TRAVELLING WITH PETS: HOW TO REACH YOUR DESTINATION SAFELY EVERY TIME
For many pet owners, their dogs and cats are like an extension of their family. This can often make it stressful for people to leave their animals behind, and as a result many people like to travel with their pet companions instead of leaving them at home. At first this prospect might seem like a daunting task, but travelling with your dog doesn’t have to be as stressful as it sounds.
There are some helpful guidelines to remember when travelling with your dog on the road, or in the sky. First, we’ll go over what you’ll want to know when going for a drive with your pet.
When you are going on a road trip and planning to bring your dog, the first thing you will need is a sturdy car harness. Simply restraining your dog will keep the animal from roaming around the car and getting underfoot, but a harness should prevent your dog from being thrown in the event of a collision or other accident. Even a “low speed” accident can often result in an unsecured dog being thrown through the windshield of a car at speeds of up to 20mph. A restrained dog is also much less likely to cause injury to the human driver and other potential passengers in the vehicle. You should also never leave your dog restrained in a hot car, and always make sure the animal has plenty of water to drink while travelling.
Using a harness should eliminate any concerns about the dog escaping from the car while stopped, but in the event of an escape or a “lost dog” situation, it will be important that you make sure your dog’s tags are current.
When choosing the correct harness for your dog, you’ll want to make sure that the garment can stand up to the abusive forces of a car accident, while keeping your dog’s body safe as well. Sleepypod is a company who can deliver that product. Their harnesses are the only brand of harnesses on the market to earn a five-star rating from the Center for Pet Safety, and to pass the Subaru crash test as well.
Sleepypod offers two options of harnesses. The first, the Clickit Sport, features something called an Infinity Loop design, which redistributes and reduces damaging physical forces that can cause injury to your dog, and works to reduce forward and lateral movement in the event of a collision. The Infinity Loop design also negates the need to use metal buckles to fasten your dog into their seat.
Sleepypod’s other option, called the Sleepypod Terrain, features a sturdy buckle closure and can also be used as a harness for walking. It also has the option of attaching a service dog patch to the harness. Both the Clickit Sport, and the Terrain harnesses are lightweight and easy to slip on and off your dog’s body. As well, they feature a durable ballistic nylon construction, and neoprene padding for your dog’s comfort, as well as reflective strips for high visibility.
Kurgo has also recently redesigned their Tru-Fit Smart Harness for enhanced strength. The new design features a special “double nesting” buckle system that is based on harnesses used by rock climbers, and linemen. The Tru-Fit harness tethers to your seatbelt, and is adjustable so that your dog may sit or stand. Like the Terrain from SleepyPod, this harness can also be used as a walking harness.
If a harness does not feel like enough protection, if your dog is especially small, or if your dog is particularly rambunctious in the car, SleepyPod also makes three varieties of carrier for your dog.
The Luxury Pet Carrier from SleepyPod is made from durable luggage grade nylon material, and features ultra plush inner cushions made from polyester for your dog’s comfort. The inner cushioning is water resistant to protect against accidents, and is also washable for better protection against odor over long-term use. It also features a mesh dome top so you can see your pet, as well as a handle for easy transport. There is also a cushioned shoulder strap for hands-free carrying if necessary.
The Mini size of this carrier from SleepyPod is also TSA certified for air travel and will fit animals up to 7lbs. However because 17” x 13.5” is deemed too large, the Regular size is not TSA approved.
When travelling by air with your dog, a harness is optional, however a TSA certified dog carrier is not.
An approved carrier will look something like this:
- It will be big enough for your dog to move around comfortably in the carrier.
- It will be well vented.
- TSA Guidelines stipulate that 14% of the carrier must contain openings for the animal to breathe through, and that 33% of those openings must be located on the top of the carrier.
- The floor will be solid, and leak proof in case of an accident in transit.
- TSA also requires that the carrier have handles or grips so that employees do not have to put their hands or fingers inside the carrier and risk getting bitten.
- In fact, no part of the dog is allowed to be protruding from the carrier at any time.
The SleepyPod Atom is a TSA Approved carrier that fits underneath your seat, and is for dogs up to 8 lbs, as well as cats and other animals up to 12 lbs. For larger dogs up to 15 lbs and other TSA approved animals up to 18 lbs, SleepyPod offers the Air in-cabin carrier. Like the Atom, this carrier will also fit underneath your seat comfortably. Both the Atom, and the Air feature straps to fit the carrier securely in the seat next to you, and both can also be used as a car seat for your pet. For these reasons both carriers have been designed to meet the same safety standards as child safety devices. For ease of transport both models feature a convenient passthru pocket which allows you to secure the carriers to your luggage over the telescoping handle of your suitcase. Both designs provide plenty of ventilation for your pet, as the tops and sides are almost entirely constructed from see through mesh.
The Air features a special zipper design, which runs all the way around the perimeter of the pet carrier. This unique design allows you to collapse and stow the carrier when it is not in use, or is no longer needed. This larger carrier also features a durable, padded shoulder strap as well.
TSA also highly recommends getting your pet acclimated with their carrier a few weeks before planning to fly with them. This will ensure that your pet has had enough time to become comfortable with their carrier, and this will make the process of travelling through the airport, as well as being on the plane much less stressful for them and you. Taking your dog for a walk right before the flight will also help to calm their nerves during and after the flight.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that your pet has plenty of water to drink while travelling. However, keep in mind that your pet will not have many opportunities to relieve themselves until you reach your destination, so take opportunities to let your pet go when you have them. TSA also recommends feeding your pet right at 4 hours before the flight.
All of these guidelines, rules and regulations must seem like a lot of additional stress to be added to your pre-travel routine, but thankfully SleepyPod and Kurgo have taken much of the guesswork out of the painstaking process of choosing the perfect harness or carrier for your pet’s needs while travelling! A good harness or leash will help keep your companion from getting lost, and a sturdy carrier will not only help you feel secure when moving your animal friend from one place to another, but it will also give them a sense of security to have their own private space during travel. It’s almost like getting the whole row of airplane seats to yourself!
Just do your best to keep all of these things in mind, and you’ll be sure to reach your destination with your dog, or cat (or other TSA approved animal) safely in tow every time!