As the days get warmer and the allure of adventure grows stronger, many of us are itching to pack our bags and hit the road. While these vacations offer a chance to escape the daily grind and create lasting memories, for dog owners, they can also bring a unique set of challenges. How do you ensure your furry friend enjoys the trip as much as you do? How do you handle their needs while exploring new destinations?
Discover several simple tips to help your next vacation go smoothly for both you and your pet.
Confirm That Your Accommodations are Pet Friendly
Start by researching hotels, vacation rentals, or campsites that explicitly allow pets. Read the property’s pet policy, noting any size or breed restrictions and additional pet fees. Contact the property directly to clarify their policy or inquire about special dog amenities, such as a designated potty area or separate dog beds.
Booking platforms like BringFido and Airbnb offer filters to help find pet-friendly options. Always confirm pet acceptance during the reservation process, as policies can change and availability might be limited to specific rooms or units.
Have Their Identification Ready
If possible, ensure they wear a collar with an updated ID tag, including your name, phone number, and temporary vacation address. Microchipping your dog provides an additional layer of security if they get lost.
Carry a copy of your dog’s health and vaccination records, as some accommodations or activities might require proof of updated shots. Keep a digital copy on your phone for easy access. Don’t forget to bring a recent photograph of your pet, which can be invaluable in case you need to create a lost pet flyer or alert local authorities.
Get the Right Crate
A crate provides your pup with a safe, comfortable space to relax while traveling to and from your destination. Some tips to help you choose the perfect crate include:
- Size: Ensure the crate is large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Measure your dog’s height and length and add a few inches to determine the right crate size.
- Material: Choose a crate made from durable materials such as hard plastic or metal, offering better protection during travel. Soft-sided crates are suitable for smaller dogs or short trips but may not withstand rough handling or turbulence during flights.
- Ventilation: Opt for a crate with ample 360° ventilation to keep your dog cool and comfortable. The crate should also feature protrusions around the ventilation slots to prevent obstructions.
- Secure door: Select a crate with a sturdy door and secure latch with a lock to prevent accidental escapes.
Before your trip, allow your dog to get accustomed to the crate by using it at home, placing familiar bedding and toys inside.
Check the airline or train regulations if you plan to fly or use public transportation, as they may have specific crate requirements.
Arrange a Health Check
Before embarking on a trip with your dog, arrange a health check with your veterinarian. There are several important tips to remember while at the vet, including:
- Schedule a visit close to your departure date, ideally within 10 days, to ensure your pet is in good health and up-to-date on vaccinations.
- Inform your vet about your travel plans, including your destination and any specific activities, so they can recommend any additional vaccinations or preventive measures based on regional concerns.
- Obtain a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) or health certificate if traveling beyond your state’s borders or internationally. This document verifies your pet’s health status and is often required by airlines, hotels, or state/country authorities.
- Discuss motion sickness, anxiety, or other travel-related issues with your vet, and ask for appropriate medications or recommendations to manage these conditions during your trip.
- Familiarize yourself with local veterinary clinics at your destination in case of emergencies. Save their contact information and location on your phone.
Ensure Your Pet Has Access to Their Diet
Maintaining your dog’s regular diet is crucial during your vacation to avoid digestive issues or discomfort. If your dog has specific dietary preferences or requirements, such as fish dog food, venison dog food, or beef dog food, it’s essential to plan ahead. The following tips can ensure your pet has access to their preferred diet:
- Pack enough food: Bring a sufficient supply of their usual food, including extra portions in case of delays or emergencies. Choose easy on-the-go items, like freeze-dried patties or kibble, for quick and easy meals while traveling and keep messier foods like wet food or bone broths for when you arrive at your hotel.
- Research local stores: Identify pet stores at your destination that carry your dog's preferred food. Note their locations and hours of operation for easy access during your trip.
- Portion control: Pre-measure and store your dog’s food in resealable bags or containers to maintain freshness and simplify mealtime on the go. Or, choose dog food that already comes in easy-to-use pouches.
- Food storage: Invest in airtight, portable food containers to keep their meals fresh and protected from pests or contaminants.
- Adaptability: In case your dog’s specific food is unavailable, gradually introduce a similar, high-quality alternative before your trip, ensuring they can tolerate it.
Prepare for Motion Sickness
Motion sickness can affect dogs during car rides, flights, or other forms of transportation. To minimize discomfort, consider these tips:
- Gradual exposure: Slowly introduce your dog to the sensation of movement by taking short car rides before your trip.
- Empty stomach: Avoid feeding your dog a large meal before traveling, as it may increase nausea. Offer a light meal a few hours before departure instead.
- Ventilation: Ensure proper airflow during travel to help your dog feel more at ease and reduce motion sickness symptoms.
- Calming techniques: Use a favorite blanket or toy to provide comfort, and consider calming pheromone sprays or anxiety vests to help reduce stress.
- Consult your vet: If your dog is prone to motion sickness, talk to your veterinarian about medication or other remedies to manage symptoms during travel.
Organize Their Medicine and Other Supplies
To keep your pooch comfortable during your vacation, they need their medication and basic essentials. Whether you’re taking a short road trip or flying across the country, keeping your dog’s medicine and other necessities organized and easily accessible is essential. Ensure that you pack:
- Medication: Pack an adequate supply of your dog’s regular medications, along with prescription details and dosing instructions.
- First-aid kit: Prepare a pet-specific first-aid kit, including essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and a digital thermometer.
- Water: Bring a collapsible bowl for easy hydration on the go.
- Grooming supplies: Pack grooming essentials, such as a brush, pet-safe wipes, and biodegradable waste bags for easy cleanup.
- Comfort items: Don’t forget your dog’s favorite toys, treats, and bedding to provide familiarity and comfort during your travels.
Get Them Used to Riding in the Car
If you are planning a road trip, you’ll need to acclimate your dog to car rides by gradually increasing trip duration. Begin with short drives, praising and rewarding them for calm behavior. Progress to longer journeys, ensuring they feel comfortable and secure in their crate or seat.
Dogs should always be secured inside the car and not left free to roam. The safest way for your dog to travel in a car is inside its crate, which is strapped to the car seat. However, you can also purchase a dog seat belt that attaches to your car’s standard belt clips.
Find Out Pet Requirements and Restrictions for Flying
Contact your airline for pet policies, including crate specifications, weight limits, and documentation requirements. Generally, all crates must have a Live Animal label and labels with arrows showing the upright position.
The airline may also prohibit animal cargo if the temperature outside is above or below a certain range; typically, if the temperature is above 84°F or below 45°F at the departure or layover location, the airline will not allow your dog to travel.
Book early as pet spaces on flights are limited. Consider direct flights or layovers with sufficient time for bathroom breaks and exercise.
Review Your Pet Health Insurance Policy
Check your pet insurance policy for coverage details while traveling. Update it if necessary to ensure adequate protection against accidents, illnesses, or other unforeseen events during your trip.
Plan Bathroom Breaks
Schedule regular bathroom breaks for your dog, particularly during long car rides or layovers. Locate pet relief areas at airports or rest stops beforehand. Always have waste bags and sanitizing wipes on hand.
Enjoy Your Vacation
Thorough preparation and attention to detail are the keys to a successful vacation with your beloved canine companion. By following these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any challenges that may arise. So pack your bags and bond with your pooch in new and exciting environments.