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home : columns : columns July 22, 2017

12/17/2013 11:30:00 AM
Should your pets travel with you?
Jasper ready for a family vacation in the car. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Jasper ready for a family vacation in the car. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

You've been invited to spend the holidays at your brother's house in San Diego, California, and decided to hit the road for the 15-hour drive, bringing along the whole family. But what about your four-legged kid? Should he go along too?

Although it's tempting to bring Fido with you, you have to consider that some animals aren't suited to travel because of temperament, illness, or physical impairment.

You've decided that it wouldn't be a family car trip without Fido, but if you want everyone who's along for the ride - two-legged and four-legged - to have fun, you need to do some research. With a little advance planning both you and your furry pal can enjoy the trip and have things run smoothly.

If your pooch isn't used to going with you in the car, try taking him on short car rides around town a couple of weeks beforehand. It will reveal any tendencies to get overly nervous or carsick.

If your dog is used to a crate, it would be a good idea to bring it along to prevent any scratching or chewing things in the place that you will be staying. If he isn't familiar with a crate, it might be time to get him acclimated to one.

What if your pooch gets loose while away? Pets can be unpredictable, especially in unfamiliar surroundings with all the new sights, sounds, and people. Before you leave make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations and all license and contact information. Microchipping is a great idea, and make sure he has an updated collar tag. Bring along a copy of his medical history, because veterinary emergencies can happen anywhere.

There are more pet-friendly places to stay nowadays, but not every hotel is dog-friendly, so research where you will stay along your route. Make reservations ahead of time to assure that you have accommodations.

Pack everything your pet will need while you're gone. Favorite toys offer familiarity to your pooch and something to do, especially if left alone in a hotel room. Bring treats for rewards. Don't forget any of the essentials, like food, water bowls, leash, bedding and medication.

Make sure you bring plenty of bottled water along for your pooch. Stick to your dog's normal feeding schedule and make sure you bring along enough of his food for the entire trip. They may not have your pet's regular food where you're going.

Most dogs are like their humans: they can't go too long without a potty break. Plan to stop every few hours. Look for places where your dog can get some relief, and also enjoy a little exercise, which can help him relax more in the car. Most rest stops have a designated pet area

Since you don't want to leave your pooch in the car alone, instead of eating in a restaurant, pack a lunch to take along. You can either eat in the car or at a picnic spot close to where your dog can see you while in the car. Remember extremely cold or hot weather can be deadly to animals.

Once you've reached your destination and your host is happy to see Fido, make sure you find a special place for him to hang out. Find a cozy area where you can put his bed, water and food and some favorite chew toys around. You might want to put him in the same room with you at night so he can feel less anxious and more comfortable in his new surroundings.

Try to take your dog with you everywhere you can on your vacation. He will enjoy walking and seeing the sights on the beach or bounding through the snow, as much as you and the rest of your family.

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