Summer is the perfect time to hit the road with the family. For many, that includes the faithful four-legged family member. Any trip lasting more than a day or two usually requires some kind of trip planning that probably includes a travel checklist.
If the dog portion of your travel list includes only food, water and waste bags, you will not be adequately prepared. You may realize after you already are “too far down the road” that you’ve neglected some essential preparations and failed to pack important items that ensure canine care and comfort.
1. Pre-Travel Checkup
Your canine companion may look happy and healthy enough to hit the road at a moment’s notice. But that doesn’t mean it is ready for a long ride far from home. This is especially true if your plan involves going through different states and staying in hotels and perhaps kennels, knowing that your pup will be sticking its nose and paws into strange flora and fauna at every stop along your route, and snacking on whatever interesting tidbits it can sniff out at every rest stop.
To reduce the health risks, it is always a good idea to make sure that all vaccinations are up to date. Check with your vet in advance of your trip to make sure that your specific furry friend has everything needed for a safe and enjoyable trip. Make sure you allow enough time before you leave to get all necessary vaccines, including one to prevent Kennel Cough if your pet will be in proximity to other dogs. You will also want to refill any medication prescriptions or make sure you have enough to last the entire trip, allowing for possible delays.
If your dog typically experiences anxiety while riding in the car, ask your vet about medications or other strategies for keeping your pet calm. Many dogs suffer from extreme panic and anxiety during thunderstorms. If your plan calls for travel through the parts of the country where thunderstorms are likely, tell your vet and discuss the best ways to help your pup avoid unnecessary stress. For some dogs, a wearable solution like a ThunderShirt can help your pet with thunder, travel stress, fear or and other loud noises, as well as other canine anxieties.
2. Travel Papers
While you are at the vet’s office, make sure you pick up copies of all vaccine records, including rabies certificates, and medical records documenting any health conditions like allergies, as well as prescriptions. If your pooch gets sick or injured and needs to get medical attention far from home, those records will prove extremely helpful to a veterinary health provider needing the correct information for making an appropriate diagnosis and prescribing the best medications for your dog.
3. Getting Emergency Help
Technology has made rendering first aid and finding a nearby vet or animal clinic while traveling much easier. An app like Pet First Aid by American Red Cross (compatible with iPad and iPhone) can bring you peace of mind and put a number of great resources at your fingertips, including:
· Simple step-by-step instructions guide you through everyday emergencies
· Prepare and protect your pet’s health with advice on administering medication, behavioral help and how to act in a disaster situation.
· Early warning sign checker for preventive care.
· Programmable veterinary contact number to be available when needed throughout the app.
· First aid steps for over 25 common pet situations through a combination of text, video and images, in addition to identifying common toxic substances.
· Locate your nearest emergency vet hospital or pet-friendly hotels.
· Respond to pet emergencies with “how to” videos for the common and stressful emergency situations inclusive of size specific CPR techniques.
4. Exercise and Play
Boredom and lack of exercise can be a problem on long trips. Frequent rest stops are essential to allow your canine to relieve itself and get a quick stretch. But your pet will lick you with gratitude if you can supplement relief stops with some real exercise and play.
While your family may be looking forward to an amusement park visit, your canine may be dreaming about a new dog park. One great solution is another app, such as Dog Park Finder Plus (iPad and iPhone), which includes the following features:
· Get Directions to park
· View a list of nearest dog parks
· View a map of nearest dog parks
· Results updates map scrolls
· Search for parks (both list and map views).
· View detailed website park information in the app
· Read and write reviews in the app.
5. Pads and Wipes
Even with frequent rest stops, accidents will happen. Pee pads are a great way to catch pet waste and vomit and can easily be disposed at the nearest rest or meal stop. Wet wipes that are pet-friendly can be crucial to keeping paws clean and free of bacteria and hazardous substances, as well as anything that gets spilled on your canine. Keep plenty of both in the car and a travel bag.
With these five strategies, you will create great memories for you and your dog, and build trust and excitement about your next relaxing vacation together.