As I researched the idea of including your dog in vacation plans, I concluded that, for most dogs, staying at home is the better option. Traveling with a pet involves more than just loading him up and taking off, especially if you will be driving long distances or plan to be away for quite a while. Even with the best care and attention, some dogs are home bodies and never become good travelers, which means that your wonderful vacation can become a nightmare. However, I also know that many caregivers are going to take their furry friend along with them, so please do some careful planning and take safety precautions to make your travel enjoyable for both four legs and two legs.
Every dog needs his own suitcase, packed with essential dog things. Include in your doggie bag:
- Bedding (we suggest NOT washing his favorite blanket…it will have the scent of home on it)
- Bowls for water and food
- Brush and any other grooming tools that you regularly use
- Dog food; for special diets, take extra along in case you can’t find it in stores at your destination. (If you use canned dog food, include a can opener if it’s not in pop-open containers.
- Plastic jug of water or bottled water for your dog to avoid possible upset stomach…water in new areas may contain minerals that a dog needs time to adjust to.
- Supplements that are given and any prescribed medications.
- Crate or seatbelt restraint system for traveling in the car. Practice using your chosen system before the trip. Keep your dog out of the front seat. Air bags can save a human life in the event of an accident, but they can be deadly for dogs.
- Leashes and halters. An extra set is suggested
- Keep identification tags with current information and your cell phone number on your dog at all times. We encourage you to have your dog micro chipped and registered prior to the trip. In the event of an accident, your dog may get loose and consequently lost in a strange place.
- Ramp for senior dog or one with joint problems.
- Towels for muddy paws… small scissors, nail clippers and tweezers. Paper towels can be used in many situations.
- His favorite toys (and possibly a few new ones)
- Her vaccination records and vet health check report. Include your veterinarian’s telephone number, just in case it is needed.
- Basic first aid kit including a first aid book. A good pet first aid book is the American Red Cross
- Spiral bound book, Dog First Aid
- This book even features a section in the back where you can record phone numbers of your vet, a poison control center, and other emergency info. Copies are available through Amazon for about $l2 (And remember if you use the above link, we receive a portion of the profit at NO extra cost to you!). And it is well worth the cost. Eye wipes and ear cleaning solution, and an antibiotic ointment should be included as well as sterile gauze pads and rolls, and tape for securing wraps or bandages, cotton balls, and swabs. Do NOT use human adhesive bandages such as Band-Aids on pets!
- Clean up bags. Responsible pet caregivers ALWAYS clean up droppings.
Traveling with a pet has its challenges and requires a caregiver to be as prepared as possible. The more homework you do, the fewer surprises there will be, resulting in a safe and rewarding adventure for everyone, whether two-legs or four-legs.