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5 Ways To Keep Your Pet Calm While Traveling

Published on: October 26, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

Husky relaxing at lakeYou adore your dog. Or your cat. You can’t imagine leaving home without them. No wonder more and more pet owners are taking their pets along when they go on vacation, as well as when they move. But traveling with pets can be a tricky business. Often it’s a toss-up who suffers more from pet travel stress – you or your four-legged love.Thankfully there are a number of things you can do to keep your pet calm while traveling.  

#1 - Think Zen: project calm yourself

If you ignore everything else you read here, don’t ignore this. Your cat may think she’s the leader of her universe, but pets actually take cues from you. If you’re concerned, worried, stressed out, or apologetic, your pet will pick up on it and reflect it right back. Now everyone’s suffering from pet travel stress. Instead, be positive and upbeat about their upcoming adventure, and your pet will handle everything better.

#2 - Plan ahead

Why add to everyone’s stress by leaving important details to the last minute? Organize yourself early, then you’ll be able to smoothly move through your to-do list, proudly (and calmly) checking things off. No worries, all is under control.

If you’re moving house, especially to a foreign country, early preparation is critical. You’ll need to learn pet import rules and local pet etiquette expectations. Every country has its own set of requirements for bringing your cat or dog with you (see #3 below). Every airline has different pet policies that dictate where they can ride, what breeds are accepted, what the temperatures must be, etc. You’ll need to make advance reservations for your pet, whether they will ride with you in the cabin or in the plane's cargo hold.

And speaking of riding, pets traveling by plane must be in an airline-approved carrier. The sooner you acquire the travel kennel so your cat or dog can get used to it, the better. Introduce it to them as a fun new place to sniff, play or snooze, and let them work up to being inside with the door closed. Traveling in their own “home” will be much less stressful. 

#3 - Act normal

Routine is comforting to pets. And they have outstanding change detectors. So amid the inevitable changes of preparing for vacation or the outright chaos of an international move, your pet will automatically feel anxious. What’s going on around here? Where’s my stuff? Am I being abandoned? 

You can allay their fears (and avoid the acting out that comes from worry) by maintaining daily routines. That includes where and when you feed your pet, where they sleep, etc. Don’t neglect play time either – in fact, it’s a good idea to spend more time with your pet, to reassure them you’ll still be together, in spite of change. Pack their belongings last, and take along a favorite toy in your luggage. That way, they’ll have something familiar in their new surroundings. (Don’t put that toy in their travel crate, though, that’s not allowed.)

#4 - Visit the vet

You’ll be more relaxed knowing your pet is healthy enough for travel. And if you’re headed out of the country, you’ll need the proper documentation to comply with your destination's pet travel requirements. It can take weeks or months to follow the health requirements so planning ahead is extremely important.

By the way, if your pet takes medicine for a chronic condition, take along enough to cover your travel time. Once you arrive, you'll be able to get whatever medications your cat or dog needs, even if you’re headed to another country. Pet love and vet clinics are global.

And speaking of medications, sedatives and tranquilizers are not allowed for pets traveling by plane. Pets are most comfortable when they have their wits about them, and drugs can actually harm your pet. You can talk with your vet about alternative and safer calming products.

#5 - Try to remain calm

The only way you can pull off Tip #1 above – projecting calm – is to actually be relaxed. We understand that you have a lot on your mind, especially if your potential pet travel stress is due to an international move. You have to be fully prepared, and timing is everything. But be sure to take “time outs” as needed to keep your personal sanity and perspective.

There’s one sure way to relax: call us before you become frazzled. Starwood has a great team of experienced pet travel experts. We’ve worked for many years with airlines and countries in every corner of the world. We know the rules - and who is the most pet-friendly. In short, we can handle every detail of your pet’s trip. Ahhhhhhh. That’s more like it. No pet travel stress in your family.

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