fur_files_vacation_dogs_2_dogs_beach.jpgSummer is here! It’s time for out-of-town trips, going to the beach, or perhaps to visit some relatives in the province. Being close to nature brings many positive effects for both humans and animals. It’s the perfect bonding occasion for you and your pet. Read on as we share our tips for a worry-free vacation.

Make Sure Your Destination Is Pet-Friendly

Wherever you are going, always call ahead and make sure that your pet is allowed to come with you. If you are staying at a relative's house, it is courteous to ask permission before bringing your furry friend along. Follow the house rules and always practice good etiquette by cleaning up after your pet.

Are Your Companions Pet Lovers?

Make sure that whoever is coming on the trip is fine with you bringing your pet and that no one is allergic to it. If you have many activities lined up for your vacation, there may be times you won't be able to take your pet along with you. Do arrange for a pet sitter ahead of time and give instructions. Don’t leave your pets alone in unfamiliar territory as they might try to look for you and get lost in the process.

Give Your Pets Test Drives

Do your dogs panic when you put them in your car? Do they whine, cry, drool, vomit, or try to crawl underneath the seat?  Are your dogs hyper, and do they seem unable to stay put for a leisure ride? Your dogs may associate car rides with a stressful trip, going to the veterinary clinic, or other experiences from the past that might have frightened them.

To teach them good car-riding manners, take your pet for practice short car rides around the neighborhood. You may head to a nearby park, go to a drive-thru restaurant, visit a friend’s house, or head to a pet-friendly mall. Make the trip fun so they will associate riding a car as a pleasant experience. Treat it like a training session, and give lots of praise when your pet remains calm and behaved.

Some dogs get excited when they hear the hand brake being lifted because they think you’ve already reached the fun destination. Desensitize them during the practice drives by stopping the car without doing anything special or getting out of the car.

fur_files_vacation_dogs_spaniel_car.jpgKeep Car Rides Comfortable

Always start the journey with an empty bladder—this is true for both dogs and people. Feeding your pet before a trip could aggravate motion sickness and cause vomiting and potty accidents. For long trips, make sure to stop to stretch and for a toilet break. Give your dog short sips of water to prevent dehydration.

If your dog is barking or whining, find out what is causing the restlessness. Turn the air-conditioner on to relax the dog into a sleepy state. Calm your dog down with your soothing voice.

You may want to bring a pillow to elevate smaller dogs so they may peek outside if they wish. To give your dog a sense of security, bring something familiar—such as his or her favorite toy, bed, or blanket—while inside the car.

Buckle up!

Everyone must buckle up! No matter how experienced and trained your dog is, it’s better to be safe than end up sorry in an accident. These days, the roads are more crowded, people tend to drive faster, and there are more distractions. For your dog, get a harness instead of an ordinary collar and leash so you can fasten your dog to the seat belt. This will prevent him or her from lunging or make sudden movements that can distract the driver.

Not Too Much Fresh Air

The breeze and a view outside may ease down motion sickness, but please never let a dog totally stick its head out of the car window—no matter how cute it may look or how many times you’ve seen it done in the movies. Open the window only just a few inches, just enough to let them whiff some fresh air.

Riding in Pickup Trucks

If the dog can’t ride with you inside the vehicle, having them in a pet carrier is second best. A lot of accidents happen because pet owners fail to properly restrain their dogs.

How else do you secure your pet on the bed of a pickup truck? Make sure to use two leashes attached to the dog’s collar. Securely fasten this to opposite sides of the vehicle. This is for extra safety, as your pet might fall out if you swerve or brake abruptly. Some dogs have jumped out from the back of a pick-up truck upon seeing cats or chickens by the road.

Get a flattened cardboard box for your dog to lie on. The metal flooring of the back of the pick-up truck absorbs heat and may hurt sensitive paws when it gets too hot.

Cool Travelers

The summer heat can be intense, so travel early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Never leave your dogs alone inside your car, as they may suffocate or get heat stroke.

Be extra cautious if you have older and obese pets. Snub nose dogs (Pugs, Shih-tzus, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers etc) and cats (Persians and Himalayans) cannot tolerate heat or too much activity, either.

Keep Puppies under Four Months Old Home

It’s tempting to show off our fur babies to our family and friends, but unless your puppies have completed their vaccination shots, it’s best that they stay home. Bringing them along to new territory may expose them to contagious virus and diseases. Due to their curiosity and tendency to nibble on anything they see, we don’t know what toxins and bacteria they may pick up while we are not looking.

fur_files_vacation_dogs_pet_carriers.jpgPet Carriers

Always purchase your pet carriers weeks before your trip so your pets can get used being inside them.
Lure them inside by giving them treats or chew toys then lock them up while they are busy nibbling on the goodies.

Put an old towel or blanket on the bed of the carrier to keep it soft and cozy for them to fall asleep on. Don’t leave the room just yet. Gradually increase the length of time that you keep them inside. Be prepared for some whining as they beg for you to let them out of the cage. Make sure to reward your pet with treats and loving hugs after the “ordeal” is done.
Choose a carrier with good ventilation on all four sides, that has no wheels, and is very sturdy. Make sure your pet has enough space to stand up and turn around while inside the crate. Label your pet carrier with your full name, home address, and telephone number.

Plane and Boat Rides

Before booking a ticket, call the airline and find out their transport requirements. Visit the vet for a check-up then secure a health certificate. Your pet must be in tip-top shape before traveling. Make sure your vaccination card is updated.  All this is to be presented at the Quarantine section at the airport before you check-in. The amount to be paid will depend upon the overall weight and size of the cage with your pet inside it.

Carry a leash with you so you may walk your pet before check-in and after arrival. Remember, no food and drinks prior to the trip to prevent motion sickness.

Give Your Pets Baths before Leaving Home

Musky odors can make your fur baby a very unpleasant travel buddy. It’s always nice to cuddle up next to a sweet-smelling furry creature, so make sure your dog gets a bath before you leave.

fur_files_vacation_dogs_care_kit.jpgAssemble Your Pet’s Comfort Kit

Much like infants and young children, pets enjoy routines, stability, and their creature comforts. Pack a separate bag just for your pet so you can bring something familiar that smells like home.

- Favorite chew toys, ball, treats
- Portable food and water bowls
- Grooming brushes
- Dog shampoo transferred to a traveling kit
- Own supply of dog/cat food
- Mineral water
- Baby wipes for emergency clean ups
- Toilet paper/old newspapers
- Plastic bags/Pooper-scooper devices
- Small towels for drying dogs
- Extra leash
- First aid kit and supplements

Prepare for Emergency Situations

We can’t control everything that happens, so it’s best to be ready for mishaps. Before you leave home, print out an updated photo of your pet and take it along with you. Have customized PVC ID tags printed with your name and cell phone number. Fasten one to your pet’s collar and another to the cage. During out-of-town trips, having a fancy tag with your pet’s name is not really needed. You don’t want strangers or people with bad intentions to call your pet to come toward them.

As soon as you get to your destination, ask around for the nearest vet clinic. Should something happen to your pet, you’ll need to know where to go right away.

Leaving Your Pets Behind

Make sure that whoever is babysitting your pet understands all your specific instructions on your pet’s routine, food portioning, and when to give vitamins and medication. It has to be someone you completely trust.

Check if there are professional dogsitting services in your area. They offer daily and weekly rates while you’re away on vacation. Some veterinarian clinics and grooming stations offer dogsitting services as well.

For your peace of mind, visit a prospective kennel first to check out their facilities. Scrutinize how trained their staff is in the proper handling of pets. You have to be confident that your fur babies are in good hands.  

fur_files_vacation_dogs_husky_swimming.jpgKnow Thy Pet

As with humans, every pet has its own quirks and unusual behavior. Know how to handle your pet when it starts acting up. Is your dog laid back and easy to please, or is it highly energetic and always seeking attention? Be extra careful if you have a dog who is an escape artist and will do anything just to run free.

Some dogs are very protective of their owners, so they might be aggressive if anybody attempts to go near them or their master. A few small dogs get cranky or nervous around kids and may bite people and other animals out of self-defense.

In public places, always keep your pet secured on a leash and never leave it unattended. Don’t overindulge your dog with too much human food as this could spoil its tummy.  

Whether you head off to the sea, up a mountain, or just stay in the heart of the city, have fun and remember to keep your pet safe, comfortable, and happy!

For more Fur Files by this author, check out FN’s guide to keeping pets cool during the summer.

(Photo of Cocker Spaniel in car by Rob Santiago; all other photos by Gina Pestaño-Castro)

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