Summertime is travel time and often we want our canine companions to enjoy vacation with us. Busy families sometimes forget that Pup-Pup needs to be provided for on vacation just like the kids, so here are some tips about traveling with your pet.
When traveling by car, make sure to make multiple rest stops to prevent accidents or restless behavior in the car. Remember to leash Pup-Pup BEFORE you open the car doors! The dog rescue groups that we work with get too many dogs found wandering on turnpikes. Purchase a canine seatbelt and make a couple of trial runs in your neighborhood to allow your dog to adjust to the new restraint. Most pet stores carry one or more styles of canine seatbelts. While you're packing for the kids, prepare a doggie travel kit that includes: food, bottled water, bowls, treats, favorite toy, blanket, and plastic bags suitable for poop pick-up and disposal. Also include complete copies of his health record in Pup-Pup's travel kit and don't forget an extra collar with all the necessary identification info in case he loses the one he has on. As part of your travel planning, check ahead for pet friendly hotels and campgrounds. This can be done at www.petswelcome.com.
If you're traveling with your pet by plane, make sure to get complete information ahead of time from your airline. Find out if your pet is small enough to travel in the cabin with you, and what you need to do to facilitate that. Most airlines require advance reservations for pets traveling in the passenger cabin and there's usually a pre-paid fee. Some airlines require you to rent or purchase their in-flight carriers. On travel day, allow lots of extra time at the airport to go through check-in and security with your dog.
Larger dogs cannot travel in the passenger cabin and must fly separately as cargo. There are many risks associated with this practice and most vets and pet professionals don't recommend it especially if it's only for a vacation. The least of the evils is that it's a very unpleasant experience for the dog, and problems multiply from there, including dogs that get lost like luggage, or are injured or killed by in-flight conditions. I'm not trying to be an alarmist here; I just know of many people who've lost dogs who flew in cargo. If you have to fly with a large dog, hold food at least 6 hours prior to flight to avoid vomiting and/or diarhhea, both of which are common problems in-flight. It's not a bad idea to ask your regular veterinarian if a sedative or anti-nausea medication is appropriate.