Photo submitted by Treva DeLoach McMannama
Getting ready to travel with your pet? If your pal is finally ready to hit the open road, there’s only one question left: are YOU ready for your dog to travel with you? Even if your dog seems prepared for a long car ride, there are still some important things you need to do before you leave, while on the road and once you get to your summer vacation destination.
So while you’re searching your house high and low for your son’s swim trunks and packing every type of sunscreen known to man, review our Summer Travel Checklist to make sure you and Fido are absolutely ready for vacation.
What to bring
Buy a seat belt, car barrier or crate to protect your dog. Letting your dog lay on the floor or roam freely around your car is not only dangerous for him, it is dangerous for you. By securing him in your car you can prevent him from jumping around or running away when you open the car door.
Sun protection. If you’re going to an area where you need sunscreen, your dog needs sunscreen. Because of the sensitive skin around his eyes, ears and nose your dog can burn very easily. If your pal is going to be out in the sun make sure you bring some sort of protection. Most children’s sunscreen can be used to protect your pet’s sensitive skin, but make sure it does not contain any zinc oxide. If your dog has short hair you may also want to consider getting a sun suit to protect the rest of his body as well.
Fresh water. Do you know that water at camp sites and road side rest stops can contain trace particles of anti-freeze and other toxins that can hurt your dog? To keep him happy and healthy throughout your trip make sure you bring along water bottles or jugs from home to satisfy his thirst.
Make sure your dog is up to date on shots and bring a copy of your pet’s medical records. Just in case something happens to your dog on vacation you will need a way to prove that he is up to date on his vaccinations and provide medical records. By having this on hand you will be able to get your pet help faster.
Update his tags and take a picture of him. If the information on his tags is hard to read, you need to get a new one made. By updating tags and having a new picture of him with you will help find him if he gets lost on vacation. You may even want to add a tag with you vacation information on it. By putting the contact information of your destination can help locals find you if your dog runs away during your trip.
Research vets, rescues and breed restrictions in the areas you are driving through. If something does happen to your pet on vacation you need to be prepared. Having a list of vets, rescues, and breed restrictions in the areas you are travelling through will not only help keep your pet safe, it can help keep him alive.
Right before your journey begins
Ration out his food. Depending on how much time you are spending in the car, you may need to ration out his food. Label baggies with the date and time your pal needs to be fed and put the right amount of food in. Doing this will help keep him on a schedule and you organized.
Take him on a walk. If you are starting your journey in the morning your dog is going to be full of excitement. Taking him on a walk before you leave will help exhausted some of his energy, which will make travelling a lot easier.
Make sure he goes potty. Make sure your dog has had plenty of time to do his business before you leave! You don’t want to have to stop 30 minutes into your trip because he needs to go to the fire hydrant!
Prepare your secret weapon. At some point your pal will probably become restless. Stop him from barking, whining or trying to get out by bringing his favorite toy treat dispenser. Busy Buddy products, like the Squirrel Dude, let you put treats inside the toy so your pal has to work hard to get his treat. Toys like this will keep him distracted and happy instead of loud and antsy.
Double check and make sure your oven is off, your curling iron is unplugged, your lights are off and you’ve locked every door. This won’t help your dog much, but it will stop you from having a panic attack half way through the trip!
On the open road
Take breaks. It’s unrealistic to think that you can make it to your destination 6 hours away without stopping. You’ll need to let the dog out every few hours to relieve himself and move around. Being cooped up too long without being able to move around may cause him to go a bit stir crazy, which can result in him acting out.
Go for a walk. If your dog seems like he wants to play and your legs are starting to cramp up, pull over and ask if there are any dog parks in the area. Letting your dog play will loosen up his joints and exhaust some of his energy making the rest of your trip much easier!
Keep the car cool. The two most important things your dog needs for a long car drive are fresh water and cool air. It is very easy for your dog to overheat in a car. Keep the AC on and make sure to pay attention to your dog’s breath. If he begins panting heavily or begins to show signs of dehydration you need to pull over and cool him down. Don’t let him hang his head outside of the car window to cool down. Bugs and other hazards can easily fly into his mouth and eyes causing injury and even illness.
Don’t leave your dog alone in the car. Running into a convenience store to grab a bottle of water is one thing, but leaving your dog in the car while you rest in a hotel is another. There are plenty of pet friendly hotels out there that will gladly let your pal rest with you before you continue your journey!
Once you’ve reached your final destination
Acclimate him to his new surroundings. If this is your dog’s first time to the area let him explore his surroundings. Give him some reminders of home, like his favorite toy or bed, to make him feel more comfortable.
Train him. Your dog will need to know where he can go to eat, drink, relieve himself and play. After designating a “potty” spot and letting him relieve himself find a spot to place his water and food bowls and show him where they are so he can begin to learn where everything is. If you brought your wireless containment system or the property you are on already has an in-ground fence setup, turn your system on and place your Boundary Flags to being teaching him where his new boundaries are.
Once you’ve finished relishing in the dog days of summer and begin to head home, do the exact same thing!