The kids are counting down the weeks until summer break, and soon it will be vacation season.
For pet owners, travel comes with inevitable complications.
Leaving the family friend at home means entrusting someone else with his care, and perhaps spending a great deal of money on dog boarding.
But taking an animal along on a family voyage can entail a huge number of conundrums; each night on the road means finding another pet-friendly hotel; flights suddenly involve a bunch of new costs, rules and equipment, and as anyone with a canine companion knows, a dog traveling in a car for hours can make a pair of six-year-old twins seem positively placid.
If living without your four-footed friend will take some of the joy from your summer journey, though, here are some tips for traveling with a dog.
1. First of all, crate your dog or buckle your dog in. If your car is involved in an accident, your dog is at high risk of injury if he isn’t restrained. Get a pet seat belt, put your dog in a travel crate (big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around) get a pet car seat or a pet barrier. That’s not just to save your dog’s life. It might save yours. As many as 30,000 accidents per year are caused by unrestrained pets in a vehicle.
2. Microchip and collar and tag your dog. If your dog gets away from you while you are out of town, getting him back is going to be massively more difficult than it might be at home. You may find yourself staying many extra days in a strange city, afraid to go home without your companion. And make sure you have your pet’s medical records handy.
3. Never EVER leave your dog alone in a car. Cracking the windows won’t keep your dog from overheating. Even 10 minutes in a car on an 85-degree day can inflict 110-degree heat on your pet. If you are traveling alone with your pet, get your dog into the hotel room before you head to the grocery store. Tether your dog safely outside the car if you have no option but to go into a store and leave him outside.
4. Carry a gallon of water for your dog.
5. Make sure your dog gets regular chances to exercise on travel days. Every two or three hours, let him out and walk or run him, especially if he’s riding in a crate.
6. Be aware that dogs are prone to motion sickness. Don’t feed your dog for about four hours before you travel or while you are moving. Light, high-protein snacks during rest stops are best.
7. If you are flying with your dog, be prepared and have his health records; you’ll need them. Don’t feed your dog for several hours before flight time.
8. If your dog howls or barks in the hotel room, which can be horrifyingly embarrassing, walk him or run him to calm him down.
9. Make a travel kit for your dog. Put in a favorite toy or blanket, what medications he needs, his health and vet information, a pet first aid kit, a bowl for food and water, a pooper scooper and bags, a leash and grooming supplies, as well as a life vest if you plan to be around water.
10. Pets love to travel with their noses stuck out the window, but vets agree it’s not good for them, especially for their ears. Keep them in.