A Friend and Travel Companion: Taking Your Dog Along for a Trip

July 18, 2019Mandi Morrison

Dogs are more than just pets — they’re part of the family. Many people take their pets with them on vacation or business trips because they’re unwilling to part with their faithful friend. Or put him in a kennel run by strangers. It’s fun and reassuring to have Fido along with you, but things can get uncomfortable if you’re unprepared for the challenges of traveling with an animal.

Checkup

Make sure your pet is in good shape for the stress and discomfort of a long car or plane ride. Take him to the veterinarian for a complete checkup. Make sure he’s up to date on all his shots, and take all vaccination records with you on the trip. If you’re flying, be aware that health certification documentation is mandatory for pets.

Prepare for the Worst

Of course, you never expect things will go badly, but it’s wise to be ready for an emergency just the same. Find the number of the 24-hour veterinary facility closest to your destination and keep it with you at all times (and the number of your vet at home). Bring along the name and dosage of any medications your pet is taking, and have plenty of identification (the more, the better). Including a collar with ID tags showing the name and contact information. If your pet hasn’t been microchipped, consider having it done before your departure. It’s a simple and painless process and allows your dog to be tracked electronically if he gets loose.

Taking Your Dog Along for a Trip dog on the beach wearing a sunhat

Keep Him Relaxed

CBD oil has been proven effective at helping both humans and animals relax in anxiety-producing circumstances. All it takes is a couple of drops of CBD oil each day (always consult with your vet before administering a new substance). There are many different brands and flavours on the market, and it’s important to find an oil that best suits your dog.

Selecting a Crate

A crate is a safe means of conveying your pet on a long trip, and it’s required for airline travel. They’re readily available at pet stores and major retailers, but you shouldn’t buy just any crate and call it a day. This will be your dog’s home away from home for many long hours, so it’s essential that he be comfortable and safe. It must be large enough so that he can lie down and turn around comfortably with enough room for a food and water dish. It should be well-ventilated with a padded floor and sides. If you’re flying, there should be a “Live Animal” label and a sign clearly showing which side should be “up.”

Rules and Regs

Each airline has its own set of regulations when it comes to animals. Carefully review your airline’s rules well before your trip so you have time to prepare. For example, airlines differ as to the kind of crate you may use. Which means you’ll need to know permissible dimensions and composition material before purchasing a crate for your dog. Don’t forget that your pet will require a reservation and that most airlines accept animal passengers. But on a first come, first served basis, so make your travel arrangements earlier rather than later.

Taking Your Dog Along for a Trip dog hitch hiking to Hamburg

Last Resort

Flying is a great way to go if you’re in a hurry, but it’s not the best choice for a pet. PETA characterizes an airplane hold as “dangerous, terrifying, and potentially deadly” for pets. The cargo hold of an airliner can indeed be a scary place for an animal. Especially one that’s never travelled before. Make air travel your option of last resort if your dog is accompanying you.

Practice Runs

Dogs tend to be highly sensitive to changes in their environment. Which means your pooch will need to get acclimated to riding in the car for an extended period. Don’t assume your dog will be comfortable on a six-hour drive. Just because he goes with you to pick up doughnuts on the weekends. Take him along for extended drives when you run errands or visit friends until being in a vehicle becomes familiar and comfortable. Keep lots of water on hand but avoid taking him for a ride on a full stomach, and be ready for multiple bathroom breaks.

Schedule Potty Stops

The longer your drive, the more potty breaks your pet will need along the way. There may not always be a soft stand of grass for him to go on — especially in an emergency. So try to familiarize your dog with different surfaces, including concrete and gravel. Bring plenty of cleaning supplies, including bags, wipes, and paper towels, and always have a leash in case your pup needs to exit the car quickly. Leave a window cracked to keep a steady flow of fresh air going, and feed him several hours before departure to reduce the likelihood of car sickness.

Accommodations

Many hotels these days welcome dogs, but there are usually restrictions as to size (and number). So get the details before booking a room, including where on the property your pet may go to the bathroom. Remember, even if your hotel allows dogs, it’s important to keep him quiet. A dog that barks all night won’t make your fellow guests happy. Best Western, Doubletree, Extended Stay America, and Hampton Inn are some of the leading dog-friendly hotel chains.

Taking Your Dog Along for a Trip Dog on a boat

Vacation Rental

If you’re vacationing in a rental property, take a few minutes to “dog-proof” the place before settling in. You never know what someone else may have left behind or what trouble your pet might get into. Make sure electrical cords are secured along the wall and that there are no small objects lying around that a dog could swallow. Be attentive throughout your stay; if your pooch urinates on the carpet or chews on a piece of furniture, you could be charged for damages.

Playtime

Just like at home, your dog will need to get in some exercise while you’re both away. Before you go on vacation, research dog parks near your destination. Also, take necessary precautions to keep your pup and other pooches safe at the park. Make sure he’s up to date on his vaccinations and that the ID tags are securely attached to his collar. While your dog is running around at the park, keep an eye on him at all times in case he or another dog starts to show signs of aggression. Lastly, help keep the park clean by removing messes left behind by your pup.

It can be a lot of fun to have your dog along on a trip. It makes for great companionship and sets you at ease having him with you rather than cooped up in a kennel. The movement and restricted space make long-distance traveling a strain for a pet no matter how hard you try. However, as long as you plan carefully and take time to make arrangements before setting out on your adventure, you and your dog can have a blast making new memories together, if you choose to go somewhere hot, ensure your furry friend doesn’t get sunburn

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