Top 9 tips for traveling with dogs
Vacation: Those eight letters that so many of us pine for, perhaps once a year or perhaps a weekend getaway. For many canine owners, hitting the open road with an excursion in mind can also mean thirteen other letters: No Dogs Allowed! Traveling with dogs can be done and we have some tips.
Fortunately, you are an owner who wants to take the family dog(s) along, hence the fact that you are reading a blog dedicated to the very notion. Throughout sixteen years of vacationing with my dogs, I’ve heard countless numbers of fellow travelers say, “I wish we could’ve brought ours along!” I respond with the many travel tips and hints we’ve learned over the years. In lieu of visiting each of you to dish the inside scoop with unique how-to’s in making Fido’s frolicking as fun and fret-free as possible, sit, stay, and read a while.
1. Two Must-Have Products To Save You a Vet Visit on Vacation
* There’s no place like home…that is, unless traveling with Fido, and then home is no place to appear solo on an identification tag. Your home address and phone number are of zero assistance to a lost pooch in unfamiliar territory. Make a temporary identification tag with hotel information and your cell number to help reunite Fido with you quickly, thus avoiding checking with out-of-area vets/shelters to find your pooch. Self-serve tag making machines have popped up in pet supply stores nationwide. Go green and recycle by creating a homemade tag with an easily replaceable insert using materials from a craft store. Change the destination with each trip you and your canine pal take. How much fun would it be to later scrapbook these tags representing all the places Fido has been with you?
* UV rays are as harmful to pets as they are to humans, even in an air-conditioned car. Vet-recommended sunblock and in-car sun shades will keep your dog safeguarded en route and during your stay. A dog’s coat protects them in the summer and provides warmth in the winter, so use caution in grooming. Never leave a dog alone in the car. Not only is he/she susceptible to heatstroke and/or death but also theft.
2. Three Questions to Ask the Front Desk Before Booking a Room
“But it says you accept dogs on the internet! Now I’m stuck!” Save yourself the utterance of those words by asking about pet policies and weight limits prior to booking a room. Just because a travel book or website says it is so does not make it so; pet policies frequently change. Additionally, ask about pet fees and access to greenery for Fido’s taking care of business.
3. The One Question You Must Ask if Renting a Vacation Property
If you are considering a rental property, inquire if it will be checked for fleas and ticks prior to your arrival. The only souvenir you should bring home is sand in your beach bag or a snow globe for Aunt Marge, not pesky critters taking the canine express back to your abode.
4. A Five-Minute Quiz to Determine if your Pet is Road Ready
Do you spell the word v-e-t around Fido? Does the jingle of car keys elicit a slinking away of your pooch to a safer haven behind the couch? If your dog doesn’t like car travel, you can try to change this. Assess road readiness with a five-minute trip around the block. Slowly increase the amount of time Fido spends in the car, making the destination worthwhile (i.e., a favorite park). Praise “getting there” with a treat upon arrival. Never take a travel-fearful dog on a road trip. Desensitizing and gradually acclimating Fido takes time and patience. A vet or animal behaviorist can help.
5. Ten Items to Pack in the “Doggie” Bag for the Day
Pack a WT-WTCH (What’s The Worst That Could Happen) bag, including a first aid kit, water bottle and bowl, vaccination records, current photo, flotation device (for water travelers), clean up bags, wet wipes and paper towels. Toss in an extra collar and leash in the event either is misplaced. Access to clean, cool water is an all-season must have. Has Fido been in a similar climate to that of your destination? Prevent problems with allergy medication(s), a doggie sweater, tweezers for tick removal and a flashlight for nighttime walks.
6. Products to Make the Journey a Safe One
Show some restraint in getting there (he’ll never ask “are we there yet,” but potty breaks are needed). Never allow your dog to hang its head outside the window of a moving vehicle, as road debris might seriously damage the eyes and sudden stops can be deadly. Travel-ready safety products including harnesses, seatbelts, pet partitions, and booster seats will keep your beloved pup out of harm’s way and prevent interference with driver focus. NEVER leave a pet unattended in a car.
7. Elderly Pets Travel Comfortably Thanks to This Handy Travel Mate
Leave no pet behind, and that means seniors, too! Check with your veterinarian to assess your golden oldie’s travel feasibility and then pack a pet stroller/buggy. These products offer an ingenuous mode of transportation for pups of all ages who simply get “dog tired.” As with car rides, acclimate your dog prior to using it on vacation.
8. The One Call to Make Prior to Traveling That Just Might Save Fido’s Life
Be prepared. While an emergency visit to the vet isn’t on your vacationing “to do” list, inevitably some of us will encounter this situation. Locate the nearest animal emergency clinic prior to leaving for your trip or ask staff upon checking in. Access to this emergency information while vacationing might just save your dog’s life.
9.How and Where to Eat with Fido on Vacation
“Waiter, a doggie bag, please!” Even better, take your dog with you to a dog-friendly eatery or outdoor café. Call ahead or log online to locate eateries which have special Fido-friendly sections in their outdoor patios. Dogs-welcomed policies are kept in place because of responsible owners, so do keep barking and begging to a minimum.
Look around on your next trip, then glance down to that loving companion by your side and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Traveling with Fido takes a little planning, but be the human your pooch thinks you are and travel with these tips in mind.
What’s your favorite tip for traveling with your dog?
Great tips — especially the idea of updating dog tags based on where you’re going to be!
I would also suggest programming directions to the nearest animal hospital into your GPS (or if you don’t have a GPS, scribble them out on paper and put them in your glove compartment). In the event of an emergency, it’s one less thing you have to think about when you’re already rattled. And always bring extra food — even some popular dog food brands are harder to find in different parts of the country, and if your local store doesn’t carry your pup’s brand and you have to try something new, your dog could end up with an upset stomach.
Additionally, as you noted, many hotels that claim to be dog-friendly charge high pet fees, place restrictions on size/weight/breed, or simply have nothing for your dog to do once you get there. So be sure to check the fine print and research local activities that are dog friendly before heading out. Or better yet, choose a vacation designed FOR dogs, like Canine Camp Getaway of NY, where everything revolves around having fun with Fido!
Agreed on the food, too, Janice. We always pack extra and feeding The Honest Kitchen, we make sure to have it handy.