The weather has turned crisp and cold; smells of gingerbread and peppermint fill the air. You know what this all means… the holidays are upon us! This time of year signifies plenty of quality time spent with family and friends—of the human and four-legged variety.
But some of the family and friends you want to spend time with live far away, so you’ll find yourself traveling long distances over the holiday season (along with millions of other Americans). Be sure you don’t leave Fido behind! Read our holiday traveling do’s and don’ts to make your trip as safe, fun, and memorable as possible.
• Do give your dog proper identification. Make sure your dog is properly microchipped in the event that he runs away or is lost. Up-to-date ID and license tags on his collar also work well in lieu of the microchip. As an extra precaution, attach an extra tag to your dog’s collar with the address and contact information of the place you will be staying during your trip.
• Do bring along a copy of their health records.Although it is unlikely, health problems can come up during trips for both humans and pets. Have a copy of your pup’s health records handy in case he has to visit the vet during the trip.
• Do remember your dog’s basic items. Emergency items are a given, but certain items might be easier to forget. Make a list of the basic items your dog needs, which might include food, his favorite toy or blanket, treats, and a spare leash.
• Do make sure your pup is accustomed to his travel crate. You can’t expect a dog to travel well in a crate if he’s not used to it. Whether you’re flying, driving, or taking the train, a dog that is already accustomed to his crate will take away a lot of the stress. It can be his own little slice of comfort; a home away from home. Crates should be large enough for your dog to stand and turn around without any hassle. Add some extra blankets and bedding to keep him warm and comfy.
• Don’t leave your pets unattended. You or someone you trust should be around your dog at all times. Dogs are prone to theft, injury, and even death when left alone. You wouldn’t leave one of your kids alone; don’t leave your dog alone.
• Don’t force a nervous dog to travel immediately. That cross-country road trip shouldn’t be the first time your dog has been in the car. To ease Fido into travel, take him for a short five-minute trip around the neighborhood. Gradually increase the time and distance. Make sure you offer plenty of praise and treats. With enough time and patience, getting in the car should be second nature to your pup.
• Do make frequent stops. If you’re traveling by car, stop frequently to give your dog a chance to burn off some energy and take a potty break. This is a great chance for you to stretch your legs as well.
• Do prepare for delays. Car trouble and bad weather are possibilities during the holiday season. Keep extra pet food and water handy in the event of any such delays.
• Do check airline regulations. If you plan to fly, be aware that each airline has its own rules and fees for canine air travel. Often, larger dogs must be transported as cargo, while smaller dogs can ride with you. Dogs that are sick, in heat, or pregnant should not travel by plane. Plan well in advance.
• Do consider alternatives to sedation. Many dog owners use sedatives or tranquilizers to calm their dogs for long plane rides. Sedatives, along with the high altitudes, make it difficult to monitor your pup’s breathing. Many owners mistakenly over-sedate their dogs. However, certain alternatives give your pup perfectly peaceful sleep until you reach your destination. Consult your vet for natural sedatives and other tranquilizer alternatives well in advance of your trip.
• Do make appropriate plans for lodging. Do your research. Find a hotel or motel that allows dogs and has a nearby park or grassy area for walks. You might consider asking for a room on the first floor to make walking your dog easier.
• Do respect other travelers. Be considerate of others in the hotel. A dog barking in the middle of the night is no fun for anyone and only puts even more undue stress on your dog. Plan ahead.
• Don’t forget to have fun. It’s the holidays: a time to let loose and enjoy yourself. Avoid stressing too much about the little things, and you and your dog will be better for it.
Happy holiday traveling to you and your pup!
Photo Credit: Mirror Shot
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