Our pets make us feel safe and loved, and these days, we need that. If we can include our dogs in our vacation plans, it means the whole family can make memories together. No expensive boarding options, the stress of finding a house sitter, or begging your friend to take your dog. What it does mean is more planning ahead. Same as with family, we need to plan when traveling with dogs.
Travel looks a bit different these days so if you’re thinking about bringing your pet on your trip, here’s the skinny on the best way to accomplish that. Speaking of skinny, have you lost your COVID-15 yet? Me either.
A NEW YEAR, NEW RULES, WHEN TRAVELING WITH DOGS
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently changed their rules for airline travel with pets. It has become way too easy to slap on a service dog vest to avoid putting your dog with your luggage, and airlines are cracking down. That means cargo’s your option if you have a big dog, but pets are family, not luggage. Would you want to fly with the luggage down below? I didn’t think so. Now, my kids, that’s a different story. Just kidding...sort of.
COVID has brought challenges for airline travel, human or canine. Check if your airline is even allowing pets in cargo as most are not at the moment. Some may not be allowing small pets under your seat either. Does that mean your vacation with Fido is out?
Keep the Wheels Down on the Ground
Your best bet is to travel by car if you plan on bringing your dog with you. Plus, strangers in the airport won’t be petting your dog and spreading germs. YUCK.
Car travel has its challenges as well, but you have more control.
Does your dog hate the car?
Does your dog get car-sick?
Does your dog jump in the front seat while you’re driving and move your shift gear from drive to neutral?
There are a lot of products on the market to combat all the above. Restraining your dog will keep you and your pet safe as well as others on the road. There are car hammocks, dog seat belts, harnesses, carriers, and crates. Some states require your dog to be harnessed in the car and have other rules for car travel, so do a bit of research before you head out, especially if you’re driving to a different state.
It’s so much fun driving with the windows open, seeing your dog living its best life; head out the window, hair blowing in the wind, tongue hanging out. It makes people smile as they pass you, however, it’s really dangerous.
A foreign object like a rock can hit your dog and do some major damage.
A dog could jump through an open window while you’re driving.
If your pet accidentally presses the window button, its head can get stuck and cause serious injury.
These are awful thoughts but they do happen and can be avoided.
Make Sure Your Accommodations Accommodate Pets
Wherever you plan on staying, always check the rules for allowing pets. Imagine driving hours and hours only to get to your destination to be turned away? When you discover a place that checks all the boxes, go down your list of questions and dig deeper so you’re prepared.
Is there a maximum pet weight limit?
Is there a limit to the number of pets you can bring?
What floor are the pet-friendly rooms on?
Is there a fenced-in dog park on-site or in the area?
Are shot records required to ensure all pets are up to date?
Even if you think a question is silly, ask it anyway. Remember your pet will be away from home and in a new environment. Your goal is to make sure everyone in your crew is happy, healthy, and are enjoying themselves.
What to Pack Your Pet?
While you can always buy some items along your travels, others cannot be duplicated. Do you remember that hilarious scene in Best in Show when the Weimaraner owners couldn’t find his busy bee pet? You want to avoid that from happening.
If your dog eats kibble, pack the amount you know you’ll need and then some. It’s better to have leftovers and bring them home than to have to ration Fido’s food for fear he’ll run out.
Bring a food and water bowl and consider parking a travel version as well. One set can stay at your hotel and the other you can collapse and easily bring with you on hikes and when you’re out and about.
Just like a child won’t sleep without a favorite stuffed animal, some dogs are also very attached to their toys and need them for comfort. Bring a few special toys that are familiar and calming.
This may seem obvious but if your dog doesn’t normally wear a collar and plays in the backyard, you may not be used to handling these items every day.
In a new environment, no one knows your dog and your dog isn’t familiar with the lay of the land. A collar with your contact information is a must-have and of course a leash to walk your dog.
Dog Bed or Travel Crate
If you have the room and your dog rests and naps on a dog bed every night, bring it along so it will peacefully sleep. If you crate train your pet and the crate can collapse easily and fit in your car, keep up with your normal routine. When your dog is comfortable and feels safe, you’ll all sleep better.
If your dog takes vitamins or prescription medication, put that at the top of your list, and don’t forget them. These are items you won’t be able to run out and purchase. Before you go, make sure your dog is up to date on its shots and flea and tick medication.
Towels and Cleaning Supplies
If your dog gets sick in the car, be prepared for cleanup duty or doodie, depending on the situation. Sorry, had to go there.
If your pet needs emergency care, do some research ahead of time and know where the closest 24-hour pet hospitals are. The last thing you need to do is spend time looking for a veterinarian when your doggie needs immediate attention.
Give yourself plenty of time to get ready for your trip with your dog . Whichever way you choose to get to your destination, create safe conditions, be prepared, know before you go, and enjoy! Happy travels!
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