment, tasking a relative or pet-sitter with taking care of them while you’re away.
Pay special attention to pets with arthritis
Thinking of treating your best friend to a holiday in the snow? Think again, especially if your pet suffers from arthritis. In cold and wet weather, your pet’s joints are likely to stiffen up, leading to more discomfort. Keeping your pet warm and moving (with low-impact exercise) is important if they do come along for the trip. Daytime flights and rides are another consideration to make if you’ll be travelling during the winter months.
Make arrangements for fussy eaters
Older pets are especially fussy about their food, so be sure to bring their favourite treats along. Pack their specialised food in plastic containers or bags for them to enjoy throughout the holiday – that way, you won’t need to worry if your destination doesn’t have the goods. Distilled water will also come in handy if your pet is sensitive to the local tap water. Don’t overfeed your pet before the trip. Feed them a light meal two hours before you leave.
Pack your pet’s favourite things
To help your elderly pet to feel cool, calm and collected during the journey, take their pet carrier, food and water bowls, blankets and toys – these familiar items will give your pet a sense of comfort on bumpy roads or plane rides, as well as help ease their transition into a brand-new, ‘scary’ place. Keep stress to a minimum by avoiding plane transfers and delays – book non-stop flights only – and steering clear of heavy traffic times like weekends and holidays. Carry your pet’s medication and supplements on you at all times for extra peace of mind.