Some dogs love cars. Others…well, not so much. No matter if your dog loves car travel or not so much, you want to keep your dog safe. Why does bringing your best buddy along for a road trip take a little extra precaution? Cars are designed to keep people safe, however, they’re not quite as safe for dogs. Furthermore, driving hundreds of miles away from home comes with its own risks. If you’re planning a much-needed summer vacation and planning to hit the road, there are a few things you should prepare before you go.
Step 1: Check Your Pup’s Microchip & ID Tag
If you haven’t had your dog microchipped, now’s the time to do it. Why? For some dogs, traveling can be quite frightening, which activates their fight-or-flight response. This leads to dogs escaping from the car or hotel and making a run for it. This is further complicated by the fact that a new environment can be extremely disorienting.
You also want to check to make sure your dog’s ID tag is updated with your current number and well-secured to their collar.
Step 2: Order a Dog Crate or Other Travel Safety Restraint
It is unsafe for dogs to be able to wander about the car as you travel. Not only can they accidentally bump into the gearshift, but they can distract you, causing an accident. And should an accident occur or you need to brake suddenly, you do not want your dog to be a furry, four-legged projectile.
Few dogs put up with being seatbelted, but if yours is one–great! Just be sure you’re using a dog-friendly seatbelt since the ones your car comes with aren’t designed for our four-legged friends.
For other pooches, a secure, belted-in crate is the way to go. If your dog’s crate is too big for a seat belt, use cargo straps to keep it secure. When selecting a crate, be sure your dog will have enough room to stand up and turn around comfortably.
Step 3: Practice Makes Perfect: Go for a Test Drive
Do you know if your dog gets car sick on long trips? If not, you will want to find out before you set out. Many dogs that travel well on short trips experience severe motion sickness on longer journeys.
A test run can also help you get used to strapping your dog’s crate securely and lets your dog get accustomed to traveling in the crate.
If your dog is one of many that tends to get sick in the car, they may be better off left in the loving care of a friend or family member.
Step 4: Print Your Dog’s Vet Records & Prepare Their Prescriptions
Pet prescriptions are easy to forget to pack. We recommend that you take the time to set them out within eyesight to help you remember to bring them along. Also, check to be sure that you have enough of your pet’s medications to last the entirety of the trip, including some extra in case your return gets delayed. Need to refill your dog’s prescription? Check out our online pharmacy.
You will also want a copy of your dog’s vaccination records. Should you get into an accident, they will be required for boarding or vet care for your dog. Emergency personnel take dogs to the local shelter should their owners have to go to the hospital. Having a copy of your dog’s vet records can be extremely helpful for the shelter staff.
Step 5: Plan to Take Plenty of Bathroom Breaks & Bring Water
For long-distance road trips, you will want to plan on stopping about every two to three hours. This gives your dog the opportunity to use the bathroom, stretch their legs, and have some water. Don’t feel rushed as you travel. Your dog will need some exercise for mental stimulation and to burn off their nervous energy.
When dogs get nervous, they tend to pant. This can lead to dehydration, so bring plenty of water, and don’t forget to leave the water bowl somewhere where you can easily reach it when you stop.
Step 6: Bring Along Everything You Need to Help Your Dog Feel At-Home
While you may understand the concept of vacation, your dog likely will not. Dogs tend to enjoy the comfort of their homes. So, turning your accommodations into a home away from home for your pooch can help reduce their stress. Keep in mind that “new” isn’t always the best choice for travel items since dogs gain comfort from the scent of their home.
We recommend packing the following comfort items:
- Your dog’s bed
- Their favorite toys
- Their normal food bowl along with food and treats
- A t-shirt that smells like you for when you have to leave your furry friend in the hotel room
Ready for Your Summer Road Trip?
This year more than ever before, you deserve a fun, stress-free vacation. Keep the fun in your summer vacation by preparing ahead of time. Begin ordering supplies a few weeks in advance, have your dog microchipped and update their vaccination records, and go for a test run.
If you need an appointment, we would love to see you and your dog. Just give us a call at 218-879-9280 or schedule an appointment now.
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