March 19, 2018
by LG Nixon
Spring is in the air! Well, sort of. That dusting of snow we had this morning might say otherwise, but the travel maps residing on my husbands desk prove spring isn’t far away. Here are a few tips which you might find useful for vacation traveling with your four-legged family members.
COLLAR with ID: Fido, and yes, Meow-man, needs to wear a collar with ID tags at all times, especially when away from home. In the event you are separated from your companion, these simple items will help reunite you with your pet. ID tags must contain your current contact information. If your pet has a medical or special needs condition, for example being hearing impaired, blind, epileptic, diabetic, or other, please include a tag with this information and include the required medication. If you don’t like the tinkling sound the tags can make, tag holders are available. Check your local Chow Hound, or your favorite pet supply for a variety of reasonably priced tag options. For those with an artsy bent, a variety of custom medic alert tags are available at dogtagart.com and other suppliers, or consider purchasing a lifetime membership to a microchip provider such as 24Petwatch.com. If the collar becomes detached, the microchip will provide the same information for a safe return.
LEASH: Leashes are required equipment. When camping or staying at pet-friendly motels and hotels, your pet will be required to be on a leash and under control at all times. As you make your reservations, ask for their requirements regarding your four-legged member. I have also found a coupler is handy when traveling with two dogs. It eliminates the need and the tangle of a second leash, and sometimes the pets walk better together than separately.
HARNESS & RESTRAINT SYSTEM: A harness is my preferred method of maintaining control, and it can serve as part of a seatbelt restraint system when traveling in a vehicle. While there are various styles available, I prefer a padded comfort harness to prevent chaffing around the arms and chest of my companion. These are great for winter excursions, but may be too warm for an extended time in warmer weather.
When camping or walking my companions, they wear a harness along with their collar and ID tags. During unexpected encounters with an animal or a child, you have something solid to grab hold of instead of jerking the collar should the need arise.
During transport, the harness can be combined with a tether to keep your pet secure during an abrupt stop or a sudden reactionary movement thus preventing your buddy from being catapulted through the vehicle cabin. The force of the reaction is distributed against the pet’s body as opposed to the pet being restrained by the collar where even a minor collision could cause injury to the pet’s neck. It will also eliminate the possibility of your pet falling out an open window should you happen to have it down more than a few inches. Fido should never be allowed to fully hang out an open window.
Most pet supply stores offer a limited selection of harness/tether systems. You can also combine your harness of choice with a seatbelt tether. Some tethers clip directly to the seatbelt receptacle like the HDP Car Dog Harness and Safety Seat Belt. Others are designed similar to a wrist strap with a carabiner clip. This design loops the carabiner clip around the shoulder strap, through the wrist loop to attach to the harness. While allowing freedom of movement, a sudden stop will lock the shoulder strap and prevent Fido becoming airborne. Check on-line for options at DrsFosterSmith.com or at Chewy.com. You can also use your seatbelt harness/tether while boating to keep your companion from falling overboard. (He should also wear a life jacket. Yes – dogs can swim but can also tire easily. Please use a life jacket.)
A restraint also keeps your pet safe from bolting from the vehicle when a door is opened. CASE IN POINT: My parents once found an exhausted and shaking dog in their yard. They immediately brought it into their home and notified their local shelters, veterinary hospital and State Police. A week later, the young dog’s pet parents called to inquire about the animal. They had been traveling east on I94 when they were involved in a multiple car accident. The traumatized dog bolted from the vehicle, ran north across four lanes of heavy traffic and into the woods to my parents home nearly a mile away. This near-tragedy could have been avoided by a seatbelt restraint.
VACCINATION & BREED ID PAPERS: Please keep a copy of your pet’s current vaccination records with you, and medical records if there is a pre-existing condition. Place these in his travel bag (yes-my pet’s all have their own little suitcase) along with his breed ID papers, such as AKC or veterinary records. Some municipalities have breed restrictions and may not allow Fido to enter. Check the local and state government on-line sites at your destination for any breed restrictions. You can also check with your Veterinary for advise or go to AKC.org to read recent articles concerning restrictions. Canada does have breed restrictions. Please familiarize yourself carefully with their restrictions before entering. Some provincial municipalities have the authority to seize your pet.
FIRST AID KIT: Always carry a first aid kit for your pets. While this may seem excessive, it can be a time saver when determining when your pet requires urgent care. While there are doggy first aid kits available, you can easily put one together for your pet. A kit should include: a soft, flexible thermometer and a clear gel for insertion, (check with your veterinary for your pet’s normal temperature range and instructions for use), a stypic pen or powder to stop toenail bleeding, saline eye wash to flush wounds, gauze, bandages, self-adhering wound wrap tape, flea/tick shampoo, towels, tweezers for removing ticks, pet appropriate cleansing wipes, medication if needed, and anything else your pet may require. Keep this travel bag handy and prepped in readiness so you can grab-and-go when your ready for another grand adventure.
And of course, the diligent pet parent will include food, snacks, toys, bed/crate, blankets, poop scoop or poop bags, seat protector, and a life jacket for water sports.
For more information on what to take on your pet’s vacation, please visit BarkPost.com for a fun video of pets on vacation. They also have listing of pet friendly beaches for you and your four-legged companion to enjoy!
Whether you plan to travel for the upcoming Easter holiday or will be lounging at home, please remember: NO CHOCOLATE is allowed for Fido and Meow-man. You can refer to the 2017 holiday posts for more food restrictions.
Now, go have that great adventure!