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Are you needing to travel with your dog on a vacation? Dogs can be great travel companions, as long as you think ahead about your pup's travel needs. Check out this dog travel checklist to help you pack your suitcase with him in mind.
Take into consideration your pup's comfort level. Does he get carsick? Can he get in and out of a vehicle without trouble? If you have reason to think your car trip might make your dog anxious it might be best to leave your pup at home with a caregiver or at a kennel.
Always confine your dog when traveling in a car, whether that be in a crate or with a harness, but visit rest stops frequently so he can stretch his legs. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) suggests stopping every two to three hours to allow your dog to get out of the vehicle, have a chance to go to the bathroom and have a drink.
Never leave an animal in a parked car! Even on a cool day, temperatures in a parked car can peak quickly, placing your pet at risk for heatstroke or death. On cold days, your pet could suffer hypothermia in a closed car.
Your dog travel checklist for the car, should include the following items:
- Sufficient food and water for the entire trip.
- Treats... because let's be honest, your dog's a good boy and deserves a treat now and again.
- Dog poop bags.
- A leash.
- A blanket or towel for your pup to lie on.
- A favorite toy or bone.
- A current picture of your dog (to show to people in case you get separated).
- A tag with detailed travel information, including your cell phone number.
- Sunscreen if you're going to be in the sun somewhere. Dogs can get sunburned too.
Research ahead of time to make sure that you find a pet-friendly campground. Most campgrounds have their pet policy right on their websites. The last thing you want to do is show up for a weekend of fun only to find out your pooch isn't welcome!
Visit your veterinarian before you depart to make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations. You also want to make sure your pup is protected from ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects. Just like with humans, dogs can fall ill from Lyme disease and West Nile virus. Talk to your vet about the best precautions and flea and tick medicine to take.
Always keep your dog on a leash. You might be tempted to let your dog roam free, but remember he is not in a familiar location and can easily become lost among the trees. Also, keeping your dog leashed can prevent him from getting into a fight with a coyote, bear, raccoon or other wild animal. Even a small bite or scratch from a wild animal could result in a serious injury.
Your camping travel checklist should include everything that is on the car travel checklist and also a first-aid kit. You should pack the following:
- Proof of current vaccinations.
- An extra leash and collar.
- Soap and water to disinfect any wounds that might occur and keep the wound dry.
- Brush or comb. These will come in handy if your dog walks through the woods and picks up things in his fur.
- Towel for your dog. Trust us, your dog is going to get dirty while camping, so it's a good idea to wipe him down before letting him in a camper or tent.
- Tweezers if he does happen to get bitten by a tick.
- Dog bed, so he doesn't have to sleep on the ground.
- Life jacket if any boating will be involved.
Flying (Domestic and International)
Check your airline's website before you go because policies on pet travel differ. You want to be prepared to meet all the specific rules and regulations before leaving for the airport. It's also a good idea to check twice! Look again at the policies at least a few days before you leave to ensure the airline hasn't changed its rules without notifying you.
Figure out where your pet will fly. Many airlines, for instance, now allow dogs under a certain size to travel with you in the cabin of the plane. Other carriers may not allow animals at all.
Along with figuring out the specifics of time in the air, also visit the website of the airports you'll be traveling through. You'll want to find out the policies on taking pets out of carriers in terminals and whether they have spots dedicated to "pet relief" where your dog can go to the bathroom and stretch his legs. A visit to your veterinarian is a must before you go to update any vaccinations. In addition, many countries have different requirements for admitting animals. Your vet can help you in determining the travel requirements to the country you're visiting and make sure you're meeting all requirements. One of the requirements of some countries is quarantine. Quarantine can last anywhere from a few days to months depending on the country, so be ready for that added expense. The United States Department of Agriculture keeps an up-to-date list of travel requirements by country. Be prepared for last-minute changes because countries can alter their restrictions often depending on health concerns.
Your travel checklist will vary by airline, which is why it's important to check their specific policies. As an example, JetBlue's checklist includes:
- Necessary vaccinations and documentation.
- ID tags.
- Pet license.
- Approved pet carrier.
- Pet snacks and treats.
If your dog cannot ride in the cabin with you be sure to put plenty of water and some food in his kennel, as well as his favorite toy and something that smells like you so he doesn't get anxious on the flight.
Your dog is with you at home all the time, so why shouldn't he be with you while you're enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation. Taking time to prepare your dog for your vacation as you would yourself or your family will make the process much easier so the two of you can enjoy your time together without unnecessary hassles.
Kara Murphy is a freelance writer and pet parent who lives in Erie, Pa. She has a goldendoodle named Maddie.