Keeping Your Pets Comfortable on Vacation

By: Kendra Thornton, @KendraThornton, FB link

I love to travel but I also love our family dog. That’s why I take special care to plan our trips in a way that’s pet friendly. I have family visiting me in Chicago next month and they’ll be bringing their own dog. This has made me think of some tips I can share with them to ensure that their dog is safe and comfortable when they come to see me. I may as well share these tips with you as well, as I’m sure many of you have beloved pets with which you sometimes travel.

I’ve found that for long drives, crating our dog is the best solution. At first I resisted doing this, as it seemed too confining. However, after studying the issue and consulting with our veterinarian, I found that this is the safest way to travel with a dog. As long as I give her plenty of exercise beforehand, she doesn’t mind it. This way, we can drive without worrying about our dog jumping around the car and posing a danger to herself and everyone else.

One thing I avoid whenever possible is taking our dog on a plane. Dogs hate to fly and there’s really no ideal way to keep them comfortable. Dogs are often forced to travel in the cargo section, which can be quite traumatic for them. I’d recommend flying with your dog only if there are no other options. If you must do this, PETA publishes some guidelines that you should study.

photo credit: American Dog Blog

photo credit: American Dog Blog

Dogs who are going to be near water or on a boat should always be wearing flotation devices. I keep this in mind for our beach vacations or when we’ll be anywhere near a lake. While most dogs enjoy swimming, they can get tired very quickly in the water. If your dog has any medical problems or is older, a flotation vest is especially important. Dogs usually have fun in and around water, but as with young children, you always have to keep a close eye on them.

If you’re going to be staying at hotels, make sure you check their policies regarding pets before you set off on your trip. Naturally, you need to find hotels that allow pets. Beyond this, you can seek places that go out of their way to accommodate pets and their owners. I like to find a hotel that’s close to a park or wooded areas that are good for walking dogs. Some hotels are extremely pet friendly and even provide treats and meals for dogs.

The whole reason for taking vacations is so that everyone can relax and have a good time. Since I consider our dog a part of the family, I do everything I can to make sure she’s as comfortable as possible. Aside from the tips I’ve already mentioned, I make it a point to feed her and walk her at close to the same times as I do at home. This helps her adjust to her new surroundings more easily.

By Jennifer Isbell:

If for some reason you can’t take your pet on vacation with you, there are several options you can look into in order to keep your cats and/or dogs safe and happy while you are away.

1. Boarding – Does your dog crave being around other dogs and new environments? Maybe boarding is for you. Sometimes, you can find a boarding situation that is almost like a canine doggy camp as in the case of Sun Dog Kennels in Traverse City.

sun dog kennel

At this facility, the only time your dogs are in their kennels is when they are there to eat and sleep. The daytime is theirs to enjoy as you choose – playing with other dogs, lying in the sun, lounging on the couch or whatever else they find enjoyable to do. In fact, your dog might have so much fun when you’re gone, they might not want to leave their new friends!

2. Pet Sitter – A pet sitter can come to your own home and give your pet the attention that they will crave while you are away. The best part is that your pet never leaves home, so they are able to adhere to a more normal routine. Pet sitters can be scheduled one or more times a day for walks, play times, feedings and even to give your pet their medications. To find a pet sitter in and around the Grand Traverse area, you can visit this website here for more information. There are some pet sitting services that also offer overnight care such as Pooch ‘N’ Purrs in Traverse City.

3. Off-site individual care – This may come in the form of having a friend or family member look after your pet in their house while you are away. This will give them a home environment with someone they may already know and possibly a fellow feline or canine companion to play with.

In all situations, please be sure to have your pets microchipped and/or have them wear a collar and a tag so that they have identification. Additionally, boarding facilities often require specific vaccinations in order for them to look after your pet. Lastly, and very important, always give your pet caregiver your veterinarian’s name and number in the case of any emergencies.

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