Summer is the time that many of us take to the roads for vacations and general traveling, and many of us like to take our furry friends with us. If you decide to take your pooch with you, there are many things to consider before hitting the road.
The first thing is to make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date. Also, check with your veterinarian to make sure your pet does not need additional vaccinations for the places you plan to travel to.
Have your vet make you a “boarding certificate” or another type of vaccination record for you to take with you. My veterinarian actually has a small ID card that has the veterinarian's information on one side and a shot record, along with a photo of the pet, on the other. Other veterinarians will simply print off a copy of the dog's vaccination record for you.
If your pet requires particular medications, be sure you have more than you expect to need for your trip and, if possible, I would recommend that you take a hand-written prescription with you in case your plans change and you are not home as quickly as you had anticipated.
You also want to make sure if your pet is microchipped or tattooed that you have that information with you. A current picture of you with your dog also aids in identification purposes. Make sure your pet has a secure-fitting collar with an ID tag attached that has your current cell phone number on it.
Make sure that wherever you will be staying is pet-friendly. Personally call where you will be staying and ask about their pet policies. Do not trust websites to be up to date and do not trust last year's policies to be the same this year.
While many more pet-friendly places are popping up all of the time, many others are also dropping their pet-friendly status, due to bad pet parents (those that don't clean up after their pets, those that allow their pets to destroy items, those that “bend” the rules, etc.).
Make sure you pack enough of your pet's food for your trip, or that you personally verify that there is a location convenient to where you are staying to purchase your pets food. With the increased stress of traveling, you really don't want to add stomach upset because of a change in your pet's diet, which can result in vomiting and diarrhea. (Do plan for the possibility and have emergency cleanup supplies with you.)
Make sure your pet does not get carsick. If your pet is not used to riding in the car, you will want to start preparing it for the trip well in advance. Take the pet for short trips first, and keep gradually lengthening the trips until your pet becomes an old hand at it and actually learns to enjoy it. If your pet does not enjoy car rides, you should consider leaving the pet home with a pet sitter, boarding facility, etc.
Make sure you carry some water for your pet in the car with you and a bowl/bucket for them to drink from. Make sure you have a sturdy leash in the car with you. Make sure you have cleanup bags to pick up after your pet.
Even if your trip is only an hour or two, plan for an emergency. You could run into bad traffic, your car could break down, you could encounter a long detour, etc. It is always better to be prepared for the emergency and not need it than the reverse.
If your trip is a lengthy one, be sure to stop often and get your pet out to relieve itself and to stretch its legs and to get some fresh water. Once you arrive at your destination, allow your pet to explore its destination, and have someone stay with the pet until it feels comfortable.
Always provide your pet with clean fresh water and be sure to show your pet where you have placed their water. If staying in a hotel or other accommodation with a housekeeping staff, notify them not to enter your room without your permission. You can also place the “do not disturb” sign on your door.
Always notify the front desk that you have a pet in your room — never try to sneak one in. If your pet might possibly damage anything in your accommodations, do not leave the pet loose in the room and unattended.
Many people will bring their pet's crate with them. Remember, you are responsible for any damage your pet does or if the pet bites someone, or if the pet gets loose and does some other type of damage. (Remember, your pet may be nervous or frightened in this strange place and even the gentlest of dogs may feel threatened by someone entering the room, causing them to react by biting the intruder.)
The dog may also become frightened and jump through a glass window trying to escape, or just run out an open door. Take precautions, even if it means someone will need to stay with the pet at all times.
You can also look into a local kennel taking your dog for a day or sometimes just a few hours while you go out. (Many will charge for a full day's stay and many may also be full.) Check with the hotel and see if they can arrange for a pet sitter to come in for a few hours while you go out. Someone from their staff may be interested in earning a few extra dollars on their off-time.
So, with a little preparation and planning, you can take your pet with you on your vacation, but always make sure they are welcome. Always make sure you think ahead and prepare for the fact that your pet will still need to be cared for by you while you are on vacation, which may result in not going out sometimes.
So, while some people will not travel anywhere without their pet, it's OK if you want a total vacation and decide to hire a pet sitter or arrange for “Fido” to have his own vacation at your local dog boarding kennel. Just make sure to plan ahead; pet sitters and kennels also fill up during the vacation season.
Cheryl Loveland is a semi-retired dog groomer. Her pet menagerie has shrunk to Bo, her bloodhound; Noel, her bichon frisée; and Bootsie, her cat. She currently resides between Keymar, Md., and Millsboro and Selbyville, and is currently not doing rescue work, but hopes to resume that when she returns to a more permanent residence. She is a member of Colonial Bloodhound Club and membership chairperson for Misspillion Kennel Club in Milford. She also still helps out at a local boarding kennel in the Bethany Beach area. She has been working with all varieties of pets since she was a child growing up in Montgomery County, Md. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.