Traveling Long Distance In a Car With Dogs
The idea of taking a cross-country road trip with your dog is something that many pet owners know can either be a joyous experience filled with adventure for you and your canine companion, but could also become a complete disaster with improper execution or planning.
That being said, if your dog is well socialized, confident with new experiences, and loves car rides, a well-planned road trip could be the highlight of their life. Our Memphis vets are here to share a few helpful tips to make your trip as enjoyable as possible for both you and your four-legged friend.
How To Make Traveling With Your Dog Easier
The number one way to make traveling with your pup easier is to start planning well ahead of time! There are so many things to consider when planning a trip with your canine companion that leaving the planning to the last minute is bound to end up being overwhelming.
Below is an easy list for owners to follow to help make their trip go as smoothly as possible for both you and your pup.
Plan Your Route To Be Pet Friendly
Your dog will need to stretch their legs and have potty breaks so make sure the route you take has plenty of safe places to stop, such as rest stops. How often to stop on a road trip with your dog will depend on many factors including age, size, and health. Very young and very old dogs will have to stop more frequently, along with those with some types of medical conditions. Smaller dogs will also need to take more potty breaks as their bladders are so small.
Practice Short Trips Before It's Time For The Big Trip
Even if your dog is excellent in the car for routine trips, a long road trip may still be challenging for them. Make sure to take some longer practice trips so they become comfortable with spending a long time in the car before you embark on a cross-country road trip with your dog.
Plan Your Dog's Meals Ahead of Time
Feed your pet a light meal three to four hours before you leave. While you're on the road, always stop when your dog needs food. Don't feed them in a moving vehicle to help avoid pet car sickness.
Never Leave Your Dog Alone In The Care
Never leave your dog alone in a parked car. It is a safety concern at temperatures higher than 70°F or lower than 35°F. However, passersby may decide to break your window to free your dog if they think they are trapped inside at any temperature.
Pack The Essentials
Packing your dog's food and water, treats, medicine, toys, feeding bowls, poop bags, extra leashes, first aid kit, stain and odor removers, and other supplies will help keep you out of stores so you have more time for adventures. Make sure to include your pet's health records, including recent immunizations.
Pet Identification is a must
While it is important that your pet be microchipped in case they go missing, it is also important to have dog tags on their collar with at least your name and current phone number for easy identification.
Protect Your Dog & Your Car
Keep your pet restrained during the ride. It isn't safe if they are hopping around the car while you're driving. There are products available from harnesses and hammocks to car-safe crates.
A Tired Dog Is a Happy, Well Behaved Dog
A tired dog is often a well-behaved dog, so right before you leave for your trip, take your pet for a long run or a visit to the dog park. This will help ease travel anxiety and allow them to relax in the car.
Give your dog something to distract them from the long car ride. Whether it be a chew toy or a kong filled with peanut butter, your dog will be happy.
Don't Disregard Signs of Anxiety
If you notice your dog is stressed or anxious while riding in the car, we suggest using natural stress-reducing remedies. Pressure wraps like a Thundershirt or calming supplements can all help reduce stress in dogs.
Check With Your Vet
Make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel. If your dog has existing health issues, ask if travel may affect them, and make sure your dog’s vaccines and flea and tick prevention are up to date. They can also provide health certificates that may be required.
How To Stay Safe in All Types of Travel
While traveling by car is probably the easiest, there are other methods of travel that you can choose from and it is important to know how to travel with your dog safely in these instances too.
Travel by Plane
Flying with dogs poses a risk to animals with short nasal passages such as bulldogs and pugs. They are more likely to have problems with breathing and can suffer from heat stroke quickly. If you must fly with your dog, ask about them traveling in the cabin with you. Depending on the airline's rules, this may be an option for smaller pets, but it will require advanced planning. Don't wait until the last minute.
You will also need to visit your vet and get a health certificate that is dated no more than 10 days before your trip. Check with the airline to make sure you have the right type of carrier.
Travel by Train
Amtrak trains only allow dogs who weigh under 25 pounds, so traveling with a dog may not be an option. Smaller train companies may allow pets, and many European railways allow pets. Check with the train company you want to travel with to make sure you have all of the required documentation.
Travel by Boat
Some cruise lines allow pets to travel with you, but usually only on ocean crossings. Check to make sure your pet will be allowed in your cabin with you, as some ships confine pets to onboard kennels.
Deciding Whether to Take Your Dog
Your dog is a cherished member of your family. It is important as pet owners that we realize that their lives can be far more fulfilling and enjoyable if we take them farther than just a walk around the block. If you've put in the work to raise a social, curious dog then it can be very rewarding to see your pup traveling the world and soaking in new experiences.
That said, there are times when taking your dog on vacation with you isn't in your pup's best interests. For those times we suggest finding a clean and welcoming dog boarding facility that will allow your four-legged friend to have fun while you're away.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
Our Memphis vets can help you to ensure that your pup has all they need for a safe and healthy road trip! Contact Southwind Animal Hospital today to book an appointment for your dog.
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