A Pawsitively Purrfect Way to Travel By Plane, Train, or Automobile

A Pawsitively Purrfect Way to Travel By Plane, Train, or Automobile

Dr. Carol Osborne’s roadmap to pet friendly travel

A family vacation isn’t a family vacation unless Fido and/or Fluffy come along for the adventure. But travel can be stressful for pets and owners alike. Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM offers must-have advice for those who ‘have pet, will travel’!

Stress-free travel with your furry friend:

Important considerations when planning a road trip for you and your dog.

1.   Is your dog healthy and able to travel with you? It’s a good idea to have her checked over by your veterinarian before taking her on a road trip, just to be sure she’s fit and well. Dogs that are very young, elderly or frail, as well as those suffering from chronic disorders like heart, liver, and kidney disease, are best left at home in the care of a trusted friend or family member.

2.   Is she well trained? Basic obedience is essential. Your dog should be well-behaved, able to walk calmly on a loose leash, and come promptly when called. She should also be able to wait at doors for your permission to enter and exit, so she doesn’t run other people down. Be mindful of excessive barking or aggressive behavior.Be courteous and tip well. The goal is to make sure that you and your pet are welcome back anytime.

3.   Will you be staying at accommodations either en route or at your destination? If so, check ahead of time to make sure they accept animals. A growing number of hotels, motels, parks, campgrounds, and resorts have opened their doors to animals, and many offer canine-friendly perks that run the gamut from designer pet pillows and “gourmutt” menus to canine yoga and other activities for dogs. Wherever you’re going, familiarize yourself with the rules and protocols surrounding canine guests. 

Sites like petswelcome.com and bringfido.com are great resources for locating pet friendly hotels, campgrounds, B&B’s, and even pet sitters all across the United States. Not all airlines allow pets and those with different restrictions, so make sure you ask before booking a flight.

4.   Do you have everything you’ll need for your dog’s health and safety? Make a checklist and include the following when you pack:

  • ID tags- two sets; one with your home address and one with the address of your destination
  • Collar, harness, and leash
  • Veterinary records
  • Necessary medications and/or supplements
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Supply of your dog’s regular food and water
  • A health certificate from your vet if you’re travelling out of state.

Dr. Carol’s TIP: Many accommodations require up-to-date vaccines. Find out beforehand if they will accept titer testing in lieu of annual boosters.

5.   Things to consider when planning a flight:

  • Cargo or cabin? Consider your pet’s snout: Snub-nosed animals, like American Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Shar-Peis, and Persian cats (aka Brachycephalic animals) should never fly in the cargo hold, as they are particularly sensitive to respiratory difficulties in flight.
  • Choosing the best pet carrier
  • Carrier liners, toys, water
  • Temperature
  • Pee control

6.   Make car travel comfortable.  Today’s canine travel gear is designed to optimize your dog’s safety and comfort while riding in the car. Take your time choosing travel accessories, including a good quality doggy seatbelt and/or a crate or carrier (depending on the size of your dog). Dogs should not be loose inside the car. Not only can this cause driver distraction, but it could result in the dog being seriously injured or even killed in the event of an accident.

Dr. Carol’s TIP: Other canine travel accessories include spill-free water bowls that attach to your car’s interior.

Finally, grab a few of your dog’s favorite toys and a favorite blanket or two. Having something familiar in the back seat with her will help your dog relax and enjoy the trip more.

7.  Minimize stress. Get your dog accustomed to his seatbelt or carrier before heading out on your trip, so he’ll be as calm and comfortable as possible. This is invaluable and helps reduce stress for both your dog and you, whether you’re traveling to the next town or across the country. Take a few short drives around the neighborhood in the days or weeks leading up to the trip so your dog gets used to his crate or seatbelt.

Dr. Carol’s TIP: Another way to help reduce stress is to allow extra time for stops every few hours, so your dog can take a potty break and stretch his legs (be sure to clean up after him!).

8.  If your dog is still anxious or overexcited in the car, consider these holistic remedies:

  • A combination of Chamomile and Blue Cypress essential oils (highest quality oils only!) works like a charm for many anxious dogs. Apply a few drops to your dog’s coat two or three times a day as needed.
  • Rescue Remedy or Bach’s Five Flower Formula are safe and effective flower essences. A few drops can be added to your dog’s food or water. You can also administer the drops directly into his mouth, or rub them into the hairless inner part of his ears.
  • Offer your dog a piece of ginger snap – it makes a tasty treat and helps relieve nausea.

Dr. Carol’s TIP: Avoid tranquilizers, if possible. They lower blood pressure, which can be risky, especially for older dogs and those with heart problems.

9.  What about food and treatsWhen travelling with your dog, try to stick to his normal diet as much as possible. Bring enough of his food from home to last for the duration of your trip, unless you’ll have access to a store that sells his regular diet at your destination. Sudden changes in food can lead to digestive upsets, which are the last thing you want when on the road. If indigestion occurs, a general rule of thumb is to withhold food and water for about four to six hours. You can also try peppermint tea. It tastes great and is soothing to the stomach.

Whether you’re traveling or not, keep fatty foods to less than 10% of your dog’s diet. Treats should be healthy, and comprise less than 5% of his diet. Exercise your dog before meals and let him rest one to two hours after eating to avoid bloat, especially important if you own a large, deep-chested dog like a Great Dane or Doberman.

10.  Parked cars are heat trapsYou’ve heard it before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Never leave your dog alone in the car during hot weather, even for a few minutes. Temperatures inside a parked car spike very rapidly during the summer, subjecting dogs to heat stroke. It’s also wise not to leave him in the car while it’s running, not only because someone could steal the vehicle with your dog in it, but also because carbon monoxide fumes are a risk.

Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM, is a practicing integrative veterinarian and a nationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of functional medicine. She is the founder and director of the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center and Pet Clinic and an Emmy-nominated television journalist. Her first two books, Naturally Healthy Dogs and Naturally Healthy Cats, hit the international best seller lists. She is a regular contributor to several television shows and networks including FOX & Friends, The Today Show, Discovery’s Animal Planet, and Good Day LA.

Dr. Carol is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine and developed and patented PAAWS: Pet Anti-Aging Wellness System for dogs and cats. Today she has turned her passion for functional pet medicine, real food, nutrition, and wellness into activism. Dr. Osborne is leading a pet health revolution that challenges us to reimagine our pet’s biology and the process of aging to create and sustain your pet’s health for life. Learn more at http://www.chagrinfallspetclinic.com.

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