BEST TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH A DOG
“The journey of life is sweeter when traveling with a dog” – Bridget Willoughby
We love our dogs. They are a part of our family. It is only natural that we want to include them in all aspects of our lives, including travel.
Part two of my “Traveling with pets” series will focus on how to travel with your dog. Below are the best tips for traveling with a dog. I have broken down the basics into 5 parts. I hope you find this information useful and I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips that I left out. Click here to read part one “Pet-Friendly Hotels With Amazing Perks”
COVERING THE BASICS
Vaccinations– Make sure to take your dog to the vet before traveling out of the Country or for any long-extended trips. Be sure you are up to date on all vaccinations and keep a copy of your pets health records with you. I always take a photo of the vaccination records in case I lose the hard copy. Remember health certifications are required for airline travel.
Food– Bring along your dog’s normal food. Switching brands of food will irritate your dog’s stomach and can cause diarrhea. If the destination you are traveling to does not sell the brand your dog is used to mix in his normal food at a 50/50 mix with the new food to slowly get him adjusted to the new brand. Also be careful when changing the meat base of a food, like going from chicken based food to beef.
Medications– Just like you your dog will need to stay consistent with any prescribed medications he may be on. Be sure to pack enough to last your entire trip. If you are flying you may also want to speak to your vet about medications that will help relax your pet on the long journey.
Emergencies– Be prepared by finding out where the nearest 24- hour veterinary hospital is and add it to your phone contacts. Make sure to also have your normal vet’s contact info with you in case the emergency vet needs to contact them for any records.
Comfort– Travel can be stressful on your dog so bring some things from home that will give him comfort. A favorite toy, his bed, his crate, whatever will make him feel safe.
Identification– Make sure that your dog is wearing a collar with ID tags at all times. Be sure the tag includes your cell phone number. If you are staying at one location for an extended time you can make a name tag instantly at many pet stores and even Walmart. You can include the name or address of the place you are staying at along with your cell phone and the hotel/ campground/ rental home number. You may also want to consider a permanent form of ID like microchipping. Make sure to have a current and clear photo of your dog with you in case he does get lost.
First and foremost NEVER leave your dog alone and unattended in a car. By now we have all heard stories of pets dying after being left in a locked vehicle. Cracking a window on an 80-degree day is not going to help. If you do not think you would be comfortable in the locked car then your dog will not be either.
Safety– Do not allow your dog free roam of the vehicle. Use a safety restraint that hooks to a seat belt or crate your dog. If a crash occurs, you want your dog to be restrained and protected. NEVER let your dog ride loose in the back of a pickup. Allowing your dog to ride with his head out the window is also putting him at risk of an eye injury so best to keep the windows out of reach or rolled up.
Potty breaks– make sure to stop and take your dog out for potty breaks every once in a while. I always take mine out when I need a break myself and when I stop for gas. Taking him out for a short walk to let him stretch his legs and relieve himself is crucial to his comfort.
Car sickness– If your dog is prone to car sickness or is not used to car travel then it’s best for him to travel on an empty stomach. You can also talk to your vet about medications that may help your dog with motion sickness. Always make sure your dog has fresh water though.
Crates– You may think it is not fair to keep your dog in a crate, after all, you wouldn’t want to be locked in a crate. Don’t project your feelings onto your dog. Dogs often feel safest in a crate, they are den-dwelling animals and it is instinctual for them to find comfort in small confined spaces. Make sure your dog has been walked and exercised before placing him in the crate. Be sure to remove any harmful objects such as a loose collar or leash before placing him inside. Offer fresh water. You can buy clip-on bowls for most pets that will prevent the water from sliding or spilling while traveling. Put a comfortable bed in the crate for him to snuggle up on but remove any toys or chew treats that could cause a choking hazard.
Emergency kits– Keep a doggie emergency kit in your car. Leash, extra collar, poop bags. Talk to your vet about Benadryl (in case your dog has an allergic reaction) and other over the counter medicines that are safe for your dog and find out what the vet recommended dose is based on your dog’s size. Bandages, topical antibiotics, scissors, nail trimmers.
Always check with the hotel first to be sure pets are allowed.
EXERCISE– Before going into the room take your dog for a walk. Let him relieve himself and get used to the new smells. Your dog may feel nervous after the journey so be cautious when other animals or people approach you. Let him get used to his new surroundings.
Entering the room– If you are traveling with another adult one of you should enter the room first and get it ready for your dog. While one of you takes the dog for a walk the other should bring in the crate and dog supplies. Check out the room, look under the bed and look on the floor for any items that could be harmful to your dog if he eats it. Walk around the room and any adjoining rooms, like the bathroom. This will help spread your scent through the room and may give comfort to your dog when he enters.
Playtime– Remember to not get your dog excited to the point of barking. If your dog loves a good round of tug of war or game of fetch that’s fine but be mindful of the other guests and set strong no barking rules for your pet. If your dog does not have a very strong and reliable recall (comes when called) then bring a lunge line or long leash (you can purchase 12 – 20 foot leads online) so that you can still take him out and throw the ball while keeping him tethered to you and safe from running off.
Airlines– First thing you need to do is call the airline and find out what their rules on pet travel are. Every airline is different. DO NOT assume you know what one airline allows just because you have flown before. If possible, you want your dog in the cabin with you. Service dogs are always allowed in the cabin so do your homework on that. Most small dogs are allowed as long as they fit in an under the seat carrier. If you must travel with your dog in the cargo hold check weather conditions and make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water in their crate.
Vet Visit– As mentioned above you will need current vaccinations and proof of good health before flying. Talk to your vet about air travel and if they recommend any calming sedatives before travel.
Crates– Airlines have firm rules on what types of crates are allowed. Be sure to check with the airline first to be sure your crate meets their specifications.
Pack a bag– Bring your own doggie carry on if your dog is flying in the cabin with you. Bring treats, food, bottled water, and travel bowl. In case of mid-flight accidents, you should also bring poop bags, paper towel or moist wet wipes. You should also bring a favorite blanket or toy for comfort.
Carrier– No matter how well trained your dog is you should line his carrier with absorbent puppy pads. If he gets sick or does relieve himself, you don’t want him to have to lay in it. Bring extras to change it out if he has an accident.
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