Friday, April 18, 2014

Car Travel for Dogs

Bringing your dog on your next road trip can certainly add to the fun, but you need to do some homework first and make sure you’re prepared for traveling with your furry friend. After all, cars weren’t necessarily designed with dogs in mind. However, by preparing ahead of time, you’ll be able to make vacationing with your dog a fun and relaxing time – for both you and your dog. Here are some pet travel tips to get you started in the right direction.

Schedule a visit to the vet beforehand to make sure your pet is healthy enough for travel. The last thing you want on a vacation is a sick pet. In case of an unforeseen emergency on the road, it would be good to obtain copies of your pet’s medical records while you’re at the vet’s office. Also, if you’ll be traveling across state lines, you may also need to obtain a recent health certificate with evidence of rabies vaccination.

Attach a temporary ID tag to your dog (in addition to their permanent tag), with the address of where you’ll be staying and other helpful contact information. It’s also not a bad idea to snap a high-quality, recent photo of your dog before the trip to show others in case they do wander off.

Make sure you’ve arranged for pet-friendly accommodations. Not every hotel allows pets, but a lot do; and, you’ll want to make sure you have reservations at an establishment that’s expecting your pet along with you. It’s probably not a bad idea to have some backup hotels planned out ahead of time too, in case you arrive to encounter an overbooked establishment.

Travel prepared with plenty of your dog’s regular food. All the traveling can be stressful on your pet, so you want as much as possible to stay the same – especially their food. Be sure to pack: food & water bowls, waste bags, leash, collar, favorite toys, and grooming supplies. Also, don’t forget the First Aid kit and their medications (if any).

You’ll want to make sure your dog is comfortably restrained during travel. If you have a hatchback, wagon, or SUV, then you can create a travel area for your pet in the rear of the vehicle. You should use a pet barrier or travel kennel to keep them from wandering around the vehicle though – a dangerous situation for both you and your dog. If you don’t have an open trunk area, then your dog will need to ride on the seats in a pet car seat or safety harness. Whichever option you use, be sure to make your dog’s comfort a priority. Bring their favorite blanket and put some of their favorite toys around.

While travelling, make frequent pit stops for potty breaks and to allow your dog to stretch their legs. Keep them on a leash, so they don’t wander off before you even arrive at your destination. While you’re stopped, make sure to keep your dog hydrated with fresh water (or ice cubes – easier on pets with upset stomachs).

Limit their food intake on the road – this includes allowing very few treats and absolutely NO people food. A small portion of their regular food will tide them over until you arrive at your destination. Dogs can get carsick too, and you don’t want to do anything to cause an unhappy stomach.

Other things that should go without saying- Don’t let them ride with their heads out the window. Although this makes for cute pics, it’s unnecessarily dangerous. Never let them ride unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck – illegal in some states, and extremely dangerous everywhere. Don’t leave them unattended in a parked vehicle, which leaves them vulnerable to rising temperatures and/or pet thieves.

Following the above tips will help to make vacationing with your dog a safer and more relaxing experience for both of you. Wherever you’re headed with your dog, have fun and safe travels!