Which kind is your pet? The pooch who is the first one in the car when the door opens, or the kitty who runs to hide at the first hint of travel? Both kinds face dangers on the road, but there are steps you can take to protect them. Even the happiest traveler can get into trouble, and it can happen even on a short jaunt to the grocery store.
What can you do?
1. Always use ID tags. When traveling, add an extra tag with your cell phone number. If you don't use a cell phone, add the number of a trusted friend who will be at home while you're on the road.
2. If your pets are microchipped, be sure to call and update your address and phone number. If they aren't microchipped, consider having it done.
3. Keep your pet contained. The back of a pickup is NOT a safe place, but if your pet must travel there, either put him in a secure carrier, or cross tie him so there's no chance that he can fall or be thrown over the side. Falling from trucks is a major cause of lost and/or injured pets. Sometimes the fall is fatal. Also, remember that the temperature of your metal pickup bed corresponds to the weather. Use a liner so that you don't burn his feet, or freeze them!
4. While a few cats travel well in cars and stay put, they should ride in a carrier so they can't jump out when the door opens and can't suddenly decide to ride under the driver's feet or around his or her neck.
5. If at all possible, contain your dogs in a carrier inside the car. This is a safety precaution for both you and the dog.
6. Remember the heat factor. Don't take your pet if you'll have to stop for more than 5 minutes on a hot day. Temperatures inside your vehicle can reach killer heights in a matter of minutes. You love him?don't cook him! Cold weather holds a similar danger for your short haired friends.
7. Take water and a water dish! When you reach for a drink remember your pet probably needs one too.
8. When you stop for a potty break, keep your pet on a leash. Even the most well trained dog can become frightened and bolt. You don't want your best friend running in traffic, and you don't want him lost up a mountain side or wandering in a strange city.
9. Don't discount anxiety. For pets who don't like to ride, anxiety comes from the trip itself. Moving to a new home can cause emotional upset for ALL pets. Your vet can prescribe a sedative for extreme anxiety, and there are also homeopathic products to help calm their nerves. Check at your nearest pet store.
10. Plan ahead and be sure to take medical records on long trips or moves. If you're missing any vaccination certificates, ask your vet for copies. You may have to give proof of vaccinations if crossing state lines. If you're relocating, your new veterinarian will want to know your pet's medical history, when he had his last vaccinations, etc. Proof of rabies protection is vital at this time, because an emotionally distraught pet could bite. (Yes, even your dog who has never hurt a fly.) Without proof of a rabies vaccination the dog would have to be quarantined, if not put down.
Moving day is a dangerous time for your pets. Take these additional precautions:
Containment: Do NOT try to keep an eye on the dog and cat and the moving all at the same time. Doors will be opening constantly and no one can watch every minute.
If your new home has a secure fenced yard in an area where the movers (or the family) will not need to go back and forth, it could be a safe place, but check often. Stop occasionally to give a treat or throw a ball? let him know that this is an OK place and that you are nearby.
If you own a kennel cage, put it up first and put your dog inside until things settle down. Be sure to stop and talk to him now and then.
If you own kennels that your pets use for sleeping or riding, place them in the quietest room of the house and put your pets in them until the movers have left or everything is unloaded. Leave the cats in their travel carriers until you're sure the doors won't be opened by movers.
If you have no fenced yard and your dog is accustomed to staying home without one, be sure to go outside with him the first several days. If you must leave him outside alone, tie him on a long chain or cable tie. (Not a rope - they are too easily chewed.) You and the dog may hate the idea, but his safety is worth a few days of discomfort.
If your dog sees his role in life as protector, he or she will hate the movers being there and handling your belongings. Put him in the back bedroom or the yard where he can't see what's going on. Don't let him follow them back and forth, because this is a sure formula for disaster. You don't need your dog being lost or hurt, and you don't need to deal with your insurance over a dog bite. Remember, even the calmest dog WILL BITE if severely provoked.
Remember that moving to a new home is traumatic for your pets. After things settle down on moving day let them take a tour of the house, with you along acting relaxed and happy. Don't transmit your fatigue to your pets!
Understand that your housebroken friend may relapse at this time. If your new home was formerly occupied by other pets yours may feel a need to "mark" their territory. Not a pleasant thing, and not to be condoned, but don't go ballistic on them. If it appears that marking will be an ongoing problem you may have to shampoo the carpets with a special shampoo designed to kill the odors left by previous pets.
Marte Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter and co-founder of the Animal Rescue group in her hometown. She offers discounted rates for rescue groups needing fundraising letters and/or newsletters. You can visit her at www.marte-cliff.com