If you’re like me, your dog is part of the family and you want to take him with you when you go on vacation. After all, you just wouldn’t feel right locking your pet up in doggie daycare while the rest of your family go live it up. Taking your dog with you doesn’t have to be a problem. Just start early preparing for bringing your pup along on your trip. We’ve assembled some tips and advice so you can be sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Your dog would most definitely choose to go with you, so take him! Here’s the top 20 dog safety travel tips.
1. Contact Your Vet
Especially when it’s been awhile since your dog has had a checkup, take your dog to see the vet. This will not only ensure that he is up to date on his shots, but that also he’s in healthy shape. In addition, you can ask the vet about other vaccinations that may be required for your dog because of where you’re headed. You want to be careful of your dog encountering different threats, such as Lyme disease, while you’re away from home. If you’re dog has problems handling trips, you could ask your vet for some doggie medicine which will help make riding in a vehicle a lot more tolerable. Unless the vet advises against taking your pet on a trip, your dog would rather endure a few hours in the car or on a plane in order to stay with his family.
2. Update ID/Chip
Updating your dog’s ID will help if your dog happens to get lost while you’re on vacation. Not only should you make sure that the number on his tag is your cell phone number and not your home phone number, but you should also list an additional emergency phone number of a friend or family member that will also be in the same area as you will be vacationing in. An added level of security is achieved by having your dog chipped. A microchip comes in handy when your dog has slipped his collar in order to make his escape. Obviously, you want to make sure you’ll be able to find your dog should he get lost.
3. Bring a Recent Picture
Be sure to have a recent picture already printed out since it would be helpful in case your dog goes missing suddenly. Even if your dog has never run off and always stays right with you, it’s better to be prepared just in case. Worst case scenario, if your dog does get away from you, you’ll already have a pic handy. Also make sure you have additional pics on your phone from all angles and pictures of any identifying characteristics. These will further aid in finding your dog if he runs off after a squirrel and ends up getting lost. It can happen. Just be prepared.
4. “Go Now”
Teach your dog to eliminate on command. If you want to speed up potty breaks, especially in new, unfamiliar places which will be in abundance when you go on vacation, teach your dog to “go now” or a similar command. Teaching your dog to go on command before going on vacation will help to speed up potty breaks and in addition, will help your dog “go” in unfamiliar places more quickly. For step by step instructions on how this to your dog, check the ASPCA web page.
5. Take Practice Rides
Prepare your pet for the road trip by taking short test drives before the actual trip. The more you can get him used to riding in the car, the better. Furthermore, a lot of dogs suffer from car sickness, and you definitely want to know if your dog is prone to before heading out on vacation. This also helps dogs who may be fearful at first to get over their fear and learn how to relax. Of course, if riding in a car is just too stressful for your pup, perhaps you should just get someone to babysit him or check him into an extended doggie daycare instead of forcing him on a trip which he may be sick or scared the whole time.
6. Check the Weather
It may sound weird, but knowing whether issues such as rain or snow could possibly slow down your traveling is good to know. Also, you want to avoid going somewhere which may have a strong potential for a natural disaster to strike, such as floods, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Also, you should pack for dog according to the weather. If it’s going to be colder than what he’s used to, you should pack some doggy clothing for him as well as maybe booties, hats, scarves, and extra blankets. After all, you want your pet to be as comfortable as possible.
7. Find Pet-Friendly Places
First of all, you need to make sure you have secured pet-friendly accommodations. Not all hotels are accepting of pets and even other types of lodging, even campsites, may have restrictions. Call in advance to make sure your dog will be welcomed and ask about their policies regarding pets. Ask if they have breed restrictions, what the rules are, and if there are any fees you need pay for having your pet accompany you. Some hotels are very pet-friendly and you can find information such as this, as well as for finding pet-friendly restaurants, stores, and even rest stops by checking online with like dogfriendly.com.
8. Plan Your Route
Once you know where you’re going, plan your route to include dog-friendly rest stops, restaurants, and lodgings. Furthermore, you’ll want to ensure that your route and schedule will allow regular breaks. For your dog’s happiness as well as comfort, he’ll need to relieve himself, walk around a bit, and just experience the joy of being somewhere new and unfamiliar. Plus, giving him regular breaks from sitting in the car will make for a better behaving dog! Plan your trip so that you’ll be able to take a break every four hours for fifteen to twenty minutes. Try to schedule some time in at dog parks along the way or pet-friendly attractions, which will make your trip a lot more enjoyable not only for your dog, but also for you!
9. Be Aware of Vets/Doggie Daycare
You can ask your vet if he can recommend anyone where you’re going, but if he can’t, just do your own research. Know which vet clinics are going to be close by and already have the contact information of several saved to your phone. In case of an emergency, you should also know where the nearest twenty-four emergency vet clinic is located should an after-hours emergency come up. Additionally, you should also have a couple of doggie daycare facilities in mind. You may want or need to get away from your pet some, or attend an event where pets aren’t allowed, and will need somewhere to stash him where he’ll be looked after. You should never leave your dog unattended in an unfamiliar environment because it could cause him to become scared and/or anxious. Be sure to find a professional to take care of him instead. If you have friends/family in the area, ask for recommendations or call the local vets and ask their opinion.
10. Pack All the Essentials
Just like you need to pack a bag or two, you’re dog needs you to pack the essentials for them as well. Keeping them separate from your stuff will just make it easier to get to them when your pet needs something. The following is a list of things you’ll want to pack for your dog:
- Food & bowl
- Water & bowl
- Medical records & vaccination certificates
- Updated tags with a collar and leash
- Favorite toys for chewing, fetching, & sleeping
- Dog bed & blankets
- A kennel
- Appropriate protective clothing
- Insect repellent and sunscreen safe for dogs
- Water googles for swimming
- Brush, shampoo, dog towel
- Flea comb and tick remover
- Poop bags
11. Make a Doggie Car Care Bag
Even though you’ve packed your pet’s things separately from your own, you still don’t want to have to dig into luggage every time you stop. Instead, make it easier by making a doggie car care bag. Convert a bag made for carrying toiletries, or another like-item with plastic see-through pockets, as an organizer for your car, keeping all your pet’s essentials in one place and easy to access. Simply throw it over the seat or roll it up in the floor out of the way. Fill it with a small amount of food, a few snacks/treats, a water bottle & bowl, a few toys, any medication he may need, and poop bags. This organizer will make the trip much easier and make your rest stop and potty breaks a lot faster as well.
12. Don’t Feed Him
Right before a long trip, it’s actually better if you don’t feed your dog. If your trip is going to interfere with meal time, feeding your dog a light meal three to four hours before leaving is your best option. Once you’re on the road and your pet gets used to the motion, you’ll be able to judge rather or not he’s capable of eating a small meal while taking a break or not. Because some dogs experience car sickness, don’t feed your dog right before leaving. In addition, before heading out, take your pet for a nice, long walk, and get him ready to relax on the trip.
13. Buy/Make Doggie First Aid Box
Either purchase or make a dog first aid box, keeping it in your car for emergencies. The following is a list of items which should be added to the box:
- 3% hydrogen peroxide (for disinfecting wounds)
- vet wraps (make sure they only stick to the skin and not the hair)
- non-adhesive sterile pads
- extra leash & muzzle
- space blanket/compact thermal blanket
- stypic powder/cornstarch (for staunching bleeding)
- a plastic card for scraping stingers from the skin
- a pen light
- pet first aid book (or see next step)
- list of emergency numbers, such as your vet, emergency vet clinic, and poison control
14. Download Dog First Aid App
Instead of, or in addition to, a pet first aid book, download Pet First Aid App from the American Red Cross prior to your trip. It’s free and provides great advice such as the following:
- step by step instructions to follow in emergency situations requiring first aid
- your pet’s profile, such as tag ID, photo, and medical information
- early warning signs to watch for
- animal hospital locator
- how to include your pets in preparing for emergency plans
15. Secure You Dog
It’s very important to secure your dog when considering safely issues. Keeping your dog restrained is important not just for his safely, but for your’s and your family’s as well. According to reports, a sixty pound dog traveling in a car doing just thirty-five can become a twenty-seven hundred pound projectile when in an accident. Restrain your dog with a pet seat-belt or in a kennel. The safest way to restrain him is by using a safety-certified crate that has been crash-tested. You put your small children in safe car seats; your pet should be safely secured as well.
16. Keep Paws & Head Inside the Vehicle
If your dog is secured properly, you won’t have to worry about this anyway. You risk your dog leaping out of the car by allowing him to stick his head out the window. Furthermore, when driving fast, the high winds in generates can be dangerous, harming your dog’s ears and eyes. Only roll your windows down when your dog is safely secured within a crate or pet seat-belt. Yes, dogs do love sticking their heads out car windows, but their safety should come first.
17. Provide In-car Activities
Just as your kids get bored on long trips, so does your dog, and just like your kids, dogs tend to get excited and unruly when bored. By providing an activity for him while traveling, you can prevent this from happening. Give your pet a food puzzle or stuffed Kong to keep him occupied. In addition, some dogs enjoy watching TV, so if your vehicle is equipped with a DVD & screen or if you have a tablet available, play him some doggie friendly movies. Also, as mentioned before, be sure to stop often to give your dog a break.
18. Play White Noise
Because a lot of dogs are more alert in unfamiliar places, you may be asked to leave if your dog continually barks at noises in the night, even at pet-friendly accommodations. To avoid this from happening, play white noise to mask some of the unfamiliar noises, limiting the amount of outside noise your dog hears. There are many white noise apps available for free for your smartphone. As an added bonus, these may help you sleep better as well. If you want to just play them for your dog, get him used to wearing/using a set of headphones.
19. Maintain Your Routine
Even though you’re on vacation, it’s still best to maintain your dog’s routine as closely as possible. Obviously, it’s not possible to do everything the same as you would at home, but the more consistent you can be, the better. Once you reach your final destination, try to feed and walk your pet on as close to the same schedule as you would at home. Furthermore, try to increase his exercise/walk time in order to get rid of any extra excitement or anxiety that may be caused by the trip.
20. Have Fun!
Last, but not least, have fun with your dog. You must think of him as part of the family, otherwise you wouldn’t have included him in the vacation plans. Now that you’ve prepared your pet for this vacation, just have fun! Take your dog to pet-friendly attractions and be sure to check out local dog parks. After all, you want your dog to have just as much fun as you and your family.