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How to travel with your dog

Updated on September 17, 2007

To go on a road trip or a holiday without their pet is unimaginable for some people. And I completely agree, taking your dog with you adds a whole other level of fun. However car traveling can be a stressful experience for any pet, but with a little bit of preparation it does not have to be an ordeal but a fun excursion for all involved.

With our dog we were relatively lucky, as he got used to being driven around at very young age, be it a trip to the vet (approximately 15 minutes), a trip to the countryside (30 minutes) or a trip to the seaside (5 hours). It is still funny to watch, like he has a built-in radar - if we turn left he knows he is going to the vet (it is easy to tell by his demeanor trust me) while if we turn right when we get out of our street he knows a trip to the countryside is due and perks up immediately. To ensure both you and your dog will have a stress-free experience here is a list of things you should do before you even leave and some of the essentials you should keep with you at all occasions so that your dog has maximum comfort while traveling with you.

Even before you set off on your journey it would be best to ensure your dog will get used to the car by taking him or her for short distance drives. Do have some sort of a reward at the other end, as this will help your dog associate a car with pleasant activities and will cut on any reluctance your dog might feel when you open the car's doors.

To ensure maximum safety for your dog purchase a safety harness that can be clipped on to a seat belt or a special doggy seat. Another option is a crate or a pet carrier, especially if you are going for long distance trips, however you will have to crate - train your dog before you even start the trip.

Never under any circumstances - be it a short trip or a long trip - leave your dog alone in a hot car. Not even with a window opened up a bit, not even in the shade. It is simply not done.

If you are going out of state, make sure your dog has all the necessary vaccinations. Rabies vaccination is a must, also if you are going to place where ticks are in season you might want to consider a Lyme vaccination as well. Now that you are ready for a longer trip, here are a few essentials you should have with you. Plenty of water and a water bowl should be handy at all times. If you get stuck in traffic or you are not able to pull over for any number of reasons or simply because you do not know how your dog might react to the local water, you should have water handy as you want to make sure your dog does not get dehydrated. And I mention water bowl, as my dog simply did not want to drink from a bottle.

To have your dog comfy as possible bring his or hers favorite toys and blanket and have one around during your car trip. You should not be on the road without a first aid kit anyway, however do check your first aid kit even before you leave to make sure it is fully loaded up in case of an emergency. Another thing you should have is a spare leash and collar (you never know when you might need them and I always say better safe then sorry) and your dog should have some type of proof of identification on him (ID collar tags worked for us). And do not leave you home without veterinary records for your dog.

In case your dog has a sensitive stomach, you should bring extra dog food with you, to ensure your dog will stick with the brand he or she is used without upsetting the stomach. But do not feed your dog in the moving vehicle that can be another reason for a stomach upset.

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