The holidays are fast approaching and you may be planning a family trip to visit relatives or an outing to the snow soon. If you are like me, you may have already started a list to remind yourself of what you need to do or buy before you leave. You can avoid rushing around last minute right before the trip and possibly forgetting something crucial if you take some steps now to plan for your travels. One of the most important items to start planning for may be where do you house your beloved dog while you are away. I recommend that you contact your house sitter, dog walker, kennel, or favorite boarding facility today to ensure that you can get in their books for the time that you will be away. Kennels and boarding facilities fill up quickly and prior reservations are highly recommended. If you are lucky enough to be able to bring your pooch with you, here are a few helpful tips you might use when vacationing or traveling with your dog.
- If traveling with your pet by car, have a safe place for them to ride, either in a back seat and preferably tethered or seat belted in just like your children! Crates are also useful but keep them cool by using the A/C in the car or providing them with fresh air from an open window or a small fan attached to their crate. There are fans now made for crates that also have a part to them that you freeze so that the air becomes very cool for the dogs as the fans operates. Cooling mats are also available for them to lie on in their crates.
- Have plenty of water available for them or take frequent water and potty breaks.
- Carry extra leashes, collars and ID tags! Collars are available with their ID sewn directly into them as well or you can stop by your local pet store and make extra tags for your extra collars and leashes.
- Carry plenty of poop bags and please clean up after your pet while taking breaks. You may need a long line (20 foot leash) if your dog is like mine and usually does not potty while on walks. The extra leash gives the dog a larger sense of space and can help them feel more comfortable eliminating while still on a leash. Please remember to always pick up after your dog.
- Carry a current picture with contact information on it in case you get separated from your pet during your travels. Create a LOST DOG flier with your dog’s current picture, contact info and your veterinarian’s information in case you get separated from your dog during your travels. If you already have one made up, it can be quickly distributed to the shelters, veterinarians and pet stores in that area.
- Make sure to remember to pack extra food and any medications your dog is currently taking. Write down all of the medications and/or supplements that your dog is currently taking and keep it with you. If your dog does require medications, include a line on your flier like “Charlie needs medications – please see a vet” so that encourages people to act quickly if they find your dog. I would also highly recommend micro chipping your dog to assist in finding him.
- Have your veterinarian’s contact information handy and a current immunization record for your dog, especially if you are staying in hotels. Some hotels require that your dog be crated while staying with them so you may have to start introducing a crate to your dog now to ensure enough time for him to learn to like a crate.
- Have a copy of your Canine Good Citizen Certificate or obedience graduation certificate handy (some hotels may require it).
- Travel with a doggie sweater or warm blanket (as needed, depending on traveling conditions and your dog).
- Plenty of chew toys and treats.
- First aid kit see my website for an example of a canine first aid kit.
- Research where the local dog parks are along the way and know where the dog friendly hotels and rest stops are before you leave from home!
- If traveling by plane, research the airline’s requirements long before you travel as each airline may have different requirements and rules. Most airlines require a health certificate from your vet within 10 days of flying. You may have to start crate training your dog to a different sized crate or have a special vaccination. Label the crate with all emergency contact information including your veterinarian and authorization for vet services if needed. Book your flight either early or late in the day depending on weather conditions. Non-stop flights with fewer take offs and landings would be the best for your pet. If you can exercise your dog the morning before the flight they may rest better in transport. You will probably want to fast your dog 6-8 hours before flight and give water 30 – 45 minutes before flight IF you can urinate him before loading. Be very aware of short nosed breeds such as Pugs, Pekinese, Bull Dogs, Boston Terriers etc., have a harder time breathing and may have a more difficult time if stressed in flight. ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN BEFORE FLYING.
- If you plan on boarding your dog, research each facility and ask family, friends and co-workers for references on where they take their dog. Visit the facilities a few times at different times of the day and ask for a tour. Leave your dog with a familiar toy and or blanket or sleep in a T-shirt and leave it with the facility for your dog and provide your own food and treats. Be sure to be honest about your dog’s needs, fears and your concerns.
Remember too that Chocolate, Poinsettia plants and the water at the base of a real Christmas tree are toxic to your dog!
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