Traveling with pets is just like traveling with children in that it requires a little work and preparation but the end result is a rewarding vacation. Bringing your dog along can really complete the trip because after all, your pup is apart of the family. Whether traveling by land or air, being prepared for the unexpected can make those speedbumps much smoother to get over.
Regardless of how you’re getting to your final destination, a check-up with your regular veterinarian is always a good idea. You want to make sure your dog is healthy and up to date on vaccines. This is also the perfect opportunity to get any necessary preventatives, such as flea and tick if you’re going to be outdoors - camping or at the beach. If you’re flying, check with your airline to see if they require anything particular such as vaccines or a health certificate. Each airline may have different requirements, depending on where you’re flying. If your dog needs sedatives to fly or while in the car, be sure to discuss this during your appointment, as well. And keep in mind that if your campground or airline requires proof of a rabies vaccination, the tag is not sufficient, they will require the certificate issued from your vet.
In the event your dog gets lost or strays from the pack, identification is crucial. Make sure your dog has ID tags on his/her collar with uptodate cell phone numbers; not the home phone since you won’t be there. Since you’ve just visited the vet prior to your trip, bring those certificates with you in case you need to visit a vet unexpectedly at your destination. Having some prior medical history at a new vet in a new place will be helpful in treating your pet.
Do Your Research
Don’t assume that where you’re going accepts pets just because it’s outdoors. In fact, some campgrounds and beaches don’t allow pets. Confirm that the beach, park, or campground you are visiting allows pets and ask if they require any particular vaccinations or have size/weight cutoffs. Especially if you’re spending the night at a hotel, make sure they accept pets, have any limitations and expect to pay an additional fee.
Instead of bringing the whole bag of food, pack single serving meals in ziplock bags and do the same for bones and treats depending on how long you will be away. Bring a collapsible or travel pet dish for food and water. Pack bottled water for the drive. Bring appropriate toys for where you are going. If you are visiting a beach or park, bring tennis balls and floating toys. Also pack toys or treats that will keep your pet occupied during the car ride such as kongs or bones that take a while to consume. It goes without saying that you should pack a leash.
It’s important to establish a safe environment for your pet when driving. Some dogs are comfortable just laying on the seat while others may require riding in the cargo space of a truck with proper gating. If your dog isn’t accustomed to car rides, take a few test runs to figure out what works best or consult your veterinarian. Cats should always be crated in the vehicle. While en route to your vacation spot, stop every few hours - not only for a bathroom break but so that your dog can stretch his or her legs and not go stir crazy. Never leave your pet unattended in the car.
If you’re flying, check with your airline for kennel dimensions if your dog is traveling in the cargo deck. If you have a cat or small dog that can fly with you in the cabin, still check on carrier sizing and consider a muzzle if your dog is less than friendly with others.