It’s almost summertime and that means a number of fun things – sunshine, warmth and vacation plans! If you’re traveling with your pup this summer, here are some quick tips for making the most of your travel plans.
Make sure your dog is wearing an ID tag with current phone numbers clearly legible on it. This may sound ridiculously simple, but it happens far too often – a lost dog has tags on their collar but none of the phone numbers are current, making the tags completely useless. Even better, have your dog microchipped as well and make sure your contact info is up-to-date with that company, too! You may also consider attaching a second tag that includes contact information for where you’ll be staying.
2. Pack plenty of your dog’s normal dog food.
Vacation is not the time to be changing up your dog’s diet. Travel can be stressful enough on your pet, adding a complete diet change on top of that can lead to a messy week at the beach. Try to stick to your pet’s typical eating schedule as well to help maintain some level of structure in the new environment.
3. Steer clear of table scraps!
I’m sure that bar-b-que is delicious and your dog would love to partake. But dogs’ stomachs are more sensitive than ours and introducing something like rich, fatty BBQ is a recipe for disaster. Seriously. Look up hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and pancreatitis. Both can be brought on by the tiniest of table scraps and they’re not pretty or inexpensive to treat at the vet. If you must include your pup in the food festivities, offer a raw veggie, like carrots.
4. Brush up on your pup’s obedience and manners.
Your dog may be the cutest thing on the face of the planet but no one likes to be greeted by a jumping, barking, out-of-control lunatic. So work with your dog around new distractions and people to help him understand that good manners apply everywhere, not just at home. And use your common sense – a new environment is not the time to test your pup’s off-leash recall. Keep your dog leashed and secure if you have any doubts about his responsiveness under all circumstances.
5. Be careful with outdoor excursions.
Before you take your Husky with you on that 12 mile hike through the mountains, take a few things into consideration – is your pup used to that type or level of exercise? Dogs don’t sweat and cool down the way we do which means heat can be a real problem for many housepets, especially brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like Pugs and English Bulldogs. They also don’t always have the ability to recognize how tired they are – many dogs will play and run until they collapse. Heat Stroke can set in quickly and is an absolute, life-threatening emergency. Know the signs of heat stroke & get to a vet immediately if you notice any of them.
6. NEVER ever leave your dog in a closed car during summer months.
Temperatures climb at astonishing rates inside a closed vehicle and can cause heat stroke and death in a short amount of time. Many pet owners think it’s okay to leave the A/C on and/or the windows down, but if your car runs out of gas or the A/C stops working, your dog can die in a matter of minutes. If your dog doesn’t need to come along, and you can’t bring him inside with you, please consider leaving him at home where it’s safe and cool.
7. Check to make sure pets are allowed at your destination before heading out.
There are lots of dog-friendly hotels out there, but finding them before you start your trip can save you a huge headache down the road. Many travel websites like Travelocity, Trip Advisor & Airbnb give you the option to search specifically for pet-friendly accommodations. Even so, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and verify the hotel’s policy to be sure the information you have is correct and up-to-date.
Havok at Tractor Supply, 10 weeks old
Keep these 7 tips in the back of your mind for your dog-friendly vacation and your trip will be much more memorable for all the right reasons. And if your dog doesn’t travel well, if he gets very anxious around new people or environments, or if your trip is going to involve mostly activities that he can’t participate in, consider leaving him at home. Finding a trusted friend or family member to stay with your pup while you’re gone will allow you both to worry less and enjoy your summer a little more.
Dana Long is the Head Trainer at Valor K9 Academy – Chattanooga. She spent thirteen years working at an emergency veterinary clinic where she specialized in internal medicine. Dana works with dogs of all ages and breeds and specializes in basic puppy to advanced obedience training. She lives in Chattanooga, TN, with her husband Nick and three dogs (Bear, Isadora and Charlie).