5 Ways to Get Your Pet Ready for the Road
Helpful hints for traveling by car with your pet.
Hitting the road for a family vacation this summer? Bring your dog! Taking your pup on a road trip can be enjoyable for everyone -- especially your dog -- as long as you plan ahead. Amy Burkert is traveling the country with her husband and their two dogs. The couple founded GoPetFriendly.com, a site dedicated to making pet-friendly travel easier. Here, she shares some helpful tips to ensure you and your dog are road-trip ready.
1. Warm Up
Practice the behaviors your dog will need to have fun on vacation. Eat with him on the patio of a local dog-friendly restaurant so that he's prepared for eating on the road. Bring lots of treats and reinforce good behavior. And if you purchase anything new for the trip -- a crate, travel bed, bowls, etc. -- give your dog time to explore the new items before departing.
2. Take Care
Burkert recommends getting a health exam before you hit the road. "Make a visit to your vet for a check-up, to confirm all vaccinations are up-to-date, and to discuss any possible concerns about flea, tick, or heartworm risks where you will be traveling," she advises. "It is also a great idea to discuss possible remedies for car sickness, diarrhea, and restlessness -- just in case." And don't forget to pack your pet's medications, vitamins, or supplements.
3. Be Safe
"Most of us can't imagine driving anywhere without our seat belt, and our pets should have the same level of safety. Crates, carriers, or car harnesses will protect them from injury in case of an accident, and will allow you to open the doors without worrying they might slip out," says Burkert. She also suggests having your pet microchipped or, if he's already chipped, updating the contact information.
"It would be a nightmare, but pets do become separated from their people while traveling. Shelters, animal hospitals, veterinary clinics, and humane societies have scanners that read the chips so they can notify you of your pet's recovery." Bring a current photo of your pet in case you get separated, and make sure your cell phone number is on his ID tag.
4. Get the Gear
Bring plenty of food and treats, bowls, your dog's leash and collar, and a bed or crate. Pack a copy of your pet's vet records, including his rabies certificate. Burkert suggests that owners consider bringing other gear like drinking water. "If your pet's stomach is easily upset, it pays to take drinking water from home with you." Stash these additional items in a tote to round out your pet's gear: paper towels, an old towel, toys, plastic bags to pick up after him along the way, a first aid kit, pet insect repellent, and sunscreen.
5. Have Fun!
Enjoy the journey, and be sure to take a lot of pictures. Burkert says, "Most pets love being with you more than anything else. Having new places to explore and smells to sniff is icing on the cake."
For more great pet travel tips, check out GoPetFriendly.com.
Have you ever taken a road trip with your pets? How did you prepare? Tell us below!
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