How to Keep Your Pets Hydrated During Travel
There are several factors to consider when assuring safe pet travel. These include proper kennel size, adequate ventilation, the correct bedding material, and last but not least, proper hydration. When pets travel, especially during warm weather, hydration becomes critical. Not only does this assure that your dog or cat’s internal physiology continues to function normally, but also helps to keep the body cool. With dehydration comes increased body temperature possibly leading to heat stress or in worst case scenarios heat stroke and death.
Fortunately there are several things you can do to assure that your pet stays adequately hydrated during travel:
Make sure your dog, cat, or other pet has access to plenty of fresh clean water right up to the point of departure. Staying adequately watered for several days before transit will help to assure that they are off to the right start by being maximally hydrated at the start of their journey.
For pets that suffer from conditions that result in increased water loss, such as kidney disease, provide an increased frequency of subcutaneous fluid administration in the days leading up to their journey with the last one optimally timed about 8-12 hours before departure. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian about your pet’s specific condition and make sure that an increased fluid administration schedule won’t harm your pet. This could pose a threat to pets with concurrent heart disease, however, these pets are not likely fit for travel to begin with.
Travel Crate Preparation
All travel kennels should have 2 water cups affixed on the inside of the front gate. One of these is technically for food, but unless the transit is especially long most pets shouldn’t be fed during transit. An extra water bowl, however, will assure that they don’t run out of water during flight. Spill Proof Water Bowls by DryFur are the best choice as they keep water from splashing out during crate handling keeping your pet dry as well.
Freeze the Water
Fill the water cups about 3/4 full and freeze them overnight. Take them to the airport in a small cooler with an ice pack to keep them frozen and affix them to the kennel right before tendering to the airline. This will allow for a slow thaw further reducing the risk of spillage and providing cool water throughout most of the flight.
People traveling with their pets frequently ask me if they should affix a water bottle in the kennel for air travel. My answer is generally “No.” While it seems like seems like it would be a good idea providing a larger source of water, it usually turns out differently. Many of the airlines will not allow a bottle to be attached to the outside of the kennel, or in some cases on the inside. The ball mechanism in the tip of the spout frequently drips or even breaks allowing all of the water to come out drenching the bedding and pet. Even during warm weather small pets could get chilled from being wet during transit. If you follow the advice given above with the right water cups and freezing them a water bottle shouldn’t be needed and avoiding their use will avoid the complications that come with them.
Travel kennels should be adequately ventilated on all four sides. Proper air flow will assure that your pet stays cool during travel and reduce their water intake needs.
Even pets that have an adequate water supply during travel may not drink due to anxiety or individual preferences. Because of this it is important to offer a new clean bowl of water upon arrival. Don’t be alarmed if your pet gulps down half a bowl. Just like people, every pet has an individual personality and some choose not to drink during travel. If you have a pet that gets subcutaneous fluids mentioned above another administration may be warranted after you get settled.
Do you have any other tips for people traveling with their pets? Let me know.