…a guide to traveling with small animals
Small pet transport
Travel can be a little unsettling for small pets as they can easily become stressed by all the unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells.
So before you set off on a journey with your little fluffball, it’s always worth considering whether the trip is really necessary. For instance, if you’re going on holiday is it possible to have a friend or family member call round to check-in on your pet so they can remain at home where they’re more likely to feel safe and relaxed in familiar surroundings?
And if a situation arises where transporting your small pet is unavoidable- for instance if your pet needs to visit the vets- it’s important to think about things you can do to keep the journey as stress-free as possible.
Steps to minimise stress
- Provide comfortable bedding
Providing soft bedding and hay in your pet’s transport carrier will mean that they can hide and snuggle-up, helping them to feel safe and secure.
- Plan regular breaks
It’s also worth scheduling in regular comfort breaks during your journey, as this will give you a chance to properly check in on your pet and will also give them a rest from travelling.
- Give constant access to food and water
It’s really important that your pet has access to food and water when they’re travelling, as this will help to prevent them becoming hungry and dehydrated. And be sure to offer food to your pet right before they travel to make sure they don’t go for a long period without eating.
- Bring a friend
If your small pet lives with a companion, consider bringing them along so your pets are able to travel together, as most small pets find it comforting to travel in pairs. It’s also important to make sure there’s enough space for all animals that are travelling, for example, if you’re transporting two rabbits together there should be enough space for them to lie down side by side during the journey.
Here are some important steps to make sure your small pet is safe and sound throughout your journey:
- Make sure they’re secure. Before you leave it’s also important to ensure that your pet is secure and happy in their carrier. Check that the carrier doors are locked and that your pet is in a comfortable, safe position (most animals will normally lie or sit up towards the back of the carrier). If possible, it’s also a good idea to try and strap your pet carrier securely onto the seat with a seatbelt. And if you have a passenger who is able to watch your pet during the drive this is ideal! Otherwise you will need to take regular breaks to check on your small furry.
- Remove large objects. Make sure that any heavy or large objects are removed from your pet travel carrier. This can include ceramic food/water bowls, wooden blocks and hidey-holes, as these can be really dangerous for small pets as they may cause injury to your pet during travel, for example, they may be thrown around if you have to stop the car suddenly.
- Avoid very hot or cold weather. Also try to avoid travelling with your pet on very cold or very hot days as small furries can be particularly susceptible to temperature changes. If you do find yourself having to travel with your pet when it’s hot, access to water is even more essential to help avoid dehydration. Always place your pet’s carrier in the shade, and you can also try placing a frozen water bottle filled with ice cold water wrapped in a towel so your pet is able to keep themselves cool- but if you do this always be sure to keep a close eye on your pet throughout your journey to make sure they don’t get too cold!
- Never leave your pet unsupervised. Even on days where the weather is cool, you should never leave your pet in the car alone as the car windows can act like a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s rays and causing your pet to overheat.
Choosing an appropriate carrier
Always ensure that your small pet is travelling in a secure carrier that has been made especially for transporting small pets, as this will prevent your pet from escaping. For example, the best hamster travel cage will ideally be made of a secure material such as pet-safe plastic, as this will prevent them from having a gnaw or chewing their carrier to try and escape.
While it’s important that the walls of your carrier are sturdy, it’s also vital that they allow sufficient ventilation, as this will help to regulate your pet’s temperature and will also allow fresh air to enter your pet’s carrier.
Make sure that the carrier your small pet travels in isn’t too big for them as this may cause them to feel exposed and they may also slide around during travel and hurt themselves. And avoid very small carriers, as this may make your pet feel confined and they may hurt themselves in an inadequate space.
It’s also important to line your travel carrier with newspaper to help to soak up any accidents during your pet’s journey!
Rabbit travel kit
And to make travelling with your small pet even easier, here’s a simple checklist to make sure you have everything they need for their journey:
- Carrier suitable for rabbits/ other small pet
- Food and water
- Water dispenser
- Food bowls
- Iced water bottle and towel if weather is hot
- Hay or soft bedding, and blankets for them to hide in
- Any medications that your pet needs
- Paper towels for any accidental mess!