Vacationing with Your Four-legged Family Members
By Patrick John
By Patrick John
SUMMER HAS ARRIVED! If you’re like my wife and me, you’ve probably been running through possible vacation spots for the family road trip. If you’re REALLY like us, those plans may include your four-legged family members.
Over the last two decades, we’ve taken our dogs on many road trips here in the West. They have fun and get some fresh air, and we don’t have to hire a pet-sitter or leave them at a boarding facility. We had a lot of advice, but nothing prepared us more than actually getting out there and hitting the road. We have a system down, so here’s some tried-and-true tips on traveling with your dog.
First off, make sure your pet is healthy and well enough to travel. If necessary, visit your veterinarian for a check-up, any prescription refills and to make sure vaccinations are up to date. Get a digital record or ask for two copies, then put one in the glove compartment with your insurance and registration. Depending on how far you travel or which states you visit, you may have to show proof of vaccination.
In addition to bringing an ample food supply, prep a doggie travel kit with treats, bowls, favorite toys/balls, collar and leash, brush/comb, towels, lots of pet waste bags and a favorite pillow or bed. Sidonie, our German Shepherd, is 75 pounds, and we make room to get her entire pet bed in the SUV. We also suggest getting a pet first-aid kit to leave in the vehicle. Drinking water is tricky. Like people, dogs can get sick from strange water supplies, so a case of bottled water is the best way to go.
When prepping our vehicle, we cover all flat surfaces with large black trash bags, then a layer of sheets or blankets. Marley is our German Pointer, and she’s a great traveler, but did get carsick a few times during our early road trips. Cleanup is easy when you can just fold a blanket up, put it into a plastic bag and seal it up until you reach your destination.
That destination is the key to a good road trip. Camping is good where dogs are allowed, but make sure you are aware of the risks from contact with wild animals and bodies of water. Beaches are good, too, but you have to check ahead. Many beaches in California are not dog-friendly, and you want to make sure your dog is in a safe swimming/play area if they enter the water. Test it out with them on the leash first. If you’ll be outdoors a lot, make sure your dog has a flea/tick collar or other parasite prevention. Pet-friendly hotels are now pretty easy to find, but nothing beats visiting a friend or family member who’s also a dog lover. While traveling, remember to stop every couple of hours for a potty break and some outdoor play time.
Even though they sleep a lot, most puppies are not good travelers. The prerequisite for a doggy road trip is being potty trained and able to walk on a leash. If you can’t take him/her to the vet or pet store without an accident, your dog is probably not ready for a road trip. If you are using a crate/kennel, make sure it’s well ventilated and big enough for your dog to stand up and turn completely around. Never leave your dog in the car unattended.