Can you believe it…the holidays are right around the corner! For many people, holiday travel simply isn’t enjoyable without their best pal. If this is you, take a few simple steps to make your trip safe and enjoyable. Just because you have a pet doesn’t mean that you can’t take him with you. To make the most of any experience, it’s important to be prepared. The simple steps listed here can save you aggravation, time, money, or even headaches when traveling together.
The safest way for your dog to travel is in a secured crate or seat belted in the back seat. (Dogs in the front seat are at risk of being killed if the airbag is deployed.) You can even purchase a seat belt made especially for dogs. If your dog is not secured in the car, he could climb into your lap while you are driving, or if you stop suddenly, he could be injured.
Although dogs love to travel with their noses hanging out the window to catch the scents on the breeze, don’t allow your pet to do this. All kinds of dirt and debris can come flying along and catch your dog in the eye—pieces of asphalt, bits of wood, rocks, you name it. A shard of glass can blind him. And of course, never leave your dog unattended in the car.
If your dog is prone to motion sickness and you have no medication for him, try ginger snaps. They work amazingly well to help an upset tummy. If the motion sickness is due to nervousness, consider purchasing a product that contains pheromones. Just spray it in his crate or on the back seat to help calm him down.
Small Dog Car Safety
- Traveling with a small Toy dog that weighs less than 20 pounds poses certain problems. If left loose, your pet may wind up someplace dangerous like under your brake and gas pedals. Have you even seen a small dog looking at you from the rear window or dashboard of a vehicle? While this may seem cute, this kind of freedom can be extremely dangerous to both drivers and pets.
For these reasons you should consider installing a dog safety seat. There are several varieties on the market, and most strap securely into your car in a matter of minutes.
Medium to Large Dog Car Safety
- Next, we have the medium to large-sized dog category. Unfortunately, vehicle safety is frequently overlooked for these family members. Just like you, your dog should be properly restrained when traveling to guarantee a safe and comfortable trip for all concerned.The solution is simple; get a safety harness for travel. These devices attach directly to your car seat belt. While they may look restrictive, they really aren’t. They allow your pet to stand up, sit or lay down in relative comfort.
Nervous Dogs Car Safety
- What do you do if you have a fretful dog? Your dog may get anxious or fearful when traveling, but this is no reason to exclude him from the fun. If you have a restless dog that paces or looks for a comfortable place to hide, this can create a dangerous condition for the rest of the occupants of the vehicle. Any sharp turn or sudden stop can send your dog flying. This can result in a serious accident.Take heart, there is a solution: use a crate or a carrier for your “Nervous Nellie”. Don’t forget dogs are den animals and feel secure in enclosed spaces. If your crate is the proper size, it will offer the den atmosphere your dog looks for in stressful times.
If you need an extra calmative for your pet, you can try flower essences or some of the other natural calmatives on the market today. There is even a biscuit, called the Ultra-Calm® Biscuit that you can give to your dog before your departure.
The safest place for your pet is in the cabin with you, but if your dog is too big to fit under the seat in his carrier, you are usually out of luck. If you have no choice other than to transport your dog in the cargo hold, the ASPCA recommends that you follow the air travel guidelines provided on their website: www.aspca.org/traveltips.
Some airlines suggest that dogs who are more than seven and a half years of age receive an extensive health screening, including kidney and liver screens, or possibly an electrocardiogram, before flying.
It is not a good idea to give your dog tranquilizers before an airplane trip because they can interfere with breathing and temperature regulation at high altitudes.
More Travel Tips
Check for Pet Friendly Accommodations
- Wherever you are going, be it hotel, motel or house rental, get in touch with management before you go to make sure pets are welcome. Find out if there are any extra fees or deposits involved with your visit and whether or not they are refundable.Find out if your dog is allowed to be in the room unattended. If the answer is yes, ask if he needs to be crated. You might even want to consider requesting a room on the ground floor. This will make those evening walks easier.
There are many hotels today that are pet friendly. These include La Quinta Inns, Loew’s Hotels and Orient Express Hotels. If you are a visitor to Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Hotel will make your dog welcome with their “Canine Connoisseur Program”. They have everything from doggie dishes to beds, personalized homemade cookies, a room service menu and even a 24-hour dog walking service. There are many Bed and Breakfasts that also welcome pets. Just make sure you call in advance to get information.
Train Your Dog to Ride
- If the only time your dog gets to go in the car is to take a trip to the vet’s, just popping him in the car and taking a long trip may not be a good idea. Acclimate your dog for the ride ahead by taking short trips. Start out with a trip around the block, then try a bit longer drive. This will show your dog that a car ride can be a fun experience, too.