Your best friend wants to go with you on your next trip, and you're considering making it happen. Traveling with dogs is a joy, but it's also an activity you need to consider carefully before you do it. Here's what you need to know to make sure your trip with your dog is the best it can be.
Before you leave
These are major things to handle before you go on your trip. These will help you determine if your dog is healthy and ready enough to travel with you.
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Consider your dog's health
Before you travel with your dog, you need to make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel. A healthy dog can better handle the stress of travel, and knowing your dog's health is clear helps prevent on the road emergencies.
Make sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date. Some hotels or other areas may not allow dogs without up to date vaccinations.
If your dog is going with you on an extended trip, a fast checkup from your veterinarian can help ease your mind.
Be sure you have your dog's regular food and any medications required to maintain health. This helps cut down on your dog's stress and ensures that no major hiccups happen due to food-related issues.
Have an emergency plan. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations for handling any doggie emergencies and check out emergency vet locations where you're going, just in case.
A healthy dog can handle travel and stress much easier, so be sure your pet has regular vet checkups, even if you aren't planning to travel soon.
Your dog may be well trained, but a lot can happen on the road. You'll need to be sure you have the best chance of finding your dog if something happens and that people know what to do if something happens to you.
Get a leash, collar and dog tag with up-to-date information so that people can contact you if something happens.
Vaccinations should be clearly labeled on your dog's identification so that there are no mixups or misunderstandings.
If you plan to travel often with your dog, you may want to consider permanent identification methods like a microchip so that you have the chance to be reunited even across great distances.
Also include proper identification for yourself. If something happens to you, people handling your dog while on your trip will need to know who to call and how to handle it.
You should always have proper information available for your pet just in case you are incapacitated. That way, those handling your dog will be able to make the best decisions until your emergency contact arrives. Likewise, if your dog is lost, proper identification ensures the best outcome in an emergency.
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Have a practice round
If this is the first time you're traveling with your pet, you should consider practice rounds to help your dog get accustomed to the process.
Go for short rides in the car. Don't expect your dog to be ok with a thousand mile round trip if your dog has never spent any time in the car.
Allow your pet to explore the crate. Once you've settled on the right crate and made it comfortable, allow your pet to sniff around the crate. Eventually, place your dog in the crate for short periods, allowing the dog to get used to being in there for longer periods of time.
Don't wait until the last minute to help prepare your pet. For the first trip, it may take quite a while to get your pet used to the environment. As your pet gets more used to traveling, you'll be able to go with fewer practice rounds.
It's so important to manage expectations and help ease your pet into new situations. That can go a long way to having a great first trip.
During your travels
As you travel with your dog, there are things you can do to ensure your dog remains comfortable. You may have gotten over the initial hurdle, but you still need to stay on top of things.
Ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Burning off excess energy can help your dog be less destructive in unfamiliar places and help alleviate anxiety during the traveling process. Plus, it assures your dog that you're still around through a favorite bonding activity.
Reconsider sedatives. If your dog cannot handle the traveling process, it's best to make other arrangements. Sedatives are dangerous if used regularly and will only cause your dog more distress in the long term.
Ensure you're following all the rules. Don't book hotels that don't allow pets, no matter how quiet your dog is, for example. Thorough research into the rules and regulations before you go helps reduce surprises and keeps unexpected emergencies from happening.
Continue with your pet's regular medications and treatments so that you don't risk interruptions in care. For example, if your pet is scheduled for a flea treatment while you'll be gone, be sure you pack the treatments.
Take the time to research the rules at your destination and keep your pet in your presence. Your pet may be nervous, and being without you could make it worse.
Special considerations for traveling
As you're making your preparations, you should think about these special situations. Your dog needs to you handle all the safety and security concerns and relies on you to have a plan. Here are a few things to think about.
Is my dog safe while flying?
If you plan to fly with your dog, you'll need a good plan. Only the smallest dogs will be ok flying in-cabin with you, and even then, your dog will have to be ok in a seriously confined space for long periods.
If your dog is larger, you might consider a relocation agency to ensure your pet's safety. If it's a short trip, read up on your airline's safety record flying pets and ensure your pet's crate follows all airline regulations for space and water.
You can request to know your pet's status once on board to ensure they've loaded the crate onto the plane. Talking to employees about your dog is an excellent way to make sure everyone knows that a dog is on board the plane and traveling with you.
Once you land, check your pet out for any injuries or signs of distress. Make sure your dog has immediate access to water in case they didn't drink anything during the flight, and allow the dog time to walk around outside to reorient.
How do I find dog-friendly lodging?
The internet makes it much easier to find places that are amenable to dogs. Check the hotel or lodging website to see if they have regulations for dogs, and it never hurts to call and talk to the hotel directly.
Be aware that hotels may have individual size or breed restrictions, and even if your hotel allows dogs, excessive noise may compromise your reservation. Ensure your dog truly is comfortable staying in the hotel and never leave your dog unattended in an unfamiliar place.
What tech tools make travel easier?
Exploring the latest tech tools to keep your dog safe while on the road may help keep things going smoothly. A few good ideas could be:
GPS trackers — Pet collars that use cell networks to show your pet's location can help you find your dog faster in unfamiliar places. These options are often simple add-ons to your cell phone plan and can give you peace of mind.
Pet-themed travel apps — These apps can help you plan your vacation out to the letter and leave nothing behind. They can also help you find a veterinarian in an unfamiliar place or coach you through basic first aid.
Travel partners with tech solutions — Delta Airlines is rolling out new technology to help better track and care for pets while moving through the airlines. Look for these types of tech solutions when you travel and choose those types of partners.
Can my dog take medications?
There are a few different medications you can keep on hand to make your dog's travels easier.
Tums — Tums are safe for dogs with proper dosage to help relieve tummy troubles and minor indigestion. Check with your veterinarian to make sure that you give the correct dosage.
Benadryl — Benadryl is another medication suitable for pets and can help alleviate itchy skin and minor allergic reactions.
Anxiety medications — Sedatives aren't for your convenience, but at your veterinarian's discretion, you may be able to get medications to help calm a dog that's having trouble with a transition. These should be used sparingly and only at the direction of your long-term veterinarian.
Having the best vacation with your best friend
Traveling with your dog can be a rewarding experience for you, no matter how long you're gone. With good preparation and some research, you have the best chance of helping your dog learn to love traveling just as much as you do.
Use these tips to plan your trip with your dog and ensure safety and security from beginning to end. Your dog wants to be with you, and the more prepared you are to care for your best friend, the better.