More people are on the go with their dogs than ever before. That may mean bringing your pup to a café across town or on a camping trip across the country. Whenever you plan to take your dog along, it’s important to take safety precautions so he or she stays happy and healthy. Here are 9 travel safety tips to consider…
1. Check the Chip. Don’t risk losing your dog while you’re away from home. Microchip and make sure the chip is registered, so if your dog is found by a shelter or vet’s office, they’ll be able to contact you. You may also want to add a wearable tracker like Whistle GO, which provides health info and keeps track of where your dog roams.
2. Carry ID. Always make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag, and especially if you’re traveling. A dog in an unfamiliar place could be more likely to get spooked and run away, or simply venture too far from your home base. Make sure your contact information is up to date. Plus, carry a photo of you and your dog together, in case you need proof of ownership to get your dog back.
3. Show Some Restraint. Dogs in vehicles should always be in a crate or buckled into a safety harness. Otherwise, if you have to swerve or stop sharply, they can be thrown around the vehicle, hurting themselves or you. Also, keeping dogs restrained means they can’t inadvertently obstruct the driver’s vision, get in the way of safe driving or get out an open window.
4. Keep the Windows Up. Yes, dogs love to hang out an open car window and sniff the air, but it’s just not worth the risk. They can lean too far and fall out, leap out to chase something they see, be knocked out by an unexpected turn, be sideswiped by a car, or get dust, debris or insects in their eyes or nose from the wind. Protect your dog by keeping them safely harnessed, keeping windows up, and making sure you engage the child-proof window/door locks if the dog might be able to open either by stepping on the controls.
5. Take Breaks. Just like people, dogs need opportunities to get out and stretch their legs during road trips. Not to mention potty breaks! Make sure your dog’s leash is attached securely to her collar BEFORE you open the car door, in case she makes a run for it. Also, since dogs need more water than people do, be sure to use every break as an opportunity to offer water and keep your pup well hydrated.
6. Avoid Food Surprises. Also just like people, dogs tend to suffer from too much variety in food on the road. Try to stick with your dog’s regular feeding schedule and food. That will help avoid stomach upsets. Also, if your dog is prone to carsickness, plan time in your journey for food to settle before getting on the road.
7. Beware of Pests. Different areas of the country may have different pests and related diseases that can affect your dog. Share your travel plans with your veterinarian before you leave, so he or she can offer the most appropriate preventive measures for you to consider. Also, remember to carry your dog’s health and vaccination records with you on any out-of-town trip.
8. Take Time for Calm. Many dogs feel anxious when they first experience new places, smells, sounds and people. To help your dog enjoy travel rather than fear it, do practice sessions in the car before you leave. Get him used to the car, his crate, and anything else you can simulate about what he’ll encounter on the way. Provide familiar items like a favorite blanket or toy to help decrease travel anxiety.
9. Bring Your Gear. Along with bringing medical and vaccination records for your pet, keep your veterinarian’s contact information close at hand. Also, remember to bring food, water, bowls, leash, waste bags, grooming supplies, toys, and anything you need for temperature management – like hot weather booties or a sweater if it may be cool.
Here are some additional resources to help:
- Red Cross: Pet Travel Safety
- Banfield: Traveling with Your Pet
- VCA: Dog Behavior and Training – Air and Car Travel
- Mars Petcare: Traveling with Pets: 10 Important Things to Consider
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