Every so often, we all need some change of scenery and a break from our day-to-day routines… but what about our pets? If you’re a pet owner who spends your vacations looking longingly at photos of your furry friend back home, it may be time to consider bringing him along for your next getaway. (Who says pets are the only ones who experience separation anxiety?)
If you’ve got a pet-friendly vacation in the works, read on for some of our top dog traveling tips to ensure safe, happy travels for everyone involved.
Before Your Trip
Most well-planned vacations require a significant amount of time and planning. When your travel plans involve your four-legged family member, you’ll need to spend even more time doing research and prepping your dog for travel.
Keep in mind that not all dogs are capable of traveling, and may be better off staying home with a sitter if possible. Of course, there are some cases—such as moving across the country—when you’ll definitely want to bring your dog with you.
Before you set off on your adventure, do the following:
Visit the vet to make sure your pooch is up-to-date on all of his vaccinations, and check that he’s in sufficient mental and physical shape for travel.
If you’re planning to book a hotel, motel, or private home rental, check that dogs are allowed. Some places may have size and breed restrictions, and the last thing you want after a long day of driving is to be turned away because of your pet.
If you’re planning to stay with family or friends, gather as much information as possible about children or other pets in the home that may not get along with your dog. Of course, your host will also need to give you permission to bring your dog in the first place.
Research vets in your destination area so that you’re prepared in case of an emergency.
Check that the contact information on your dog’s collar are up-to-date with your contact information. For added security, it’s also a good idea to have your dog microchipped.
Take your dog for practice car rides leading up to your trip, so he gets used to the feeling of being in the car.
- If he isn’t already, take some time to help your pet become familiar with his dog travel crate or carrier through crate training.
Packing for Your Trip
Once the details are set and you’re simply counting down until you set off on your trip, it’s time to pack for your trip.
Prepare an easily portable dog travel bag with your pup’s essentials. That way, you’ll have everything in one place whether you’re driving or settling into your lodging situation.
A dog travel bag should include food, bowls, grooming supplies, medications, a leash, favorite toys, dog bedding, and, of course, treats. It’s also a good idea to pack a vet-approved first-aid kit for your dog, just in case.
You should also have your dog’s health and immunization records on hand, along with a photo of him in case he happens to get lost.
When it comes to vehicle safety, you have a few different options including a dog seatbelt, dog car seat, back seat hammock, pet barrier, and travel crate. Do some research (with some possible trial and error) to find the best fit for your furry friend.
If you’re traveling with a cat, be sure to keep her in a travel carrier secured with a seat belt.
During Your Trip
Once you set off on your road trip, be sure to keep your pooch restrained but comfortable. This will help minimize distractions for the driver, and keep your dog safe from potential injuries.
Provide your pup with plenty of toys and comfort objects to keep him occupied during the ride. Car rides can be boring for everyone involved, so instruct others in the car not to pester your pet.
Avoid feeding your dog in a moving vehicle, as this could lead to car sickness. Instead, try to feed him 3-4 hours before you leave and during your rest stops.
Speaking of food—when changing your dog’s environment, it’s best to keep his food consistent to maintain a sense of familiarity. After all, no one wants to deal with tummy troubles while also navigating new surroundings.
Provide your dog with plenty of water, too. If you’re not planning to drink the tap water while on vacation, your dog shouldn’t either. Use a collapsible water bowl with bottled water to make sure your pooch stays hydrated for the duration of the trip.
Never leave your dog alone in the car. If possible, bring a human travel buddy with you so you can take turns watching Fido when you need to go into a gas station, rest stop, or somewhere else that may not allow dogs. It’s also helpful to have someone who can monitor the dog while you’re driving.
When traveling with pets, driving is typically the best option. If you need to travel by airplane, bus, or boat, check the company’s pet policies including fees, size and breed restrictions, and immunization requirements. Weigh the risks, too—brachycephalic breeds such as pugs and bulldogs may have a more difficult time during air travel.
Dogs can sense our emotions, so try to stay as calm as possible throughout your trip. After all, vacations are meant to be enjoyed! The calmer you are, the calmer your dog will be.
For dogs who experience travel anxiety or motion sickness, Pet Honesty’s Hemp Calming Chews can make traveling more enjoyable. For dogs who need an extra calming boost, try Premium Hemp Calming Chews.