As August approaches, many last-minute trips are planned before school starts. If your travel plans include your pets, you might want to learn more about traveling with your dog before getting into the car. Jami-Lyn Derse, DVM, founder of Veterinary Housecall Care, started an in-home veterinary care service after being asked to visit patients homes when animals were too scared of the office or just don’t like riding in cars.
If you’re set on taking your pup to the vet, you should make sure your dog is a good candidate for road trips. Plus, there are a few rules to follow, according to Dr. Derse:
- Dogs belong in the back of the car. Keeping them in the back seat or back of an SUV is best.
- Small dogs can be kept in a carrier, especially if it makes them feel comfortable and secure.
- Keep the car a cool/comfortable temperature. You can roll down the window so they can sniff outside, but don’t open it enough for them to hang their whole head/body out while you’re driving.
- Stop every few hours so they can go to the bathroom and offer small amounts of food and water. Dogs can get car sick just like people can, so giving them a big meal before the trip is not a good idea.
Dr. Derse also says you don’t have to bring too much with you. It’s not like traveling with children, when you may pack a bunch of toys to keep them occupied. All you need is “a collar or harness, leash, water and food bowls, dog food, first aid kit and blanket for them to lay on in the car.” When you do have your kids in the car with your animals, you might want to take a few extra precautions. “Make sure the kids and the dogs are separated,” advises Dr. Derse, whose 1 year old daughter Juliana often rides along with her dogs. “Dogs should not be sitting on kids laps or jumping over the seats.”
You’ll also want to be sure your dog is getting plenty of H2O. One trick is to feel your dogs nose, which should be cool and wet. Dr. Derse also recommends looking for these signs for dehydration: sticky mucous membranes (gums), excessive panting and, in severe cases, the dog may collapse. And make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations. The last thing anyone wants is a stressed out pup, so prepare and be ready for a fun family trip.