An Australian veterinarian who is an online friend of mine provided me with this article to use. . — Rosana
Before You Leave
There are several things you can do to prepare for a holiday with your dog that will make the journey more pleasant and relaxing for both of you.
When you have found the perfect place for a vacation, make sure you make a note of the address and contact details for the nearest veterinary clinic. Find out their opening hours, and also ask how they handle after hours emergencies. They may have a vet available on call, or they may refer you to a nearby emergency hospital. It’s harder to find this information when you’re in a strange place and in a panic.
Although you’re not likely to need them, ask for details of a reputable boarding kennel in the area. Again, unexpected things happen, and it may be that you will need to board your dog for a day or two.
Speak to your own vet about whether or not your dog will need any particular medication while on holiday. For example, in some areas, your dog may be exposed to heartworm disease, and in other areas, ticks may spread Lyme disease. You may need to treat your dog while you’re away to avoid him picking up a disease that isn’t a risk to him at home.
Check his vaccination status – there are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, if you’re traveling across country borders, you may need proof of vaccination, particularly with regard to rabies vaccination. Secondly, if for any reason you do need to put him in a boarding kennel for a day or two, he will need to be up to date with his routine vaccinations.
If your dog isn’t micro chipped, visit your vet and one implanted. ID tags can come loose, but microchips don’t fall out – your dog will have permanent identification should he lose his collar or tag. Speaking of tags, make sure it has your current cell phone number on it, and if it’s damaged or hard to read, replace it.
Some dogs have a sensitive stomach and can get diarrhea if they’re fed an unfamiliar food. Check online, and if your holiday destination doesn’t have shops where you can buy your regular dog food, then you may need to take it with you. Be sure to take enough for the duration of your stay.
Traveling By Car
Some dogs become nervous or anxious when travelling in a car, and you may need to spend some time getting him used to it. This can take a while, so start several weeks before your vacation. You start by walking your dog around the car, and rewarding him with a treat if he sniffs or shows interest in the car. The next step is to sit inside the car and coax him in with you, giving him a treat if he’s relaxed, then allow him to get out. If he shows anxiety, don’t cuddle or mollycoddle him, as this can make things worse. Repeat this step and don’t move on until he’s quite happy and relaxed sitting in the car.
Next, encourage him into the car with you, have all the windows down, and close the doors. Again, treat if he’s relaxed, ignore any anxiety, and after a few minutes, out you both get. When he’s able to sit in the car calmly (which can take a few weeks in some cases), your next step is to start the engine. Don’t move the car – just sit in the driveway with the engine running. Reward him if he’s calm, only stay a minute or two then turn the engine off.
Next step is to actually move the car in the driveway. When this is successful, and your dog isn’t stressed by the car moving, go for a short drive to somewhere really fun, such as the beach or a park. That way, he will associate car trips with going somewhere fun.
This process may take several weeks, with each step taking a few days to complete. Things must be taken slowly, and if at any time your dog shows distress, go back to the previous step.
You may find that your dog still feels nervous in the car; ginger can be helpful in reducing nausea in the car. You can feed your dog some ginger nut cookies, or give some chopped raw ginger. Ginger capsules from the health food shop also work, but can be costly depending on the size of your dog. One 500mg capsule is enough for a medium sized dog. A drop of food grade peppermint oil on the tongue can also help.
For a more sedative effect, the herb valerian may be given. In people, valerian can cause excitement rather than sedation. This isn’t thought to happen in the dog, but it would be a good idea to try valerian at home before you went on a trip. [I have been told that older valerian is more likely to have this effect on people. — Rosana]
Keeping your dog secure in the car is very important for both his and your safety. If you have a wagon, you may be able to fit a crate in the back. Alternatively you can put your dog in the back with a cargo barrier to stop him jumping into the back seat.
Whether your dog is in the back of a wagon or in the back seat of a sedan, always use a harness and attach him to the car – there have been horror stories of a driver who was involved in an accident and someone opened the back of his car to check on the dog. The dog leapt out of the car and was loose on a busy highway.
If your dog travels on the back of a SUV, again having him in a crate is the safest way for him to travel. Avoid your dog sticking his head out into the breeze; dust and wind can cause conjunctivitis, and the vehicle in front may throw up gravel which can scratch the eye.
Travelling By Plane
Each individual airline has their own rules about transporting dogs in planes, so it’s a good idea to phone them directly and check their individual requirements. However, there are a few guidelines that all airlines will comply with.
Most airlines won’t transport animals in extremes of temperature, so if it’s very hot or very cold, you may need backup arrangements in place. You will need to confine your dog in an airline approved carrier, with your name and a contact phone number firmly attached to the carrier.
It’s a good idea to put a familiar smelling blanket or a favorite toy in the carrier with your dog, as this may relax him during the journey. Some dogs are quite stressed by air travel; in this case you may want to chat to your vet, as he may suggest a mild sedative. Alternatively, you could try valerian as mentioned above.
If you want to give your dog water in the carrier, many people suggest using ice cubes which will melt and hopefully avoid spillage, but your dog’s bedding may still become damp if the ice cubes fall out of the container.
It’s not a lot of fun for your dog to be stuck on the tarmac waiting to be put on the plane so to avoid delays, avoid travelling in peak periods where it may be more likely that your plane is delayed. Try and book a non stop trip so your dog reaches your destination as quickly as possible.
It’s also a good idea if possible to actually watch your dog being put on your plane. Dogs are usually transported as “baggage”, and there are plenty of stories of baggage going missing or being put on the wrong flight.
- Checklist For Packing For Your Dog
There are a few things that are very useful to take with you when you travel with your dog. It’s a good idea to keep these items in a box so when it’s time to go, they’re easy to find.
- Spare lead and collar with ID tag.
- Bags to pick up feces – sandwich bags are ideal, but personal experience suggests that you don’t choose the cheapest on the supermarket shelf. They can be quite flimsy and may develop holes in them!
- Baby wipes are handy to wipe muddy feet before jumping into your car or coming indoors.
- A photograph of your dog is essential just in case he gets lost.
- Vaccination records.
- Any prescription medication, enough to last the duration of your stay.
- If your dog has a chronic illness such as diabetes, it is a good idea to pack the results of his most recent tests in case you need to seek veterinary advice when you’re away.
- First aid kit.
Contents Of A Dog’s First Aid Kit
o Gauze sponges and first aid adhesive tape.
o Stretch gauze bandage.
o Vetrap bandage
o Triple antibiotic ointment.
o saline eye wash.
o Betadine or iodine wash for cleaning wounds.
o Benadryl for allergic reactions
o Pepto Bismol tablets for gastrointestinal upsets.
o A muzzle – even the most loving dog can behave unpredictably when hurt.
o 1% Hydrocortisone cream
o Disposable rubber gloves.
There is a free downloadable guide to first aid for your pet available.