28 07, 2020

Air Travel and COVID-19 – Will Pet Travel Change?

By |2020-07-28T08:02:31-06:00July 28th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

Air travel looks a bit different these days. As the United States enters another spike in COVID-19 cases, airlines are beginning to introduce additional safety plans to their regular operations. From not allowing passengers to sit in middle seats to requiring masks for all aboard the aircraft, commercial air travel is going to be a lot more spacious for quite a while.

But while air travel for humans is changing, pet travel is still functioning similarly to how it did in pre-pandemic times. Some airlines are changing things up a bit, but for the most part, you shouldn’t expect to see much – if any – difference when you bring Fido on your flight.

Still, it helps to hash out what airlines are specifically commenting on pet travel. Below, we’ve detailed the most prescient information we’ve been able to find, as well as what pandemic flying could do to the pet travel industry farther down the road.


What We Know

For the most part, it doesn’t seem that airlines are prioritizing pet travel changes when conceptualizing their COVID-19 policies. For example, carry-on pets, service dogs, and emotional support animals are still allowed to fly in the cabin on American Airlines if they meet the airline’s requirements. Commercial airlines see a lot of animals traveling, but with fewer people in the cabin, there are fewer animals overall in the air.

If anything, fewer passengers in the cabin will be more accommodating to animals. With additional space between each passenger, perhaps maximum height and weight requirements will shift a few months down the road. And, with nobody occupying the middle seat, maybe your service dog will finally get his own chair for the duration of the flight.


Changes to Pet Travel Services

While commercial airline pet policies aren’t changing much, services designated for pet travel, like Happy Tails Travel, look a bit different. The company has been developing a model for private, customized ground travel for animals throughout the contiguous United States. Citing the “unprecedented” demand for an alternative to air travel, the company is expanding its operations to include these ground transport options. We wouldn’t be surprised to see more businesses moving in this direction going forward. Pet parents understand the risks of flying during the pandemic, and they’re looking for cost-effective alternatives.


Looking Forward for Pet Travel

The COVID-19 contingency plans developed and published by airlines are temporary. We don’t know much about the decision making happening in the board rooms, and we don’t know when these measures will be lifted. In all honesty, we expect them to lift before it’s safe to do so. But, for now, when there are fewer people in the air, more safety measures practiced on flights, and more space between passengers, it seems like it’s a surprisingly good time to travel with a pet. That said, check back in a few months. Prevention fatigue is real, and even the most well-meaning airlines will ease up on their safety measures eventually.

In the distant future, depending on how long the pandemic lasts, COVID-19 precautions may change the way we fly. The United States revamped its entire flight security process in the wake of the 2001 attacks. Who’s to say something like that won’t happen in a post-coronavirus world? If, when all of this is over, airlines continue to prioritize passenger safety – including the safety of their furry friends – air travel will look a lot different in 2030 than it does in 2020.

22 06, 2020

How to Go Back to Work with a New Pet at Home

By |2020-06-22T10:49:48-06:00June 22nd, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

It’s no secret: Pet adoption is a quarantine trend. These adoptions have been so popular during the coronavirus pandemic that some shelters have been completely cleared of their cats and dogs. With lots of time, few opportunities to hang out with others, and an increasing need to justify going outside, people around the world are settling into life with a new furry friend.

However, as coronavirus-related restrictions begin to lift, some pet owners are trying to navigate the transition from work-from-home to in-office schedules. The sudden change can be traumatic for new pets, especially those with troubled pasts. If you’re wondering how to best help your dog through this tough transitional period, we have a few tips to share.


Tips for Transitioning Back to Working from the Office

Most experts agree that transitioning into working from an office will be a lot easier on cats than it will be on dogs. That said, here are some tips that broadly apply to all sorts of animals – whether you’ve adopted a cat, a dog, a bird, or anything in between.

  • Move slowly. Slowly start to leave your pet at home alone for a few hours at a time. This can help prepare them for the longer stretches of loneliness they are likely to experience.
  • Have your schedule down. Many animals respond well to structure. Even if you’re not working from the office yet, begin to set a schedule that will resemble your day when you return to work. This means waking up early for walks, having extended periods of time separated from the animal within the house, and afternoon/evening walks at the same time every day. If you begin working from the office for only a few days each week, make sure you arrive home at the same time every day.
  • Monitor their food intake. Animals are spending more time with their humans these days, which means they’re probably more active than usual. This means they’re likely eating more food. As you transition back to work, try to ensure you don’t over-feed your animal.
  • Figure out your care plan. Many animals – dogs, specifically – will need a mid-day walk, or at least some outside time in the early afternoon. If you’re a new pet owner, you might not yet have relationships in place to address this need. If you know your work requires you to be out of the house for most of the day, hire a dog walker to make sure Fido gets outside at least once during work hours.


How to Train Your Dog for Travel

Safe recreational air travel is still several weeks, if not months, away, but we know many new pet parents are eager to start exploring the world with their pups. Luckily, there are a few ways new pet owners can prepare their pets for travel – without even purchasing a plane ticket.

  • Work on kennel training. Kennel training involves teaching your dog to see their crate as a safe space. Often, a familiar space will provide a lot of comfort for dogs in otherwise unfamiliar settings. Kennel training can take weeks, so start now.
  • Make sure your pup is potty trained. Adopted puppies might still be new to this whole peeing outside Airlines will be quick to dismiss your dog if they misbehave, so make sure your dog is properly potty trained before buying any tickets.
  • Go for a long drive. If you have a car, take your dog on an extended drive in the next few weeks. This can help simulate the experience of being on an airplane. Estimate how much time they’ll need to go without using the restroom (the duration of the flight plus the time it takes to go through security) and make your drive at least that long.
14 05, 2020

Why Are Miniature Horses Allowed on Planes?

By |2020-04-13T10:09:33-06:00May 14th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

When the Department of Transportation released its 28-page proposal to limit the types of animals allowed on planes, it highlighted three species that would be allowed. The first two were obvious choices: cats and dogs. The third? Miniature horses.

The document often includes miniature horses as a “commonly recognized service animal.” This, surprisingly, is true. While service horses continue to be a rare sight on planes, especially when compared to cats and dogs, they are a popular choice of service animal. But why?

Why Miniature Horses are Used as Service Animals

As it turns out, horses can perform the tasks often required of service dogs – often to a better and more effective end. For example, guide horses are a popular choice among blind people. They are fast learners and have mild personalities. Plus, horses, unlike dogs, have nearly 360-degree vision, and they may be able to offer balance support to people who may also need help with a physical disability. This makes them a very attractive choice.

Longer lifespans also make horses a popular service animal pick. Service dogs may be able to serve for between 8 and 10 years, but miniature horses can live for up to 40 years. This minimizes the number of hours trainers need to spend on individual horses while providing a person with disabilities a near life-long companion.

Service horses are also great for travel. They are small enough to be transported in a hatch-back car, and they can be trained to defecate into a plastic bag. That said, airlines continue to squeeze as many people as possible into airplanes, dramatically reducing the amount of space between rows of seats. This poses a challenge to passengers traveling with service horses. In some cases, these passengers may be required to upgrade to business class to provide room for their animals.

Looking Forward: Will We Still See Miniature Horses on Planes?

Many people with disabilities who use service horses hope that the Department of Transportation regulations streamline their travel experiences. People typically call the airline to let them know they will be traveling with a horse, but often, airlines respond that there is no room for the furry friend. Horse users hope the proposed rules would discourage this behavior, as horses would be recognized as an official service animal option.

A growing number of emotional support animals have emerged in recent years, including rabbits, peacocks, and monkeys. But horses have been popular for decades, and they will likely remain popular for decades to come.


28 04, 2020

How to Safely Transport Your Pet to the Vet

By |2020-04-13T10:21:24-06:00April 28th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

Image provided courtesy of the Indianapolis Star.

As novel coronavirus spreads around the world, lives are changing with increasing frequency and severity. Still, pets get sick, dogs eat things they shouldn’t eat, and animal hospitals continue to be an essential service. If you find yourself needing to visit the veterinarian in the next few months, you may be wondering how to safely transport your pet to the animal hospital. Below, we’ve outlined the benefits and disadvantages of several transportation options, depending on where you live, transit accessibility, and budget.  

Drive Your Pet to the Hospital  

As always, driving your pet to the animal hospital is the safest option. You nearly eliminate the risk of exposing yourself or others to the virus, and you can ride in the comfort of your own vehicle. If you have the resources, this is the best way to safely transport your pet to the vet. If you have a close friend or family member who owns a car, consider asking them for a ride or to borrow the vehicle for a few hours.  

Rideshare Options and Public Transportation 

Uber and Lyft are still widely available transportation options in urban areas, but you’ll want to take additional precautions when getting into a car. If you have the equipment, wear a mask and gloves, then wash your hands thoroughly both before and after stepping into the vehicle. However, pet parents should be prepared to spend a bit more money than usual on a rideshare car. As fewer drivers are on the roads, there is an increased demand for private transportation, even though overall rides are down across the country. That means the drivers currently out can command a slightly higher price, as calculated by the Uber or Lyft algorithm. Additionally, if you take a rideshare car to the animal hospital, it is important to follow typical pet etiquette, such as contacting the driver prior to pickup and offering to cancel the ride if they are uncomfortable with animals in the care.  

Public transportation can be another option for pet parents low on cash or other options. If your pet is small enough to ride in a carry-on container, you can easily bring them aboard a bus or train. These services are seeing all-time low ridership numbers, which means you won’t have a problem staying at least six feet apart from other customers. As always, though, you should thoroughly clean your hands and your pet’s cage after riding, and consider wearing a mask and gloves to protect yourself and others. 

Call the Hospital to Request Transportation 

While uncommon, some animal hospitals are providing pick-up and drop-off services to clients in some parts of the country. This can be a safe and convenient method of getting your pup to and from the hospital for treatment. To see if your hospital is providing this service, call ahead before scheduling an appointment. In most cases, this service has been offered in dense urban centers, where most pet parents won’t have access to a personal vehicle.  

Understanding Your Pet’s Health 

The coronavirus outbreak has changed most of our lives, most drastically impacting the way we spend our time. Many people are now working from home and adapting to more flexible schedules. As stay-at-home orders and social distancing practices continue through the spring, some pet parents might see this as an opportunity to cross some items off their to-do lists. If you find yourself wanting to schedule Fido or Fluffy’s annual vet visit, however, we encourage you to hold off. 

In most states, animal hospitals are designated as “essential,” which means their employees will continue to provide necessary services to pet parents in need. However, most hospitals will only be completing emergency exams and surgeries, pushing elective surgeries and general check-ups later into the year. If, however, your veterinarian is continuing to see regular patients, and you’ve been meaning to get your pup in for their annual physical, stop to think about your options. Bringing your pet for an unnecessary visit has the potential to expose either yourself or the staff to the novel coronavirus. To that end, many animal hospitals, like those dealing with COVID-19, are running extremely low on personal protective equipment, like gloves and masks. The fewer reasons they have to use this equipment, the more safety they ensure when they actually need it.  

Of course, if your dog or cat is in danger – whether they’ve ingested something, aren’t behaving normally, or have an otherwise unusual symptom – go to the veterinarian. If you’re trying to schedule a dental appointment, think about holding off for a few months.  


15 04, 2020

Is Pet Grooming Essential in a Pandemic?

By |2020-04-13T10:07:09-06:00April 15th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

When you think of an “essential business,” pet care providers don’t typically come to mind. Sure, you’ll need to access pet food, but that’s available at most grocery stores. If you need medical services, your animal hospital will be available and ready to help. But what about other pet-related needs? Individual states are addressing veterinary services as they see fit, but one type of pet service has gained a lot of attention in recent weeks: pet grooming.

Pet grooming can be an essential part of a pet’s health, but it can also unnecessarily expose workers to risk – both medical and financial. Below, we’ve broken down the arguments for why pet groomers should remain open or close down. If you’re having trouble making your own decision on the matter, this will walk you through your options.

Argument: Why Pet Grooming is Essential

Depending on the type of pet you have, regular grooming could be an essential part of their health. Grooming helps maintain a healthy coat and skin, and regular nail trims can help to reinforce posture and healthy foot structure. Moreover, regular grooming visits can help pet parents catch health issues, like ear infections, skin infections, and tooth problems, without needing to visit a veterinarian. People advocating for this argument are creating online petitions to allow their pet salons to stay open.

Additionally, allowing pet grooming to be an essential service keeps more people employed, allowing workers to continue receiving a steady paycheck. Unemployment is becoming increasingly difficult to access as more of America’s work force is laid off or furloughed. If pet grooming businesses can stay in business, they can continue to pay their employees.

Argument: Why Pet Grooming is Non-Essential

Working with animals in the middle of a pandemic poses a range of challenges. Pets typically remain in proximity to their owners, and with more people working from home, people are cozying up to Fido and Fluffy a lot more than usual. If a pet’s owner has COVID-19, the virus could potentially live on the pet’s fur for an unidentified period. If a person with the novel coronavirus brings a pet to the groomer, they risk exposing the staff to the virus – even if the person does not enter the grooming facility.

Additionally, pet groomers say that the work they do, especially bathing and nail trimming, can be easily completed at home. These workers are typically paid minimum wage jobs and are not provided with the personal protective equipment necessary to remain safe during the pandemic. If they get sick, they won’t likely have the health insurance necessary to get tested or remain financially secure during coronavirus treatment. What’s more, most pet grooming services are provided by large companies who put profits over the health of workers, allowing few opportunities for employees to voice personal concerns. Companies are interpreting the language around essential business operations to remain open and generating revenue, potentially putting thousands of workers around the country at risk.

The Verdict

Like most conflicts amid the pandemic, the decision to allow pet grooming as an essential service – and your decision to take advantage of that service – is highly individualized. Pet groomers should do what they can to assess employee concerns and act accordingly, either closing their doors to protect workers or remaining open to continue financial support for employees.

Of course, this isn’t always possible or a high priority, especially for larger grooming providers. If your local pet groomers are scared for their safety, avoid using the service as much as possible. This decision may also depend on how many people in your community are infected with the coronavirus. If you live in New York City, pet grooming probably isn’t essential right now. If you live in Morgantown, WV, you might feel more comfortable about dropping Fido off at the groomer.

To that end, if you can go a couple of months without visiting a pet groomer, this is likely the best course of action. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on a local business to stay open if they don’t need to. If you’re looking for ways to support your groomer through the pandemic, consider buying a gift card to redeem later in the year.

Most importantly, do what you need to keep your pet healthy and ready to resume their duties as your travel companion later in the year. If grooming is truly a part of your pet’s health care, call your vet to see if your local animal hospital is providing any grooming services. The workers at these hospitals are typically provided the personal protective equipment necessary to stay safe.


26 03, 2020

Bringing Your Pet to Assisted Living: A How-To Guide

By |2020-03-26T21:54:10-06:00March 26th, 2020|Blog|0 Comments

Seniors have a lot of fears about assisted living. They worry they’ll be bored, lose their independence, or that their loved ones won’t visit. But while most assisted living misconceptions are unfounded, there’s one fear that persists: Seniors worry they’ll have to leave their pets behind when they move to assisted living. While it’s true that many assisted living facilities prohibit pets, it’s not a hard and fast rule. In fact, the number of pet-friendly assisted living communities is on the rise. Here’s how you can find the right one for you.

Step 1: Identify Pet-Friendly Assisted Living Communities

Fortunately, more assisted living communities than ever accept pets, but that doesn’t mean pet-friendly policies are guaranteed. Some communities prohibit pets outright, whereas others limit the type and number of pets allowed.

If you have a cat, fish, or small animal, you probably won’t have any trouble finding a community. However, many facilities restrict dogs based on size and breed. That doesn’t mean you should give up! To increase your chances of finding a dog-friendly community, broaden your geographical search area and consider getting your dog registered as a Canine Good Citizen.

Step 2: Decide What You Want in an Assisted Living Home

You, of course, want your future home to be pet-friendly. However, that’s not all you need to consider as you prepare for assisted living. Think about the type of care you need and how you prefer to live. Do you want a private apartment, lots of communal space, or a facility that specializes in memory care? Write a list of your must-have amenities so you can easily rule out communities that aren’t a good fit.

From there, schedule tours of assisted living communities that fit your criteria. While online research will give you the basics, it can’t tell you about a community’s ambiance. By scheduling a tour, you can see up close what each community has to offer.

Step 3: Prepare Your Pet for the Big Move

Once you’ve found the right community, it’s time to prepare for your move. Include these pet-related in steps in your moving to-do list:

  • Schedule necessary vaccinations.
  • Get a copy of your pet’s veterinary records.
  • Give your pet regular grooming as the date approaches.
  • Apply flea and tick preventative.
  • Buy a secure crate for moving your pet.

It may also help to invest in a few tools that can make it easier to care for your pet. For example, purchasing an extended pooper scooper for your dog will allow you to clean up messes without having to bend over too far. The same rings true for sifting litter boxes, which makes this task much easier while helping you save money on litter.

Also, don’t forget to make your pet comfortable in its new home! Recognize why and how moving is stressful for dogs and cats may be anxious after a move. To help them adjust to the situation, set up a quiet area with familiar furnishings like a pet bed and blanket that smells like home.

Step 4: Make the Most of Limited Space

Most assisted living apartments are compact. That’s great when it’s time for chores, but poses challenges for pets that need a lot of space. Cat owners can get creative with limited square footage by creating vertical, feline-friendly spaces and using furniture to hide the litter box in plain sight. Meanwhile, for dog owners living in small spaces, consider using a crate to give the dog its own space and dog-proof the living space by storing dangerous items up high.

No matter what type of pet you have, plenty of exercise and enrichment is the key to keeping it happy in a small home. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your pet’s exercise needs, don’t hesitate to call in reinforcements.

Step 5: Get Help Caring for Your Pet

Every pet owner needs an extra hand sometimes and seniors are no exception. Whether you need someone to pet sit during a hospital stay or a daily dog walker, it’s important to have a relationship with a trustworthy pet sitter. Some pet-friendly communities offer on-site pet care for an extra fee. If you hire a pet sitter online, make sure they’re licensed and bonded.

Mobile veterinarians and groomers also make life with pets easier. Instead of finding transportation to your pet’s appointments, the professionals can come to you.

Many seniors fear the day they have to give up their beloved pet, but with pet-friendly assisted living, that never has to happen. While finding a community that accepts you and your pet isn’t always easy, it’s worth bringing your companion along. Start your pet-friendly assisted living search today so you’re prepared when the time comes for the big move.

Image via Pexels

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