But while our furry friends are good road-travel buddies, they do need some special attention. Pets deserve the same comfort as humans, so to make their travels as pain-free as their owners’, we here at GuideAdvisor have put together a list of ways to ensure furry friends travel happily and safely. Pre-trip planning may not be the most exhilarating part of your long-awaited adventure, but the end result – smiles and tail-wags – is worth the effort.
ONE MONTH BEFORE TAKE OFF
If Fido doesn’t already have identification tags, order them from your local pet store (make sure the tags display their names, your name, and, most importantly, your phone number).
Microchips that are inserted under the skin without surgery are like insurance policies for pets because, unlike collars, they never come off, so the chances of finding Fido if he gets lost are much greater.
If you plan on taking Fido hiking, make sure he is vaccinated against Lyme disease, which is picked up from wood ticks that like to linger in long grasses and forested areas.
Consider giving Fido a monthly heartworm preventative medication (potentially deadly, heartworm may find him by way of a mosquito while out hiking mountains or exploring other rural areas).
Gather health documents
If you’re traveling to Canada or Mexico, make sure Fido can pass the border with you by bringing along his recent health certificates. Another good reason to travel with your pets’ health documents is if you’re going on a guided museum trip for example, Fido might have to hang out at an animal boarding house where they’ll need proof of good health before being taken in.
To prevent Fido from barking in your hotel room, keep a fan on inside the room to muffle outside noises.
Invest in an appropriate carrier or restraint system
Fido deserves to feel safe too, so make sure he has his own comfortable travel contraption, be it a crate or safety seat (tip: place a long-lasting treat that they can work on, or a toy, in their travel space).
Make sure you have recently-taken photographs of Fido tucked away in your wallet; this way, if they go walkabout, you can show people what to be on the lookout for.
Since not all hotels are pet-friendly, reserve your rest stops, and be sure to speak with the concierge to make doubly sure pets are permitted.
Locate emergency animal clinics along your route, and circle the locations on a map kept in the car you will be driving, or write the addresses down on a piece of paper that you can put in your wallet or glove compartment.
Ditch the pickup truck
More than 100,000 dogs die from falling out of pickups each year, proving that the bed is not safe for them, unless they are kept in a secured crate (or simply bring Fido into the crew cab).
When you go to the dog park, place Fido in his crate in the car, so that he can get used to the environment, ensuring he’s calmer for the big trip.
ONE WEEK BEFORE
Stock up on dog food
Fido may lose his appetite while traveling, but it is still crucial to pack him ample food
Purchase bottled water
Since dogs (and cats) can get ill from drinking water they are not used to, it is worth considering hydrating Fido with bottled water (yes, it’s indeed a luxury, but nobody likes a tummy ache…or the yucky mess that may ensue).
For a more nasally-pleasant experience for all, give a thorough scrubbing a few days before departing.
DAY OF DEPARTURE
Go through the checklist:
- Crate and/or carrier
- Collars (with tags!)
- Dog bed
- Plastic bags
ON THE ROAD
Keep the fresh air a-comin’
To prevent your pooches from getting hot and bothered, crack open the windows, or turn on the A/C.
Make rest areas your go-to
Stop every 2-3 hours for water, a pee, and a chance to let off some steam (tips: to avoid upchuck on the road, give Fido water before he plays).
Full stomachs can lead to car sickness and accidents in the car, so feed Fido small amounts more often.
Never leave your pet alone in the car for extended periods, even if you crack the windows and park in the shade. (If you absolutely must leave for a short while, leave a note on the dashboard specifying your return time).
Weather permitting, pick restaurants that have seating outdoors; this way, Fido can join you under the table.
Keep heads inside
It’s a shame to ban Fido from sticking his head out the window, but it’s for the best; many dogs get injured by road debris or insects flying into their eyes, nostrils or windpipe, and they can also injure themselves by accidentally stepping on the electric window control.
Freeze bowls of water
Frozen water is an easy way for pets to stay hydrated, and it prevents spillage.
Adhere to the pet policies
Ask the front desk about their rules for pets (for example, some places don’t allow dogs to be left unattended, even if they are kept in crates).
Create white noise
To prevent Fido from barking, keep the fan on inside the room to muffle outside noises.
Have Kongs and Bully Sticks at the ready
To calm Fido, offer him a Kong toy stuffed with kibble, or a bully stick; chewing will help him relax, and, eventually, fall asleep more easily.