Our pets are family members, as such when we travel for the holidays we want them to travel with us. There are a myriad of pet-friendly lodging options available. Airlines allow travel with pets as long as you meet the specific rules of that particular airline. The families and friends with whom we will be visiting probably have their own fur babies and will welcome yours as well!
Traversing from your home to the location you will be spending the holidays requires planning and preparation, especially if you’re traveling with your dogs and/or cats.
We spoke with Aparna Srinivasan, founder of SpotOn. She created a service — an app — that helps with safe transport for humans and their furbabies. It’s Uber with a pet-friendly twist.
She created SpotOn out of “pure necessity and selfishness,” she shared. “I had two dogs, a ninety-pound lab and a fifty-pound Sharpei mix and taking my boys around town was difficult especially if I wasn’t driving myself,” she said. “It cost me more than $350 for a car service to take the three of us six miles to get to the airport.”
How To Travel Safely With Your Dog This Holiday
After that, she knew something had to change, but Aparna said she needed to make sure she wasn’t creating a solution to something that truly wasn’t a problem. “I spent a considerable amount of time standing outside of LAX (airport in Los Angeles, CA) and talked with people I saw who had their pets with them. Almost every person I talked with had the same pain points as I did — it was difficult to find a ride with another ride-hailing service like Lyft or Uber.”
She thought there had to be an easier and more convenient way for pet parents and their pets to get around and SpotOn was launched. Aparna said that some Lyft or Uber drivers will, grudgingly, take a passenger with a pet. They don’t have to and sometimes, she said, the driver doesn’t have the patience to deal with how much longer it might take a pet parent to gather themselves and their pets for the trip.
Dog and cat travel safety is something Aparna said pet parents need to be aware of. “We looked at the way people travel with pets in a car and one thing we found is that a lot of people don’t put their dogs in a safety harness or their smaller animals in a car carrier that is attached to a seatbelt. If you have children, the first thing you’d do is buckle them in but with a furbaby many people don’t.”
Having your pet safely harnessed and buckled in is not only safe for your dog, it’s safe for the driver. “If there is an accident your dog could become a projectile and not only will he be injured, but you might be injured as well,” she said. “I also think that dogs are calmer in a car when they are in a safety harness – it’s like they are being given a hug. Riding in a safety harness provides both emotional and safety measures.”
When a pet parent calls or uses the SpotOn app (which can be downloaded at the Apple app store and Google Play) for a ride originating in NYC (the service operates in NYC only at this point, but is expanding to San Francisco soon) the driver of the vehicle is supplied with dog safety harnesses and seat covers to protect their vehicles. Aparna said even though the rides must originate in New York City and its five boroughs a pet parent could request a ride that would take them to San Francisco, for example.
Other pet travel safety tips include:
- Having your pet’s medical records with you. If there is an accident or an emergency with your pet you need to be able to give the emergency veterinarian the pet’s records so he can be treated properly, she said.
- Take any of your pet’s medication with you.
- When you travel take your pet’s food from home. Don’t switch her diet on a road trip or you could be dealing with a dog or cat with an upset tummy and on a road trip, no one wants that!
- Check for accommodations along the trip route before you set out. You don’t want to be scrambling to find a place to sleep because it’s difficult to find pet-welcoming accommodations.
- To keep your dogs calm on a road trip, consider setting up your tablet or phone and turning on DOGTV. The sights and sounds of the programming will help keep them calm while you’re traveling. Sign up for a FREE trial of DOGTV for your next trip.
- Bring their favorite toy or bed. A familiar item will help keep them calmer when traveling.
- Carry emergency supplies and a pet first aid kit in your car.
- Bring water and water bowls.
- Don’t forget to bring poo bags for those roadside stops to answer the call of nature.
What measures do you take when you travel with your dogs and/or cats? We would love to know. Share them in the comments below!