If you plan to take your dog on a road trip to visit family or to stay in a hotel while on vacation, you need to be prepared with all that your pet could need and plan for your pet’s safety. When the humans travel, we take everything we will need — our toiletries, favorite pillow, snacks, clothes for the occasions and many other things we just cannot do without.
Well, your pets are the same way. They are creatures of habit and have all their favorite things too. Favorite bed, toys, food, treats, bowls and local water. They all need to go with you.
Safety Rules of the Road
Your first concern should be the health and safety of your pet. Visit your vet before your trip to get any refills on medications your pet may need, have the vet check your pet to be sure he is in good health and get a copy of vaccination records to take with you. You also might discuss motion sickness to see if your vet suggests specific medications to control that. You don’t want to start out on a trip only to discover that your dog gets motion sick and is going to upchuck every 25 miles!
Remember — like you, your dog enjoys a pit stop to stretch his legs, breathe in fresh air and go to the bathroom! When you’re taking your dog out of and into the car, be sure to have a leash on your pet at all times. You don’t want to spend your vacation hunting for the escapee family pet!!
Safety in the car is most important. Whether your pet is large or small, you should have a way of restraining your dog. For small dogs, there are wonderful car seats that attach to the seat belt and the dog’s harness can be snapped on a restraint. Snoozer dog beds and car seats are very easy to use and provide safety for pet while you are driving. Another manufacturer – Sleepypod – has been awarded top honors for safety ratings by the Center for Pet Safety for many years. They’re another company we like.
You don’t want to stop suddenly and have 25-50 pounds of dog in your lap! Your dog becomes a flying projectile in a car accident and can be injured or killed, even when your car isn’t traveling at highway speeds. Even if your dog does not have a dog seat, at a minimum keep a harness on your pet that attaches to the seat belt. You can also put up a see-through barrier between the front and back seat. For an SUV or wagon you may already have a barrier between back seat and cargo area.
Important Safety “MUSTS”
Do NOT put the restraint on your dog’s regular collar — only attach to a harness. In the event something were to happen and the vehicle comes to a sudden halt, your dog could choke to death or his neck can get snapped if the restraint is attached to a neck collar.
Be sure your pet is wearing identification with a mobile number where you can be reached any time, anywhere. And if your dog is an escape artist where open doors are concerned, warn the people you are visiting so they’ll be on alert and prepared to run interference, as necessary! And if you’re visiting someone with cute little kids, resist their begging to walk your dog — that can prove a recipe for disaster — don’t take any chances.
If you stop for lunch on your trip, get carryout so your dog can join you. NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET IN A CAR in the summer, even for a quick “minute.” Be sure your pet has fresh water at all times and even though it sounds odd, if you have room — we recommend that you bring along a couple gallon jugs of local water from home. Often, water from unfamiliar places can bring on an episode of diarrhea or worse. Who needs that!!??
And it is always smart to pack a doggie first-aid kit in case something unforeseen happens. Be prepared by stocking your kit with self-sticking stretch bandages, wet wipes, a flashlight, tweezers to remove any ticks, antiseptic and antibiotic ointment plus an anti-diarrhea medication. For other suggestions, check the comprehensive first aid kit for pets list at Dogtime.com.
If you are staying in a hotel, make sure you know all the rules for having pets with you in your room. Find out where the doggie potty area is located and what rules they have about barking. If you are attending a special event like a wedding or graduation and your pet will be alone for an extended time, you may want to call ahead of your trip and arrange for your dog to be boarded, go to day care or hire a professional pet sitter to take your dog out for a walk while you’re away. It can take worry off your mind and give your dog a fun distraction.
If you follow these guidelines, you should have a fun and safe trip with your pet!
If You Have To Leave Your Pet at Home
Sometimes taking your pets on the road with you is impractical or impossible. We can help you out there. If you are in central Virginia / Richmond area, a pet sitter from Pet Pleasers, Inc. will take care of all your pets and your house so it will be almost as if you’re home. Schedule a pet sitter on our website or call us at 804-320-4395.
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.