Including the family dog in the family vacation plans this summer can be a great alternative to sending Rover off to the local kennel. By planning ahead, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for you and your cherished canine companion. The American Kennel Club provides tips on what you need to know:
- You wouldn't let a small child ride in the vehicle without a seatbelt or some other restraint or special seat, would you? It's the same for dogs. Consider buying a harness for your dog that attaches to the seat belt in the event that a crate does not fit in your car.
- Crates are available from most pet supply stores and should be large enough to allow the dog to stand, turn and lie down. Choose strong crates with handles or grips that are free of interior protrusions. Look for a leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent
- material as well as ventilation on opposing sides.
- Do not allow your dog to travel loose in the back of a pick-up truck, it is unlawful in many states.
- To help prevent motion sickness in your dog, take several short trips in the car prior your journey. Feed your dog lightly before the trip, about one-third the normal amount.
- Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car during warm weather. When its just 80 degrees outside, a car can heat up to over 120 degrees inside in only a few minutes.
- Airline travel for dogs is difficult and regulations vary greatly among airlines — some don't take dogs at all, some don't take certain breeds at certain times. Call ahead for all the rules and requirements, then check and re-check all reservations. For the latest on which airlines allow dogs to travel click here.
- When making your own reservations, you must make reservations for your dog as well- you cant just show up with Rover in tow. There are restrictions on the number of animals permitted aboard each flight and pets are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Visit your veterinarian before your trip. Certification of health and vaccination must be provided no more than 10 days before air travel. Ask your veterinarian if it is best for your dog to be tranquilized for the trip. Dogs should be at least 8 weeks old and weaned.
- Each airline has its own variations on regulations and services. For example, if your crate doesn't meet its requirements, the airline may not allow you to use it. They may, however, allow your dog in the passenger cabin if your crate or carrier fits under the seat.
- All airlines are subject to federal regulations that prohibit shipping of dogs in extreme temperatures. Also be sure to check the temperature of the flight's starting point and destination; it may be too hot or too cold to be safe for your dog.
By Train, Bus and Boat:
- If you decide to travel by train, you may be disappointed. Amtrak does not allow pets of any kind, including dogs. (Service dogs are permitted.) Local and commuter trains have their own policies.
- Travel by bus may be equally disappointing. Greyhound and other bus companies that travel interstate are not allowed to carry live animals, including dogs. (Service dogs are permitted.) Local bus companies have their own policies.
- If you're taking a cruise, you may be in luck. For example, the QE2 luxury cruiser, which sails from New York to England/France, provides special lodging and free meals for your dog. Check with the cruise line or ship that you are considering for its policies, as smaller ships may not be able to accommodate your dog.
- If you plan to stay at a hotel or motel, be sure to find out in advance if it allows dogs because many do not or will charge an additional fee.
- If your dog is allowed to stay at your hotel or motel, and for hotels to continue to accept guests with dogs, it is important to respect hotel property, staff and fellow guests. Keep your dog as quiet as possible.
- If you must leave your dog alone in the room, crate it. Aside from hospitality considerations, this is for the safety of the dog (e.g., so it doesn't 'escape' when a housekeeper enters or eat something it shouldn't).
- International travel involves much more than interstate travel. Each country has its own rules and regulations. Check with the embassy or consulate of the country of your destination for details.
Other Helpful Tips from AKC:
- Make sure your dog has a sturdy leash and collar with identification tags, a license and proof of rabies vaccinations. Your home phone number should be on tags.
- Consider a permanent form of ID (such as a microchip or tattoo) that can increase the likelihood of reuniting you with your dog if it gets lost far from home.
- Carry recent pictures of your dog with you. If you are accidentally separated, these pictures will help local authorities find your dog.
- Have your veterinarian's phone number on hand and any special medication your dog needs. Some dogs can't adjust to abrupt changes in diet, so pack your dog's regular food, bowls and water.
- If you think you might need to board your dog at some point during your travels, bring your dog's complete vaccination records.