NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Sixty-eight percent of American households own a pet, and when they go on a trip, their four-legged friends usually come along, too.
Dana Humphrey, also known as “the Pet Lady,” has some tips on how to ensure a safe and comfortable journey for everyone.
1. Bring a little bit of home with you. Going on long car rides and staying in hotels or in new spaces can be frightening, so the best way to help your dog is to bring something they love from home along for the ride. Their favorite blanket or bed along with their favorite toy should be just enough to help with their journey. Of course, if your dog is crate-trained, be sure to bring that as well.
“If you’re gonna be driving, it’s important to buckle up, so you can either have a hard-sized carrier or a soft carrier to strap them in so they can safely be in the back seat,” Humphrey said.
2. Be prepared! A few important things you should pack besides food and water include your pup’s vaccine records, a first-aid kit and a current picture of your pet. Don’t forget those poop bags either; they can also be used for clean-up if your dog gets sick in the car.
3. Safety first! Always leash your dog before they exit the vehicle. This is especially important in new surroundings, as a dog may become skittish to new sounds or sights and act out of character and run off or worse, get hurt.
4. Stretch those legs! As a general rule of thumb, every time you fill-up your gas tank, you should take your dog for a brief walk around the parking lot to stretch their legs and relieve themselves if needed. Aim for a short stretch at least once every three hours.
5. Have a dog with a nervous belly? Ginger root may help calm an unsettled stomach and is best given just before departure.
“Ginger root is a natural ingredient that you can just, you know, give them a little piece or maybe sneak it into a treat for them and it’ll just naturally kind of calm them down and keep their belly happy and healthy,” Humphrey said.
6. Forget something? If you have forgotten your pup’s food or thought you’d be able to purchase some at your destination only to find out they don’t carry your brand, buy a food with a similar ingredient list and also purchase some unsweetened, organic canned pumpkin. The fiber in the pumpkin may help avoid any digestive disturbances the new food may cause.
7. Enjoy yourself! Our dogs feel our stress and the best way to ensure everyone is comfortable and happy is to realize how lucky we are that we get to travel with our four-legged companions in the first place.
“They do pick up on our anxiety, so if you’re having road rage, they’re gonna notice it, so really try to keep your zen and keep your calm on the road. It’ll be a more pleasant ride for you and the people out there. Start the new year off with some nice calm driving skills and your pet will appreciate it and they’ll feel less anxious, too,” Humphrey said.