Can't bear the thought of boarding your four-legged family member as you head off for the holidays or summer vacation? You don't have to. With a little extra planning, Fido can road-trip with you. Here's everything you need to know about traveling with your dog.
Take a Practice Run
Before you hit the open road, first pay a visit to your veterinarian to make sure your good boy or girl is up to date on vaccinations and healthy enough for travel. Once you get the all-clear, it's a good idea to go on a few short practice trips before you embark on the real thing. This will give you a chance to see if your dog suffers from motion sickness or exhibits any nervous or anxious behaviors about traveling.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, take your dog on a few car rides to fun places like the dog park or a favorite pet supply store so he starts associating the car with something positive, says animal expert and veterinarian Tricia Earley. (This is especially important if most of your pup's car experiences have ended in a visit to the vet.) If he shows signs of nausea (drooling, excessive lip licking, shaking, vomiting), you can offer treats containing ground ginger or a few drops of ginger extract 30 minutes before travel to help settle his stomach, adds Dr. Earley. If that doesn't seem to do the trick, talk to your vet about a prescription anti-nausea medication.
Pack with Purpose
Practice can't possibly prepare you for everything, and for that reason you'll want to make sure you've packed appropriately. While your list will depend on your dog's individual needs, here's a good place to start:
- Leash and collar with up-to-date ID tags
- Food and water (Tip: Now is not the time to try a new food.)
- Waste bags (Tip: In the weeks before your trip, teach your dog to relieve himself on multiple surfaces-not just grass.)
- Dog bed and blankets
- Medical records and vaccination certificates
- A few new toys and a couple of old favorites to keep boredom at bay
- A recent photo of your dog
- Flea and tick control
- Collapsible bowls (Tip: Let him get used to them a week or two before you travel.)
- A pet seatbelt or carseat and hammock to keep him safe and your seats protected
Best Dog Seats, Covers, and Harnesses
Take Plenty of Breaks
Rest stops are essential for a peaceful trip. Experts suggest you take a 15- to 30-minute break every four hours so your pup can do his business and stretch his legs. (You may need to stop more often for smaller dogs or if your pup has a hard time holding his bladder.) Remember: Dogs love routine, so the closer you can keep to your regular walking and feeding schedule, the better.
There's an App for That
Download these four apps that will make traveling with your pup so much easier.
BringFido: A great resource for finding dog-friendly restaurants, hotels, and parks along the way.
Pet First Aid: Designed by the American Red Cross, this app provides quick veterinary advice and insights should you need it.
Petlas: A global database of more than 100,000 pet-friendly places and services.
Rover: Once you reach your destination, use this app to book a pet sitter or dog walker near you.
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