June 3, 2010
Dog Travels, Part II: Life Is a Highway
Summer is the season of barbeques, beach days, and of course, car trips. Most of us will embark on at least one long car trip to our favorite seaside destination or to a family reunion or to another vacation destination. Will you bring your pet along for ride?
Part II of the DogTails travel series tackles car travel with your dog. Far more common and less costly than traveling by air with your furry friend, car travel nonetheless requires careful planning on the part of pet owners.
DogWatch Hidden Fences wants to make this journey easier, safer and happier for you, your family and your pet. The list is modeled after that other summer tradition – weddings. It begins with a seating chart, moves on to the menu and finishes with the proper decorations for your special guest.
The first thing you need to decide is where you dog will sit. Placing your dog in a carrier while he or she is in the car is arguably the safest option. Before selecting a carrier for your dog, make sure the carrier is well-ventilated and large enough to allow your dog to stand up and turn around.
Once you have the carrier picked out, place it in the car and secure it so that it will not move around when the car is moving. Should you have to stop suddenly, this step will help protect your dog and your passengers from injury.
Furthermore, some dogs can get motion sickness, so the less movement they experience the better. Talk to your vet if your dog has repeated bouts of car sickness – they may be able to offer some remedies.
Finally, make sure your dog is comfortable with the carrier before traveling long distances. If your dog already uses a carrier or crate a home, he or she should be fine with spending time in the crate during the drive. However, if your dog has never been confined this way or in this particular carrier, you should practice placing them in it during the weeks leading up to the trip.
If your dog is not able to adjust to traveling in the carrier, then a pet harness is a good option. The harness attaches to the seatbelt, and allows the dog more freedom and a wider range of movement than the carrier while still protecting him or her from injury in the event of an accident.
There are two ways, however, that the experts assert that a pet should NEVER travel in a car: in the bed of truck or with their head out the window. Both are dangerous and should be avoided, no matter how much your pet may enjoy it.
To avoid any unpleasant reactions, bring along enough of your dog’s regular food for the entire trip, rather than supplementing it with new, untested food. The same is true with water. Veterinarians warn that abruptly switching to the local water when traveling can give your dog diarrhea. They suggest your bring along water from home to “top off” the local water, much in the same way you would gradually introduce a new type of food.
Ice is also a must have during these dog days of summer car rides. Your pet’s water will stay cool, and it will help prevent spilling.
Treats are great for the car, but avoid feeding a full meal in transit, as a sudden stop or turn could cause choking. Feed them when you stop to eat, and give them a chance to relieve themselves and stretch their legs. You’ll appreciate it too!
Decorations for Your Guest(s)
Just like young passengers, your dog will want something to play with during the long ride. Be sure to bring along a favorite toy; not only will it keep the dog amused, it will help give him or her “a sense of familiarity,” according to the ASPCA.
You should also bring along your dog’s health records if you are traveling out of state or across the border. You pet may be checked for rabies vaccination certification, so bringing along that certification is a priority. There are also a variety of smartphone apps that allow you to access detailed pet records in seconds – talk to your vet to see if they have this option available. This could come in handy if your pet becomes ill during the trip.
Also, keep track of what your human passengers leave in the car. Be extremely careful not to spill or leave open food and drink such as grapes, chocolate or coffee, all of which are harmful to dogs if ingested. And be sure not to leave your dog alone in your car, as temperatures can spike to dangerously high levels even with the windows open.
Finally, on a lighter note, don’t forget to bring along the camera! A quick stop to let the dog out just might turn out to afford a great view of the country you would have missed had you stayed in the car.
Do you have pet car travel stories or tips that you would like to share? Comment here, or tell us on our Facebook page!
The last installment of our travel series will focus on accommodations and attractions for travelers and their pets. Don’t miss it!
Our dog model is Nina Simone, a cocker-poodle from New York City.