By Paris Permenter and John Bigley
Spring means more than just a change of seasons: it’s a whole change of lifestyle for you and your dog! After months of indoor activities and bundling up for every excursion, you’re ready to hit the road for some dog-friendly getaways. Whether your trips take you on a doggie day trip or a dream vacation, here are seven tips for making sure your spring adventure fetches plenty of good memories:
Talking to your vet. Check with your vet about your travel plans, asking if there are any special preparations in terms of immunizations or preventatives, depending on your planned destination. Even if your trip will be taking you close to home, you’ll want to ask for an extra copy of your dog’s immunization records to take along in your car. If your dog is on any special medications, be sure to ask for special instructions for storing the medications safely while you travel.
Prepare for problems. We all know that saying: “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” The same applies to pet travel. Take a few minutes before your trip to make a list of veterinarians and emergency veterinary hospitals both at your destination and along your route.Pack a doggie first aid kit and a pet cleanup kit as well with a few supplies for cleaning up that vomit or urine stain—and protect your hotel pet deposit.
Pack Your Dog’s Food. No one wants travel tummy troubles! While it may be fun for us to enjoy new flavors on the road, it pays to pack our dogs’ typical diet while traveling.
Pack the Scent of Home. A plush toy like Tug-a-Mals will absorb the scent of home so taking it along for the trip will help soothe an anxious dog both in the car and in your hotel room. If your dog is too tough for plush toys, the scent of a blanket or dog bed can also be comforting on the road—as can a t-shirt that you wore the previous day.
Confirm Your Plans. Whether it’s a day trip or an overnight getaway, make some calls in advance to confirm that the patio restaurant you enjoyed with your dog last year is still dog-friendly. Double check your hotel reservation and carry your confirmation number—along with the name of the person you spoke with when you booked the room and to whom you described the size and breed of the dog you would be vacationing with.
Buckle Up. Just as you buckle all your human passengers in the car, it’s important both to your human and pet passengers that you safely restrain your dog in the car. A safe dog travel study by Kurgo and AAA revealed that only 16 percent of dog lovers are restraining their dogs in the car. It only takes a minute to safely buckle your dog’s harness to the seat belts or to restrain him in a crate, carrier, or booster seat. Not only will your dog be safer in the event of an accident or sudden stop, but you’ll be less distracted while you’re driving.
Stay flexible. Even with all your plans, stay flexible when traveling. Leave time for that roadside photo session in the field of bluebonnets or that exploration of a new dog park you discovered on the drive.
About the Authors: Pet and travel writers Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the publishers of DogTipper.com and PawZaar.com. The husband-wife team have published 33 pet and travel books and enjoy traveling with their dogs, Irie and Tiki.
Photo credit: DogTipper.com