My two pooches generally travel well and accompany us when we go on vacation. Not all of our past dogs have been as easy, and over the years we’ve gotten pet-sitters for the ones that were not happy traveling with us. Here are some of my tips, Melissa’s tips and some I’ve gathered from friends and other sites to help make traveling with pets safe and fun.
1. Go to the vet. Knowing that your pet has updated vaccines is necessary if you board your pet at your destination and also helpful if there is an emergency. Carry the papers with you.
2. Tags aren’t just for luggage. Whether you travel by car or plane, pets should always have a sturdy collar with home address and telephone number on a tag. You may want to put other emergency info on the tag too.
3. Pack and plan for your pet like you would for any other member of your family. Pets like the comforts of home – bedding, toys, brush and dishes. Bring your pet’s food. Traveling is not the time to try a new food and get experimental with your pet’s digestive tract. Also bring extra clean-up bags. Some pets get nervous when they travel and feel the urge to go more often.
4. Use some restraint. Just as humans need seatbelts, animals need some form of safety restraint when in the car. Pet carriers can confine and secure your animal and make them more comfortable. There are also special restraining harnesses that can connect a dog to safety belts.
5. Dogs love the back of pick-up trucks, but… It is estimated that more than 100,000 dogs die from falls from pickup trucks each year. According to the Humane Society of the United States, though, there is no harness or leash that will keep a dog safe in the back of a pickup truck.
6. Some animals get car sick. If your pet gets motions sickness, feed a light meal a few hours before you leave and don’t feed much during the drive. Offer water periodically in the hours before and during the trip.
7. No doggy in the window. Dogs absolutely love to stick their heads out the window and smell the air as it rushes by. Though it’s sad to deprive them of this enjoyment, many dogs are injured when road debris or insects fly into their eyes, nostrils or windpipe. They can also become ill by having cold air forced into their lungs. What’s more, dogs have accidentally strangulated themselves by stepping on the electric window control. So keep the dog inside.
8. Skip the hot dog. Your dog or other pet can’t tell you if he’s feeling hot or cold, so be aware of the temperature. In warm weather, open a window or raise the air conditioning to prevent overheating or dehydration. (Direct sun can be even harder on dark-colored dogs, so consider sunshades if your windows aren’t tinted.) Never leave your pet alone in the car. In the summer, the car’s internal temperature can rise to fatal levels very quickly, even with the windows ajar.
9. Take frequent breaks. A dog’s legs need to be stretched and they need water, exercise and potty breaks at regular intervals.
10. Avoid poison and choking hazards. Some dogs will eat anything (mine will). Ingesting antifreeze, even small amounts can be fatal to cats, dogs, and birds. Consider switching from conventional ethylene glycol antifreeze to a propylene glycol-based antifreeze which is much less toxic.
(This list was adapted from Edmunds)