The holiday travel season is coming up. Many people will hit the road for one last vacation before summer ends. Plus, Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. What are some best practices for travelling with your dog?
Just as you plan for your holiday, plan for bringing your dog along. You don't want to get to airport and find out you have the wrong crate or arrive at your destination and discover that you don't have the proper documents - or, even worse, that your hotel doesn't accept pets.
Find out about pet policies and necessary documentation for transporting your dog both to and from your destination as well as transportation while you are there: airlines, cabs, taxis, rental vehicles, buses, trains, boats, and ships. Each has its own unique policy regarding breed or size, and some will not transport dogs during weather extremes. Just because your friend flew on X-airline doesn't mean that the current policy on the airline you are using is identical. Since hotels and airlines have limited rooms/spaces for pets, book early for both.
If you're flying, try to get a nonstop flight or one with no more than a 2-hour layover, and don't change airlines because you will have to check in again at the second airline. Crate train your dog. Start at least a month prior to departure to acclimate him to the crate or carrier he will be using.
If you're driving, make sure your dog is acclimated to riding in a car in a seat belt with the window opened a maximum of 3 inches. It's dangerous for him to stick his head out the window because debris can fly in his eye. Never leave him unattended in a closed car. Stop every 3-4 hours for potty breaks. (Bring cleanup bags!) That will also help you stretch your own muscles...
Research what vaccines and documentation you'll need so you when you take your dog for a veterinary examination before your trip, your vet will be able to give you not only the necessary paperwork but also specific tips for traveling with your dog - plus an adequate supply of any medications. Also research any vaccines or medications specific to the area you are traveling - for example, heartworm medication.
Unless it is absolutely necessary, don't give your dog tranquilizers before the trip. Not only can he become disoriented, but tranquilizers can interfere with his breathing, especially with snub-nosed dogs like English bulldogs or pugs. Talk to your vet about holistic/homeopathic remedies and/or pheromones.
Put identification both on a collar tag and on what he travels in, i.e., a crate or carrier. Include your name and both cell and home phone numbers, plus a temporary ID with the phone number where you are staying or a contact person. Additional "ID insurance" is to have your dog microchipped or tattooed. Make sure the registry information is current before you leave home. Have a correctly fitting leash and collar or harness. Carry a photo of you with your dog both to help if he is lost and to identify him as yours.
Bring his food, a favorite toy, a familiar bed or blanket bottled water or water from home. Water from your destination may cause stomach upsets.
With a little planning, your dog will have just as much fun on your trip as you do. Bone voyage!