Traveling with a Dog:
Traveling with a dog can be a lot of fun, both for your dog and for you. Experiencing new places together is a great way to bond with your furry friend.
However, traveling with a dog should not be looked upon lightly. For your dog’s safety, and for your sanity, you should do your homework well in advance, so that you do not experience any unwanted surprises. Surprises might be nice in some circumstances, but not when you and your dog are hitting the open road (or the clear blue skies) together.
If you're unsure whether your furry kid will make a good traveling companion, consider the following:
Will you be traveling by car or flying?
Each mode of transportation requires very different preparation in order to ensure a safe and comfortable journey. Read our Q&A on dog air travel with Melanie Monteiro, pet safety expert and author of The Safe Dog Handbook for lots of great tips on preparing a safe, stress-free (or at least as stress-free as possible) flight for your precious pooch.
And if you're heading off to your destination by car, be sure to check out our article on dog car safety to start your trip out right.
Is your dog healthy enough to travel?
If your pet is sick, disabled, pregnant or old, you definitely don’t want to subject him to the physical and emotional rigors of air travel or a long ride in a cramped car. As much as you might want to bring him along on your journey, for his sake it’s best to leave him home with a trusted caretaker.
Does your dog have the right temperament to take on a trip?
Buddy will be exposed to many new people, situations and even other animals during travel. If his temperament is not suited to behaving courteously in unfamiliar surroundings, it is probably best to leave him home. Likewise, if he is a dog that does not adapt easily or becomes nervous in strange situations, it is unfair to force him to endure the stress and anxiety of air travel or being shuffled in and out of strange hotels. After all, when traveling with a dog, the point is for both of you to enjoy the experience.
What type of lodging will you be staying in?
Have you explored all of your options and made your arrangements well in advance? Are you fully aware of the hotel’s (or motel/campground’s) policies, such as any additional fees for pets and the type of room you will be given? Be sure to scout out dog friendly hotels or other lodgings before you travel. Again, the last thing you want are surprises when you finally reach your destination.
Do you have health insurance in case your dog experiences a medical emergency while you are away from home?
A pet medical emergency is stressful enough under any circumstance, but even more so in unfamiliar surroundings. Knowing you have insurance to cover your fur-baby’s medical expenses can alleviate some of that stress.
In case of an emergency, have you researched animal hospitals nearby to where you will be staying?
Hopefully, you will not ever need to use such services, but it’s best to be prepared. You don’t want to wait until an emergency occurs to have to find a qualified veterinary hospital in an unfamiliar city or town. Such a delay would cost precious time that should instead be given to caring for your precious baby.
Do you have a list of what you will need to pack for your pooch?
Traveling with a dog requires that you pack for both his safety and comfort.
“Dog suitcase” essentials include a collar with ID tags and an up-to-date rabies tag; any medications your dog needs in adequate amounts; an appropriate pet carrier depending on your mode of transportation; a health certificate from your veterinarian; a bed or blanket; toys; plenty of food and fresh water; warm gear such as a sweater, jacket or boots if you are traveling to a cold climate; and a dog first aid kit.
Be sure that that the contact number on your dog’s ID tag is a cell phone where you can be reached while you are traveling, or leave the number of a friend or relative back home. It is also a good idea to implant a microchip in your dog’s neck, so that you can still be located should you be separated while he is not wearing his collar.
And if you're traveling by car, don't forget a dog car safety harness to buckle up your furry traveling companion so that everyone has a safe and fun ride.
With some thoughtful planning and preparation, traveling with a dog – especially when that dog is your own beloved furbaby – can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for everybody. And just think of all the great stories your dog will have to tell his canine buddies when he returns home!