Taking The Dog on Vacation

The District Vet

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beautiful dog of dachshund, black and tan, buried in the sand at the beach sea on summer vacation holidays, wearing red sunglasses

Fall is for cooler weather and road trips! How much fun would it be to take your dog on vacation? To play in the woods, swim in a river, romp through fall foliage? The summer may be too hot, and the winter too cold, but September, October, and November are perfect for that getaway.  Plan ahead and your trip will be enjoyable.

Consider how much your dog likes the car. In advance take the pup on short car rides and assess their tolerance of sitting in a moving vehicle. For dogs that are wary of the car, begin by taking them into the car and sitting there for a few minutes without it moving. After a few times, start the engine, and when this is routine, go for short drives, slowly building in distance. Having their dog bed or favorite toy can help them feel more comfortable.

Once on the road, make frequent potty stops. Dogs frequently pant when in a car – usually from happiness and excitement – and swallow large amounts of saliva. This may result in them needing to urinate more often. Walks also allow them to expend a bit of energy, allowing them to sit more comfortably on the car.

Engage child locks and window locks, if available. Dogs have an uncanny ability to stand on the window button and contemplate jumping out. Also have the sunroof closed to a degree where escape is not an option.

Treat a dog like a baby when in the car: do not leave the dog unattended. Cars heat up in the sun very quickly as they allow UV radiation to enter via the windows and the heat becomes trapped. A car can reach over 100 degrees within minutes.

Having a small pack of supplies, especially if you are going on a long trip, may help avoid some sticky situations. Even dogs used to travel may vomit from motion-sickness. A few towels, some Windex or non-toxic upholstery cleaner, and plastic bags should be packed in anticipation of a messy situation. The rest of your kit should include a pair of tweezers to remove splinters and ticks, a bit of bandaging material and gauze pads, topical wound cleaner, scissors, and any medications your dog commonly takes.

Plan for your trip to be a bit longer than anticipated. Unexpected things happen during travel, so bring bowls, water in bottles, and extra food. Even if gone for the day, a flat tire may impede your immediate return. Let’s not have the dog go hungry.

Before going on a road trip, plan your destination. Day trips are easy, but if overnighting at a hotel or other lodging, be certain that it is pet-friendly. More hotels accept pets than in the past, but even some of these have restrictions. Bring a blanket for your dog to lay on, this will help keep the hotel clean. Also do not leave your dog unattended in the room, unless the hotel allows this and your dog is comfortable being alone. A barking dog is a sure-fire way to be asked to leave your lodging. Respect the property’s rules. Many hotels have designated walking areas and leash rules. Be a good resident.

Every dog should have ID. A tag with your phone number is essential, as is a collar with your information embroidered on it. Microchips are strongly encouraged, too. Also take with you a copy of your dog’s vaccinations.

Last, ask yourself if it is appropriate to bring the dog. Is the pup too nervous? Will the trip be centered around the dog, or will they be left to their own devices for periods of time? Although roar trips can be exciting and fun for both of you, sometimes it is best if Rover stays at home.

Dan Teich, DVM is Medical Director at District Veterinary Hospitals.