Have dog, will travel…or will he?
Your vacation is booked and you’re packing your bags. The big question is, are you prepared to travel with your dog? Some vacations are well-suited to include your furry friend, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind when travelling with a pet, so your trip is memorable…in a good way!
Pre-trip research: Are they welcome?
Once you decide your pet will be travelling with you, the first step is to determine what the pet health regulations are for your travel destination. Pet travel requirements may be updated often, so even if you’ve visited an area before, double-check that nothing has changed. And this isn’t just for individual provinces, states, and cities; airlines, hotels and camping sites also update their rules regularly. Also, check whether your dog will be welcome at any specific tourist destinations you plan on visiting, such as national parks or popular hiking trails. Even if you’re planning to stay with family or friends, let them know that your dog will be accompanying you so there are no surprises when you arrive.
Vet visit: Are they healthy?
- As soon as you’ve got your trip planned, schedule a visit with us. We can examine your dog to confirm that he or she is healthy enough to travel and provide the necessary documentation. We’ll also make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and parasite prevention specific to your travel destination. If travelling internationally, research the requirements of the country you’re entering and will be travelling through. Each country has specific requirements for health certificates, vaccinations, and possibly test results and treatment records to allow your dog entry.
Concern about your dog having travel-related anxiety? Since there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for pet anxiety, we may need to try several options to find the best one. Please let us know well in advance of your trip (ideally, at least a few weeks to a couple months) so we have time to work out a personalized solution for your dog.
Ready to ride: Are they safe?
Road trips can be exciting for dogs that enjoy car rides but daunting for those that get carsickness or anxiety.
Some general tips for road trip travel include:
- Use a pet restraint device or keep your dog in a crate while travelling.
- Stop frequently for exercise breaks at rest areas or parks where your dog can be leash-walked to stretch his legs and go to the bathroom. Remember to build time into your schedule for these stops and always leash your pet BEFORE you stop for an exercise break.
- Make sure your dog has effective identification in case he becomes separated from you. Microchipping is a permanent way for your dog to be identified, but it’s also a good idea to have an ID tag attached to his collar which includes your cell phone number. Be sure that the contact information associated with the microchip is up to date.
- Do not leave your dog alone in your vehicle, no matter the outside temperature. Cracking a window does not make a significant difference. The interior of a vehicle can heat up very quickly, even in relatively mild weather, and cold temperatures can make a vehicle feel like a refrigerator.
- Take time to rest. Vacations can be hectic, so schedule some “down time” for you and your dog.
Ready to fly: Are they ready?
When it comes to travelling by plane, here are a few tips:
- Check with your airline on their requirements for pet travel. If you have any questions, contact the airline as soon as possible.
- Purchase the airline-recommended carrier/kennel well in advance of your flight so your dog has time to get used to the size and smell. Make it part of your home with comfy blankets and toys; it should be a place where your dog feels safe. We can provide guidance on training your dog to feel comfortable in his carrier.
Travelling in cargo can be stressful, so you may want to consider a different option if possible. Dogs with certain chronic health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, as well as short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Persians, may have a higher risk of respiratory failure during plane travel and should not be flown in cargo (or, in some cases, not fly on an airplane at all).
Packing the bag: Are you ready?
Here is a packing checklist for your dog:
- Bring enough food and water for the entire trip. Changes in diet often lead to gastrointestinal upset. If feasible, take an ample supply of water for your dog to avoid any problems with local water supplies.
- Carry the proper paperworkfor your dog and ensure you know the regulations for travelling across provincial/state/national borders. Keep a copy of your dog’s health certificate (i.e., verification that your dog will not carry infectious diseases/parasites to other regions) and bring a copy of your dog’s medical records in case of an emergency.
- Be sure to bring your dog’s routine medication(s),including flea, tick, and heartworm preventives that will be needed during your time away from home.
- Any medication needed for your dog’s carsickness, anxiety, or stress-induced diarrhea.
- Collapsible water dish
- First aid kit. Ask us what we recommend in your dog’s kit.
- List of veterinary clinics (and their contact information) near your travel destination that can look after your dog in case of emergency.
Finally, consider whether taking your dog with you is the best idea. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing in museums or galleries, your dog is going to spend a lot of time alone in your hotel room. If you decide to leave your dog behind, rest assured, he can enjoy his own “vacation” at a boarding kennel or staying with a pet sitter.