How to Make Your Vacation Dog Friendly
Vacations! We look forward to traveling, relaxing and lots of fun for those precious few days we have freedom to go play. Taking your Best Friends can be much more fun than leaving them behind, no matter how much you like and trust your pet sitter. However, taking Rover along requires some simple preparations for a truly enjoyable vacation for everyone.
Tips for traveling with your dog…
Food – It may seem obvious, but take food your dog likes and is used to eating. Running out of their normal diet while away from home could be disastrous! You may not be able to find the same food while you’re away, and sudden changes in diet may create a gastrointestinal upset guaranteed to put a damper on the fun.
- If you do run into a problem, I can recommend Optagest, a probiotic/prebiotic available in convenient travel packs, feeds both ends of the digestive tract and can help clear up tummy upsets and solidify otherwise runny output.
- Yogurts can be used also, but read the labels carefully to avoid artificial sweetener ingredients like aspartame, xylitol, splenda, etc. Always consult with your veterinarian if your dog has diarrhea or tummy distress. On the road, placing your dog’s food bag in a bucket or plastic crate can help prevent spills and split bags, as well as dogs deciding to see how much he is able to eat before you catch him. (Of course, none of my students have dogs who might attempt this. 😉
Update vaccinations – A quick check up with your vet to make sure your dog is healthy and has had any necessary vaccines. Keep in mind, required vaccines may differ where you are going, it is worth the cost to prevent problems later. While you’re there, get a copy of the medical records to take with you. You will probably need to provide them at border crossings and customs, and if you have to go to a vet during your trip, the charts will be very helpful.
Medications – Ask your vet about antihistamines in case of allergies, bug bites, bee stings, etc. And don’t forget flea and tick prevention, and even anti-anxiety and motion sickness medications. We use natural helpers such as ThunderShirt, Rescue Remedy and Happy Traveler.
First Aid Kits – These should include bandages and wraps appropriate for fur, as well as blunt scissors. Being prepared for the basics, just in case can give you peace of mind and help you enjoy your trip. Sunblock, just like us, dogs can get sunburns, so pay attention to noses, bellies and any areas where fur is thin or non existent.
Talk to your vet – Get a vet reference for where you are going if possible, and know where you can find ER vets, and where 24 hour veterinarians are…just in case. It’s also a good idea to find reputable place to board your dog where you are traveling to, again just in case you should have an accident and need to place your dog until you can get him safely home, rescued by friends or until you can pick him up.
Water – If possible, bring water from home and bring a collapsible or non-spill bowl. Water quality, hardness and ingredients vary greatly just in the Seattle area. Imagine how much different it can be in other states and countries. Having water from home can be beneficial even if you mix the two, diluting the new water with that from home. And remember to keep your dog hydrated, especially in warmer climates where your dog will need more water.
Rest stops – Plan ahead, so you find rest stops that allow your pets a place to stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Of course, you will have remembered those very important “doggy doody” bags, and you will gladly clean up after Rover. This is a great time to make sure your dogs’s stool is normal, free of worms and has good consistency – not too hard or too soft.
Hotels – Pet friendly hotels are out there, and some cater to your furry friends as much or more than they do you. Crates are a must for most hotels, regardless of how well behaved your dog is, and are mandatory for air travel. Check with your airline, but generally they have specific regulations for hard plastic crates with identification tags and stickers. I am not a fan of wire crates in any circumstance, as they don’t give your dog the feeling of enclosure they need and crave in a den. Plastic crates, like the airlines want, work well, as do soft sided zip up crates. We are an authorized dealer for XXXX and can take orders for you of any of their products. Having used their crates at shows and special events, I can attest to their quality, they are very nice with good zippers, are well made, and built to last.
Restraints – Crating in the car is generally the best option, but not all cars are built to hold a large crate, luggage, passengers, and everything else. Options for seat belting your dog in place get better every year. Small dogs now have car seats available that are padded, fur lined and boosts them up to look out the window. They still need a restraint to keep them in place, preventing them from interfering with the driver, or becoming a projectile in case of an accident.
I always carry a spare collar with ID tags, Wonder Walker and leash just in case I lose my original set. ID tags have my cell phone number as well as numbers for anyone traveling with me and at my destination.
I’ll write more traveling tips in future articles, but for now, this should get you started in planning a vacation that includes your dog.
At Pawsitive Steps Dog Training, I care about the welfare of your dog, about helping him interact in his world, and about his training. My training techniques are based around one simple question: What do you want and expect from your dog?
I believe that the most effective method of dog training revolves around teaching your dog what you want them to do, how to behave, how to act in their environment, and what appropriate behaviors are under given circumstances and situations.