More many pet owners, a summer vacation just isn’t complete unless the family dog comes along for the trip. As you plan to head out for some family fun, here are some ways to make sure your pet has a good time, too:
1) Before you leave, check with your vet to make sure that your dog is healthy enough for travel, that vaccinations are up-to-date, and that you’ve packed enough of any medications you might need while you’re away. Some areas of the country deal with different animal diseases, so make sure you’ve prepared your dog for heartworm, fleas and ticks.
2) Make sure that your dog has the proper identification on him. A tag on his collar with your cell phone or the number where you are staying while traveling is helpful, and if possible, have your dog microchipped with your information and your vet’s information. Tags and collars can be lost when a dog strays, so make sure that whoever finds Fido can find you.
3) Carry a current photo of your dog as well anything you would need to prove the dog is yours should you have to reclaim him at an animal shelter.
4) Before you leave home, do a google search for veterinarians, animal hospitals or even boarding facilities like Camp Bow Wow on your travel route and at your destination, so that you have the information handy in case of an emergency. If the family decides to spend a day at the amusement park, for example, Fido can have some fun with his canine buddies instead of being cooped up in a kennel in the hotel room. And should there be a human emergency, it’ll make it easier to find a kennel to watch your dog while you tend to doctors or hospitals.
5) Carry with you any papers, rabies certificates, vaccination records, or other documentation you may should you need to bring your dog to the vet or a kennel. You’ll need that information if you board your dog while you’re away, and also if you cross the Mexican or Canadian borders.
6) While you’re driving, make sure you stop every few hours to let Fido stretch his legs, potty, and have a little play.
7) Lorraine Corriveau, a wellness veterinarian at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, suggests, “Use tranquilizers only if the pet has a tendency to vocalize excessively, drool or salivate, vomit, defecate or urinate in the car. For mild symptoms, Benadryl, at a dose of 1 mg per pound, can relax pets, but check with a veterinarian first to make sure it is safe for your pet.”
8) Never, ever, ever leave your dog in the car while you’re shopping or dining or running errands. Remember that Fido can only cool down by panting or through his paws. So even if there’s a breeze blowing through the windows, the temperature in the car can still be much too high for your dog. Brain damage from high temperatures can happen quickly. (Here’s more information about how heat affects your dog when he’s left in the car.)
9) A change in routine can be confusing for some dogs, and those not used to travel may find it very stressful. Make sure you bring some familiar toys, treats or blankets with you, and be understanding if your well-trained dog suddenly makes mistakes or your friendly pooch seems wary in the new situation.
10) And lastly, before you pack your pup in the car and drive across the country, consider whether or not he may be happier at home. There are many reputable pet sitters across the country who can care for your dog, as well as boarding facilites. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a kennel or pet sitter.
And be sure to check out publications like the AAA Guide To Traveling With Your Pet and the magazine Fido Friendly. Both offer information about pet-friendly travel destinations, restaurants, hotels and more to help make traveling with your dog a pleasurable experience for the whole family.