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Hitting The Road With Your Canine Companion

How to enjoy a safe road trip adventure with your pooch

For many, the arrival of warmer weather means its time for a road trip. Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a day on the lake, there’s nothing like sharing your travel adventure with your pet pal.  In this series of articles, we explore a few measures you can take to keep you and your pet happy and safe as you hit the road.

One of the simplest things you can do to ensure your pet’s safety also happens to be one of the most frequently overlooked: Always, make sure that your pet is wearing a collar with some form of identification just in case he or she slips away and finds herself lost.  Make sure that your dog’s collar is secure and includes a tag with your contact information.  Even better, consider having your dog micro-chipped.  One of the first things that local authorities or vets do when encountering a lost animal is to scan for a microchip. 

There’s no surer sign of great weather than a happy dog hanging his head out the window and drinking up the rushing air.  Unfortunately, this favorite doggy pastime usually means your pet is riding unsecured.  For longer road trips it's best to keep your dog in a car harness seatbelt.  This allows your pup both mobility and the freedom to lay down and stretch out, but also keeps him secured in case of a brake check or accident.

While it’s generally not advisable to let your dog travel by crate in the car, it’s a great idea to bring the crate along on your travels as this “den” can provide a source of security and comfort for your pet at your home away from home.  If Fido’s staying behind in the hotel for the day, this will allow him the comforts of home and will keep him from getting into trouble. While many hotels are happy to host your pet they generally frown upon dogs redecorating hotel rooms.

I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying a doggy essentials bag with my pooch and I when we hit the road.  It’s got everything we need for whatever comes our way – expected or not.  I carry my vet’s contact information; her basic health records (history, vaccines and any allergies).  We also carry a simple pet first-aid kit that we purchased at the local pet store.  I make sure to pack along any medications she’s on; plenty of food and water,  in case we get off the beaten path and decide to extend our adventure another day. We also throw a couple extra blankets in the trunk for impromptu picnics and cuddle time in her crate; an extra leash just in case, and plenty of poop bags too.

Dogs generally travel best on an empty stomach. Even if your pooch is used to traveling around town in the car, a longer road trip could induce car-sickness.  Holding off on the food is fine, but make sure your canine companion stays well-hydrated.  This may mean a few extra pit stops, but its worth the time to ensure your pet stays well.  Try to hydrate at the beginning of your rest stop – gulping down water just before returning to the car can set the stage for car sickness.

Dogs are creatures of habit, so travel can sometimes be stress-inducing.  If at all possible, try to keep your dog as close to her normal routine as possible. Whether this means a long morning walk or an exercise outing in the afternoon, your pooch will be far less likely to be anxious or uncomfortable.  With a little extra preparation, you and your pup can safely hit the road together for your next adventure.

John Cap March 28, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Summertime is prime time for pets to get out and lost. Be sure to have proper, updated pet id tag or your pet will end up in Animal Control and most people don’t understand that they have in some cases less than a week to be retrieved or they are euthanized. Microchips are great but good only "after" the pets already been rescued and the facility hopefully has the proper scanner to ready your brand of tag! Not only are 90% 0f non-id lost animals not found---over 75% of all domestic animals captured nationwide by Animal Control facilities are euthanized! There's a great new pet rescue tag service called "Pawtags Rescue"- where each tag has its own id number and Live trained 24/7 Operator rescue services for $10! Their service allows you to develop a profile with up to ten contact numbers, listing rabies id, microchip info, city licensing, vet and medical info along with the pet’s profile. When someone finds your pet the Operators access this confidential info and use it with Google Maps, 3-way conferencing, etc. to get your pet home or to a safe place until picked up. The service also auto-creates a PAWS Alert poster to print or PDF and more importantly gives an owner an Animal Control Facilities zip code search that provides the only locations in 50 square miles that intake lost pets! This is so important since in some cities animals only have 3 days to euthanization!
CeliaSueHecht writer March 28, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Good tips about dog travel. If you and your readers would like to know more about pet friendly cities including pet friendly hotels, my dog Cici and I have visited quite and few and write about them on our blog, Have Dog Blog Will Travel. Here is a page with top pet friendly cities in California. http://celiasue.wordpress.com/free-guide-to-pet-friendly-cities/

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