Summer Travel With the Family Pet
By Patti Hermes – Parent to Parent
I bet you can't wait for the annual summer family vacation. But what about the dog? Do you just automatically get a pet sitter? Or make a kennel reservation? Depending on your travel plans, maybe he can come along this year!
Okay, if you have a bunch of pets, a menagerie of cats, dogs, birds and a duck in the back yard, then the pet sitter is definitely the way to go. If you're just making weekend plans, or your activities just aren't pet-friendly (I'm thinking amusement parks, or maybe a no-pets resort) then a good kennel may be the best place for your pet to spend your vacation. But there are plenty of ways to include the family dog (and even some cats) in your summer vacation plans.
Planning ahead is the key to successfully traveling with pets. Lots of families travel in cars and RV’s with their dogs, and some cats travel well, too. I won't suggest travel by plane unless it's absolutely necessary, as most airlines aren't even people-friendly anymore, let alone animal-friendly. But many animals would be fine on a cross-country trip on wheels, with plenty of stops built in for getting outside. If you're concerned about proper car restraints, there are a multitude of safe ways to travel and still make your dog comfortable, such as seat belts, car seats or even crates and carriers.
Along the lines of planning ahead: make sure your pet is up to date on all shots and any medications that you need to bring with you. Also, many perfectly normal dogs will have a problem with a change in the local water, so be sure to bring some bottled water, especially for the travel portions. Also make sure to have proper ID's attached to his collar. You may also want to make sure he's micro-chipped (with your cell phone number), in case of a separation.
Always check ahead to make sure any and all overnight accommodations will welcome your pet. And once checked-in, it's a good idea to ask about any, um, preferred potty areas and disposal. It's a good bet those planters right outside the front door should be off-limits, even for your chihuahuas. I've found highway rest areas generally have clearly marked pet areas, so just watch your step. But just because others don't always clean up after their pets doesn't mean it's OK to leave yours behind as well. Always come prepared with a supply of poop bags to clean up any whatevers.
So what about meal times? Well, it's summer time, so if the family prefers a sit-down restaurant, then either find an outside restaurant that accepts pets, or be prepared to leave behind at least one member to keep the dog busy. Never, never, never leave your beloved family pet unattended in a hot car for even one minute. It's also not a good idea to leave him unattended in a hotel room, either. A normally calm dog can become nervous and noisy when left alone to the unfamiliar noises of hotels/motels. That's what Pizza Delivery is for.
All in all, count on having your dog with you every minute of the day while on vacation. While that may seem daunting at first, with family members trading off responsibilities, it works out. Your great big lab that needs lots of exercise may well be a great addition to a family gathering at a lake cabin, with lots of outdoor activities to keep everyone busy. Likewise, some small dogs are perfectly suited to a city vacation, like LA, where lots of outdoor restaurants not only allow dogs but have a special menu just for them. And RV camping is suitable for both dogs and cats, and their traveling families.
The key is planning ahead. DogFriendly.com has most every resource available to help make traveling with your pets fun and worry-free.