A boxer with its face out of a windowHere comes summer and road trips with your dog. Taking Fido on vacation can be fun for the family and your dog, if you plan with care, and always keep your dog’s best interests in mind.

Here’s a collection of vital tips to ensure your dog is safe and enjoys the trip as much as you do.

Getting Started

Begin preparing for your dog one month ahead of your trip. Here are the top pre-trip “to-do’s.”

  1. Visit your vet and microchip your dog. That’s the only certain way to ensure your dog can be identified if lost. Collars and tags can fall off. Microchips are permanent. For more information, call The Bluffs Pet Clinic.
  2. While at the vet, make sure all vaccines are current and that your dog’s rabies tag is, too. Your vet can provide certificates for all vaccines in case you need to board your pet. Make sure you have your vet’s phone number on your phone.
  3. If your dog doesn’t travel well, tell your vet. The veterinarians at The Bluffs Pet Clinic can prescribe medications or herbs to reduce their anxiety.  This is also a good time to refill any medications that you may run out of while you are gone.
  4. Plan how to restrain your dog in the car. Whether a kennel, dog seat belt, pet car seat or a barrier between the front and back seat, remember that a sharp turn or sudden brake can throw a loose dog into the car’s side or back of the front seat and harm your pet. If you choose a kennel, make sure it is well ventilated on both sides. Then fit the pet car seat or seat belt well before the trip. Just as it’s important for you to be comfortable in the car, it’s equally important for your pet.
  5. Take a few “practice rounds” with your pet in the kennel, car seat or seat belt. Start by placing your dog in the restraint in the car—without driving. Let him/her adjust to the restraint. Next, take your dog for small drives in the restraint. That way, when it’s travel time, they know exactly what to expect and you’ve reduced their anxiety. Back seats only. Never put your pet in the front seat. If an air bag deploys, it can severely injure your pet.
  6. Also, never travel with your dog in an open truck bed. This is extremely dangerous.
  7. If staying in a pet-friendly hotel, make sure you know if there are weight restrictions before making the reservation. Prevent an unfortunate surprise this way.
  8. Now is also the time to look up a veterinary clinic in the area you will be staying in case of an emergency.

On Trip Day

  1. Make sure you place your dog’s bed or favorite blanket with him/her in the car to help reduce anxiety.
  2. Bring along Fido’s favorite toys. Helps him/her feel at home—wherever you are.
  3. Bring along a photo of your dog that can be printed and duplicated. In the tragic event your dog is lost, you can post pictures to increase the likelihood he/she will be found.
  4. If your pet is on any medications or supplements, then make sure to bring enough to last until you return home.
  5. Pack enough of their dog food to last the entire trip. Vacations are not the time to introduce your dog to a new food. You don’t want your dog to have an upset tummy, (nor do you want to travel with one who does).
  6. Don’t forget their food and water dishes. If you’re short on space, invest in collapsible dishes.
  7. Start out with at least one gallon of water from your home. Dogs don’t always adjust well to new water. Gradually mix in your water with the new sources to reduce the chance of an upset stomach.
  8. Don’t forget the pooper scooper or dog waste bags!

On the Road

  1. Make frequent rest stops for your dog. Always use a leash to walk him/her, and give plenty of time to eliminate and exercise. Then give them more water. It’s very important to keep your dog hydrated during the drive. This is also a good time to give your dog extra love and attention—they’ll love you for it.
  2. Never leave your pet alone in the car. With windows closed at 72°, your car will reach 116° in an hour. At 85°, your car will reach 102° in 10 minutes. With windows slightly open, in 30 minutes it’s 120°. Dogs can suffer irreversible organ damage and/or death. If you see a dog in a hot car with windows rolled up call 911. That pet is in critical danger.

In a Hotel

  1. Please don’t leave your dog alone in a strange place—particularly a hotel. You will stress out your pooch and he/she will probably bark incessantly, leaving you to find a new hotel when you return. No fun for Fido, and no fun for you.
  2. If you have plans and your pup can’t join you, find a local dog daycare for them to spend the day. That way you both get to have fun!

Now you—and your pooch—are ready for a great vacation! As always, if you have any concerns or questions, the staff at The Bluffs is eager to help you. Happy and safe travels for you and your dog!