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Hitting The Road With Your Canine Companion

How to enjoy a safe road trip adventure with your pooch

Hitting The Road With Your Canine Companion

For many, the arrival of warmer weather means its time for a road trip. Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a day on the lake, there’s nothing like sharing your travel adventure with your pet pal.  In this series of articles, we explore a few measures you can take to keep you and your pet happy and safe as you hit the road.

One of the simplest things you can do to ensure your pet’s safety also happens to be one of the most frequently overlooked: Always, make sure that your pet is wearing a collar with some form of identification just in case he or she slips away and finds herself lost.  Make sure that your dog’s collar is secure and includes a tag with your contact information.  Even better, consider having your dog micro-chipped.  One of the first things that local authorities or vets do when encountering a lost animal is to scan for a microchip. 

There’s no surer sign of great weather than a happy dog hanging his head out the window and drinking up the rushing air.  Unfortunately, this favorite doggy pastime usually means your pet is riding unsecured.  For longer road trips it's best to keep your dog in a car harness seatbelt.  This allows your pup both mobility and the freedom to lay down and stretch out, but also keeps him secured in case of a brake check or accident.

While it’s generally not advisable to let your dog travel by crate in the car, it’s a great idea to bring the crate along on your travels as this “den” can provide a source of security and comfort for your pet at your home away from home.  If Fido’s staying behind in the hotel for the day, this will allow him the comforts of home and will keep him from getting into trouble. While many hotels are happy to host your pet they generally frown upon dogs redecorating hotel rooms.

I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying a doggy essentials bag with my pooch and I when we hit the road.  It’s got everything we need for whatever comes our way – expected or not.  I carry my vet’s contact information; her basic health records (history, vaccines and any allergies).  We also carry a simple pet first-aid kit that we purchased at the local pet store.  I make sure to pack along any medications she’s on; plenty of food and water,  in case we get off the beaten path and decide to extend our adventure another day. We also throw a couple extra blankets in the trunk for impromptu picnics and cuddle time in her crate; an extra leash just in case, and plenty of poop bags too.

Dogs generally travel best on an empty stomach. Even if your pooch is used to traveling around town in the car, a longer road trip could induce car-sickness.  Holding off on the food is fine, but make sure your canine companion stays well-hydrated.  This may mean a few extra pit stops, but its worth the time to ensure your pet stays well.  Try to hydrate at the beginning of your rest stop – gulping down water just before returning to the car can set the stage for car sickness.

Dogs are creatures of habit, so travel can sometimes be stress-inducing.  If at all possible, try to keep your dog as close to her normal routine as possible. Whether this means a long morning walk or an exercise outing in the afternoon, your pooch will be far less likely to be anxious or uncomfortable.  With a little extra preparation, you and your pup can safely hit the road together for your next adventure.

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