Don't forget about your pets when buying travel insurance

Many people these days are bringing a pet when traveling south for the winter. Having your best friend with you can make a long trip much more enjoyable. Plus, you wouldn’t want your precious pooch freezing his tail off or cooped-up inside while you’re living it up in the great outdoors in beautiful weather.  For those of you who do bring a dog or even a cat with you, you should take a moment when buying travel insurance to check out your policy’s pet return benefit. Most, but not all policies contain a provision that pays for your pet’s safe return home in the event that something happens to you. It’s an added benefit that many people don’t know about, so if you’re shopping for travel insurance, ask about the pet return benefit before you buy. If you’ve already purchased your insurance, check out your policy wording to find out if a pet return benefit is included.

Tips for travelling with pets by car

Don’t leave your pet alone in a car – A car can heat up very quickly. Even with a window cracked, the heat can rise enough within 30 minutes to cause irreversible organ damage or even death. Unattended pets left alone in a car can also be targeted by thieves. Take your pets out with you, or if you must leave them in the car, make sure to leave with air conditioning on.

Make plenty of rest stops – Take frequent breaks to let your pet out to exercise and go to the bathroom. Make sure that they are wearing a collar with ID tags and use a leash.

Put your pet in the back seat – An airbag deployed on the front passenger seat could injure your pet, even if they are in a carrier.

Don’t let them stick their head out of the window – A dog sticking its head out of a moving vehicle can be injured by flying debris, or made sick by having cold air forced into their lungs.

Bring a buddy – If you’ve got someone to help with caring for your pet on your trip, you can use the washroom or buy food knowing you’ve got someone there keeping your pet safe.

Put your cat in a carrier – Cats don’t like riding in cars. Keep them in a carrier for their safety and your own. Make sure to restrain the carrier with a seat belt.

Travelling by plane

For information about travelling with pets by airplane check out some of the links below.

Government of Canada, Travelling with animals – Has good tips for getting through airport security with your pet.

Check with your airline for their specific policies regarding pets -  WestJet and Air Canada

How stuff works: 5 Tips for flying with your pet - Good general tips.