While many folks utilize friends, relatives, in home pet sitters and boarding facilities to care for their pet while on vacation, others would rather stay home than leave them at all. Anyone who has ever traveled for vacation knows just how stressful it can be, and double that if you’re bringing pets. Unlike the TV ads where you just all jump smiling into the car and let Fido hop in without a second thought, the reality of traveling with your family pet is a bit more complicated. Here are some suggestions for a safe and happy trip with your pet!
Plan ahead! Get your pet a microchip and also be sure to have a well fitted color and a tag imprinted with your home address and cell phone number. PLEASE make sure it is a flat collar, not a choke style. Some folks add a small luggage style tag to the collar with hotel information and more.
Pack a travel bag for, Fido, too. Include rabies vaccination paperwork (in case you are crossing state lines or even if a bite should happen), any prescriptions, food and water bowls, a leash, pop bags, grooming needs, a pet first aid kit, that favorite pillow or toy…and a few pictures of Fido alone and with the family! Consider bringing bottled water since even subtle changes can wreak havoc on a sensitive system.
If you haven’t traveled with your pet before, start with frequent short drives and lengthen them to help Fido get adjusted to the idea. Be sure to have a crate which is well ventilated and secure. One that is big enough to stand up in, turn around and lie down in comfortably. Secure it so it doesn’t rollover or slide around with sudden stops or turns. Bring the crate indoors and make it an enjoyable place to lounge or have a snack. The continuity of something from home to den in is a plus for the whole family! Never let your dog drive with its head out the window. Yes, they do love it…but an airborne stone or a particle in the eye at high speeds is devastating.
Be sure to feed Fido a light meal about 3 1/2 – 4 hours before taking off. Factor in frequent stops for a water stop/ potty stop and to give everyone a chance to stretch their legs. It’s a good idea not to feed your dog in a moving vehicle, so utilize the stops for Fido’s meals. This is probably a good time to point out that accidents DO happen, and having protective (waterproof?) seat covers or floor liners may be worth the investment.
Finally, never ever leave your dog crated and unattended in a locked vehicle. It really doesn’t matter the time of year. In the summer your dog can overheat as temperatures turn your vehicle into an oven. In the winter it can act like a freezer. You loved him enough to bring him along…love him enough to be the best pooch parent you can be!