Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go. With spring in the air, road trips with our beloved pet members of the family are just around the corner. Leave No Dog Behind® is the FIDO Friendly mantra and getting there safely is of utmost importance. In some states, seatbelts are mandatory for dogs. From a safety perspective, unrestrained pets are responsible for more than 30,000 accidents every year according to the ASPCA.
With the lives of you and Fido on the line, isn’t it important then to consider a safety harness when traveling? The back seat is the safest place for Fido to avoid air bag deployment in the event of an accident. Acclimate Fido to the harness by allowing him to wear the harness around the house for a few minutes at a time. Graduate to short car trips in the area. Work into longer trips and never scold Fido in the process. He’s getting used to it just as you are. If he could thank you for saving his life, right now he is.
Things to look for in a good safety harness? Strong webbing such as nylon, strong stitching, allow the pet to sit and stand comfortably, and comfort combined with reliability if an accident occurs.
Keep a copy of all vaccination records in your doggy’s duffel bag. Should an emergency arise once you are on the road, you will have the important information you need. You will also need these records when boarding Fido for the day or overnight if you take in an excursion where your furry companion is not allowed.
Collar and Leash
Remember that taking Fido out of the car for potty breaks must include his collar being secured and him being leashed (don’t forget the poop bags). A foreign territory brings unique smells that are oh so hard to resist, and your little darling can escape before you can say, “Sit, stay.”
Fido won’t want to get lost, so be sure that he has a current tag with an emergency phone number firmly attached to his collar or harness. Most people travel with a cell phone, making this the perfect number for your dog’s tag.
First Aid Kit
There are a number of doggy first aid kits on the market, and if you have the time, you can even put together your own. Check out the FIDO Friendly video first aid kit for a walk-through to get you through. Some essentials to include are:
Tweezers to remove ticks
Styptic powder to stop toenail bleeding
Eye wash to flush wounds
Antiseptic moist wipes
Food and Water
Be sure to bring along Fido’s favorite food so as not to upset his stomach. There are great roadworthy foods and treats on the market. If you will be cooking for Fido, make the food ahead of time, and pack it along with your own goodies. Your dog is used to drinking water from your hometown, and when traveling it’s a good idea to bring along as much of Fido’s drinking water as you can, and rely on bottled water as back-up. Nothing puts the damper on holiday spirits like an emergency visit to the vet.
Seat Covers and Blankets
Holidays are supposed to be fun, and nothing says fun like four muddy paws…not! Protect your seats with covers and blankets made especially for your type of automobile. Be proactive: Always carry additional towels and wipes to clean off your rambunctious Rover when visiting with family and friends.
Beds and Crate
Don’t leave home without Fido’s favorite blankie or bed. You don’t want him sleeping on the guest bed—or do you? Bring sheets, too, so if your furry companion is accustomed to sleeping on the furniture, he won’t leave any tell-tale signs. If Fido calls his crate his den, then bring it along for a good night sleep during your Thanksgiving trip.
Don’t forget the toys! If Fido is a nervous Nelly when away from home, help ease his discomfort by bringing as many toys from home as you can. Familiar smells and chew toys will help calm even the most anxious pet. If Rocky is a Rachmaninoff aficionado, by all means pack his favorite CD for his and your listening pleasure.
Double-Check Hotel Reservations
You are ready to go—but before you back the mini-van out of the driveway, call your hotel to confirm your reservation and that they are expecting Fido. Nothing says bummer like a newly implemented “no pets allowed” policy since you made your reservation.
About the author: Carol Bryant has traveled with dogs for over 18 years and is touted as a dog product and travel expert. A frequent media contributor, Carol has appeared on Animal Radio and Oprah Radio’s Gayle King Show, WBAL-TV, News12CT, and as a guest speaker at conferences and seminars about social media, writing, dogs and dog travel. She is also a two-time nominee from the Dog Writers Association of America. Visit her blog at www.fidoseofreality.com and the FIDO Friendly magazine blog at www.fidofriendly.com/blog, winner of the Best Dog Blog from Dogtime Media.
Susan Sims is the publisher of FIDO Friendly magazine. Visit www.fidofriendly.com for more.