Co-Authored by Kendra Thorton Travel advocate, TV personality, PR business woman, and Karen Rosenfeld Dog Behaviorist, Canine Holistic Wellness - the Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
When our family goes on vacation, I always make sure we make plans to ensure that our dog is safe and comfortable. This is a challenge for many people, as pets can make traveling more complicated. I’m going to be hosting family members who will be visiting me in Chicago next month. Since they’ll be bringing their own dog, I’m planning to offer them some suggestions on how to make the trip easier for everyone. The following are some of the ways that I make sure everyone, including our dog, feels at home while we’re on the road.
Most dogs have a toy or other object that helps them feel relaxed. I’ve found that bringing a familiar item along really helps our dog stay calm while we’re traveling. In our case, it’s a blanket, but anything familiar will do the job. Another trick that works with our dog is to massage some aromatherapy oil into her coat to help her to relax. If you try this, just make sure you choose an oil blend that’s safe and non-toxic to pets.
There are a few steps that should be taken prior to taking your pet on a trip. I always bring our dog to the vet for a complete check-up and to catch up on any vaccines she might need. Another thing I did was having her micro chipped. This is a painless procedure that makes pets easy to track if they ever get lost. Finally, if you’re traveling out of the area make sure you check laws and regulations about transporting animals. For example, if you travel abroad there may be quarantine laws in place.
When I book hotel rooms, I always check into their policies regarding pets. Aside from seeking a hotel that allows pets, I search for one where our dog will be as comfortable as possible. There are quite a few pet friendly hotels that are happy to recommend places where you can walk your dog. Some go as far as to prepare continental breakfasts for dogs, which any dog will surely appreciate! Check on the hotel’s website to find out their policies and attitudes towards pets. If necessary, give them a call and ask any questions you might have.
Planes are usually the fastest and most direct way to cover long distances. They are not, however, the ideal way to travel with pets. Animals do not enjoy flying and most airlines are not too crazy about the idea either. The one time I tried flying with my dog she ended up stuck in the cargo hold. I would never do that again unless there were absolutely no other options.
When our family goes on vacation, I want everyone to have a good time. This includes our family dog. I find that it really helps to keep the same routine as we follow at home as much as I can. For example, I feed and walk the dog at the times that she’s grown accustomed to. This helps make it feel like home to her, even if we’re hundreds of miles away ~ Kendra
- Bags (poop bags)
- Bed and/or blanket
- Bowls for food and water
- Collar, considering bringing an extra
- Leash, considering bringing an extra
- Harness if using one
- Crate / Kennel if using one
- Grooming supplies
- Medicines/supplements if applicable
- Food / treats, especially if your dog has a sensitive digestive system that is adversely effected by sudden changes in diet
- Toy if your dog enjoys having one or two
- Water bottle
- Water for traveling in the car
- Your dog’s papers (medical, vaccination records, ownership) - particularly important if you are crossing an international border
- First Aid Kit
First Aid Kit
For instructions on how to make your own amazing all-natural first aid kit Go Here >>
Emergency Health Care - Know Where to Go
Consider looking up and writing down the contact information and hours of operation of some veterinarian offices or alternate and complementary medicine health care providers along your travel route and near where you will be staying. This can save valuable time in an emergency situation.
The Psychology of Travel Anxiety
When it comes to communication dogs are very insightful - if you expect your dog to get anxious you are actually directing your dog to be anxious. Vehicle anxiety is a psychological state that results in one or more of the following physical symptoms - barking, panting, whining, inability to ‘settle down’, wanting to hide or escape etc. Solving the issue is best accomplished by addressing and resolving the all elements that contribute to the anxious state, including:
- The psychological state (human and canine)
- The physical state (human and canine)
- Food, diet, nutrition (canine)
In addition to providing appropriate psychological and physical support you can also purchase a holistic herbal or homeopathic tincture / tonic to help reduce your dog’s stress.
There are many good quality herbal tinctures, tonics, homeopathic remedies that can be purchased on-line or from a good-quality pet store or natural health store. Be careful to check the ingredients list. Many products including those made for pets contain alcohol, toxic fillers, and slipping agents, artificial sweeteners, and other inappropriate ingredients. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and dosage carefully.
If your dog has allergies or any health medical conditions please makes sure you check all herbals and homeopathic remedies for interactions and cautions related to your dog’s condition and medications prior to use.
Some dogs experience motion sickness - another condition that can be cured when addressed properly and with patience. You can read more on treating motion sickness here. Herbs such as ginger, anise or peppermint are good choices for treating nausea. And do not feed your dog for at least an hour before vehicle travel, but do not restrict water intake. An empty stomach (no food, water is fine) helps to avoid the onset of nausea.
Food, Nutrition, Diet and Travel Anxiety
Diet matters. Dogs, just like people have more serotonin in their gut than in their brain. A dog ‘food’ (i.e. processed commercial dry or wet food) that contains grains, chemical based preservatives, artificial food colouring, artificial flavours, poor sourced protein, and other toxins definitely contributes to increased levels of anxiety. If your dog is anxious - proper attention to creating a truly supportive diet is important to supporting an over-all cure.
When this type of behaviour is addressed properly vehicle anxiety and motion sickness can be resolved.
- If your dog does have ID tags:
- Check to make sure the ring that holds the tag on the collar is secure
- Make sure all information on the tag is current
- If your dog does not have an ID Tag:
- Make sure you get one - even if your dog is micro chipped -the person that finds your dog may not know about microchips or have access to a facility that scans for chips
- Include the following on the tag
- Dog’s name (essential)
- Your phone number (essential)
- Your name (optional)
- Your address (optional)
- Make sure you always have available a recent photo of your dog
Car Travel Safety
For important tips of car travel safety with your dog - guidance on what's best, the front seat or back seat; options for making sure your dog is not injured during a sudden emergency stop; the right way to use a crate in the car if you need to do so and other life saving do's and don'ts Go Here >>
...and last but not least, have a good trip! ~ Karen
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