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Traveling with your dog can be wonderful.... but it can also be stressful, frustrating or even disappointing.
The good news is that a pinch of forward-planning and a few simple safety precautions can make the whole trip a lot more fun, for everyone!
There are lots of reasons why Fido is along for the ride.
Perhaps you're going on a family vacation - and your dog is a family member, right?
Or maybe you're making a cross-country move, or have to take a business trip at really short notice.
No matter what the reason, this page has all the tips, advice and info. you need to make your joint trip safe and fun... and memorable for the right reasons :)
The idea of heading down the highway at a moments notice, while Fido sits happily in the passenger seat, is appealing but not very realistic.
There are lots of different things which can affect how your trip turns out, here are some of the most important ones:
If you have children you're ahead of the game, because taking a road trip with your dog involves pretty much the same process as traveling with child.
And if you don't have kids yet, let me give you a clue - preparation, preparation and more preparation!!
Although you could take an airplane, or a train, or even a bus on your trip, I'm going to start with the humble road-trip, because it's the easiest route to take.
You're in control of your vehicle, schedule,
route, stops etc. and can tailor the journey to meet the unexpected - which could (and probably will) include motion sickness, potty breaks or stir-crazy behavior.
Here's how to get ahead of the curve and minimize problems by being prepared:
Practice - If you have a new puppy it's important to make sure he's familiar with the car and has been on several short trips before you embark on that marathon drive to Tuscon. If your older dog hasn't had many opportunities for car travel the same thing applies.
few practice runs will give you the heads-up on any potential problems
and give you the chance to adjust your plans accordingly.
Lodging - If staying at a hotel is in your plans, be sure to pick dog-friendly accommodation and remember to double-check their requirements and regulations by calling ahead.
Some hotels have weight limits on the dogs they allow to stay in their rooms, pet deposits, higher room rates etc., and it helps to know what's expected ahead of time.
Spending the night in your car with Fido
on your lap is no way to start a relaxing vacation!
Supplies - When you're traveling with your dog taking certain items with you can make the trip easier, and keep Fido safer too...
Car Safety & Restraints - It's just not safe to let Fido travel unrestrained in your car. Depending on his size and personality there are several different options available.
Smaller dogs can use dog-carriers (pretty much padded, lined open-topped boxes) that are especially designed to be used with car seatbelts. For medium and large breeds a proper dog seat-belt is the safest option.
When you're traveling with your dog, it helps if your little furball is used to a crate. If he is happy in his crate and you have room for one alongside all that luggage they're a very safe way for him to travel.
Crates have the added benefit of giving your dog a safe and familiar place to sleep when you reach your destination, very useful if you're staying in a hotel.
Investigate Your Destination - When traveling with a canine companion, it really helps to plan ahead and find out as much as you can about the area you're staying in. Look for dog-friendly attractions, restaurants, parks and beaches.
Your hotel will most likely have lots of information and don't be afraid to ask other people you see out and about with their dogs - locals will know the best spots and other vacationers may have already had a chance to get 'the lie of the land'.
To make sure things go smoothly and things don't end in tears or trauma, here are a few simple safety precautions worth following...
Be sure that your puppy or dog is up-to-date on all his vaccinations and current deworming medications before you travel.
On your journey Fido is likely to come into contact with lots of new people and pets, and be in unfamiliar places. Not everyone is vigilant about making sure their dog is vaccinated, or healthy, and rest-stops and other public places can be a hot-bed of bacteria and viruses.
If your dog is protected at least he should be safe from the most serious illnesses diseases, but even then it's still a good idea to choose quieter, more out-of-the-way spots for your dog's potty breaks if you can.
If Fido takes any medications regularly, don't forget to take them with you! It won't be fun if you spend the first part of your trip running around trying to find a veterinarian in a strange town.
Too many dogs die of heatstroke every year and in the majority it's due to owners leaving their pets in a car "for just a few minutes".
NEVER, EVER leave your puppy or dog in a car during warm weather (even in cool weather it's not advisable).
The temperature inside your car will rise dramatically. A study done by Stanford University determined that even on relatively cool days (eg. outside temp is 72 F)the temperature inside a car can rise to 117 F in less than an hour). That's deadly.
Short nosed breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs are especially at risk. Heatstroke is very dangerous and often fatal. Don't ever take the chance with your puppy's life.
If you're traveling with your dog to a destination where there's lots of lovely sunshine, you need to know that dogs can also suffer from sunburn.
Surprising isn't it?
White dogs and those with thin coats are especially at risk so be sure to keep Fido in the shade as much as possible.
If you want general tips and advice on taking a dog-friendly vacation, this page has what you're looking for.
Want to know which hotel chains are dog-friendly?
A list of dog-friendly beaches organized by state?
Resources to help you pick accommodation in the US, Canada or the UK?
Just click on these gorgeous chocolate Labs to find out more...