Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vacation with your Canine Companion

Summertime means travel time to most of us.  And nothing can be more rewarding than taking your beloved canine with you on a travel adventure.  Before you pack up your pooch, check out these tips on making traveling with your dog safe and as hassle free as possible.

Preparing for your journey:

1) Research your destination: Where will you be traveling with your pet?  Are there certain restrictions in the area regarding dogs?  Are there dog friendly restaurants or parks for your pooch?  What are the leash laws in the area? Will you be traveling by plane or by car? Sometime airlines place restrictions on pet travel during certain time of the year, especially in the summertime because of the heat. Before you plan on taking your pooch on vacation make sure you and your pet can arrive safely together. Check out this link for dog friendly travel:

2) Accommodations: Where will you and your pet stay during your vacation?  Make sure hotels are dog friendly.  Even if they say so on the Internet, it's best to call and speak to someone at the hotel to confirm that pets are allowed and become familiar with the rules and regulations regarding their stay.  Check into the fees and rates so there are no surprises at check-in. Check out this link to find dog friendly hotels: Find Dog Friendly Hotels

If you plan on renting a vacation home, many websites offer searches that allow you to choose dog friendly options.  Again, it's best to confirm pet policies with the landlord of your vacation rental to make sure policies are up to date.  Check out Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO):

If you are staying with friends, make sure your friends are really okay with you and your canine companion staying at their home.  Again find out about any restrictions your friends or family may have regarding where your pet will be allowed.  Is it outside only?  Locked in a laundry room?  Will you need to bring his kennel?  If you detect any hesitation on the part of your friends on the subject of your dog, make arrangements for other accommodations for your stay.

Boarding facilities. Even if you plan on keeping your dog with you during the duration of your stay, it's a good idea to have a back up plan in place should you need it.  Perhaps you'd like to take a day trip where dogs aren't welcome.  Or perhaps an emergency causes you to have to take your dog somewhere safe until the problem is resolved.  Again ask for recommendations from friends and family or give a local vet a call to get boarding recommendations.

3) Veterinary care in the area: No one likes to think about needing a vet while on vacation, but reality is sometimes medical care for your pet is necessary when you are away from home.  Check out local veterinarians.  If staying with friends and family ask for recommendations.  Stop in and visit the local vet upon arrival to make sure it's a place you feel good about taking your dog.  If you are unfamiliar with the area, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) awards accreditation to veterinarians that are held to a strict Standards of Practice Guidelines.  Check out this link for recommendations on AAHA accredited veterinary hospitals in the area you plan to travel:

4) Vet check at home before you leave: Prior to your travel, take your pooch into visit your normal vet.  Get updates on vaccines, refills on any medications you might need and have the general health of your pet checked out.  This is the best time to redose on your flea and tick preventative as well, especially if you plan to hike or camp on your vacation.

What to Pack:  The size and type of suitcase you bring for your pooch depends on your final destination and the activities you plan to do together.  Are you just visiting friends - hanging out on the back porch, sipping cool beverages and tossing the ball around or are you planning a camping and hiking adventure?

1) Bring plenty of your dog's current food.  Abruptly changing food can cause stomach upsets.  Your dog may be even more susceptible to this type of problem in a new, strange environment where he might already be a bit anxious.  So pack enough of his current food for the duration of the trip or make sure his current food is available in a store near your vacation spot.

2) Bring your dog's medications.  If your dog is on scheduled medication, plan ahead and make sure you have enough for your journey.  Just because you go on vacation together doesn't mean that Fido should take a vacation from his meds.

3) Bring your doggy ID. Leashes, collars and harnesses are a must.  Make sure your dog collar has identifying tags with current information on them.  Cell phone numbers are best as that way you can be reached directly in your current location should your dog get separated from you.  Microchip, microchip, microchip.  If you have never microchipped your dog, traveling with your dog is a great reason to do it.  Thousands of dogs are reunited with their families each year because of microchips.  Microchips are a sure fire way to ensure your dog will be identified if he is found.  Make sure your chip is currently registered with current information.  Update it before you leave if need be.

4) Other doggy equipment.  Don't forget collapsible food bowls, doggy poop bags and dog beds.  Kennels are great for traveling too.  Especially if you dog is used to his kennel, he will feel safe in his familiar surroundings especially with his favorite blanket or toy to snuggle.  Your dog's favorite toys such as retrieving dummies, Nylabones and the beloved Chuck It are all toys that travel well.

While a little extra prep goes into traveling with your pet, the memories that you can make with your canine companion can last a lifetime.  Try it.....I bet your pooch thanks you for it.....