Take Me With You… Please!

Having a small dog or cat comes with the great opportunity and pleasure of traveling together. During the first year of having my dog, I brought her everywhere I could. She learned how to get in and out of the car and understood how to behave in public. I was proud to take her as my date to any social event possible. Not much has changed since that time, and now I find myself always considering my Schnauzer’s well being before finalizing my vacation plans. If possible, I will take her along for the the road trip. Just being in the car is an exciting trip to most pets. And, in the event I pass a park—look out! She whines and jumps about with pleading looks of “Please stop! I have to see my friends and check my messages”. Hitting the road is sometimes the best way to travel. I recommend you start your dog or cat off early to accustom them to the movement. For older dogs, limit your time at first, and build on each trip. For any dog, traveling with his owner is just another way to spend some quality time together.

Unlike family or friends, a dog will love you no matter where you take them. More and more pet owners are choosing and prefer to travel with their dogs. The hotel industry is responding to the number of pet owners insisting on having their pets with them in their hotel room. Most luxury hotels offer dog walkers, personal doggy beds with 300 count bed sheets and their own turndown service complete with a nighttime treat. This will eliminate your worries about leaving your dog alone. Don’t forget to tip these caretakers. The Four Seasons now accommodates dogs under 15 pounds and many hotels and resorts gladly welcome man’s best friend. Luxury, mid and lower priced chains such as Red Roof Inn, Sheraton, Westin and the Holiday Inn are others, to name a few. Size restrictions do vary, so always be sure to ask when making a reservation. Never just show up with your dog — always confirm in advance, and be sure that the hotel allows you to leave your dog unattended in the room while you are out.

You can also find excellent bed and breakfasts that welcome your dog or cat. For more information on pet-friendly places, go to petswelcome.com or dogfriendly.com. At these sites, one can find US and Canadian pet travel guides for all sizes and breeds. To assure that your happy pet enjoys the trip, you’ll need to plan ahead.

Here are some tips to make sure that you have an enjoyable vacation together:

Plan ahead. Call and make reservations and be honest about your pet.

Pack food, water and any well-loved toy for your pet to enjoy, as well as plastic bags to pick up doggie waste. For long trips, devise a back seat kitty litter for your cat.

Take frequent breaks from driving. Stop to walk, feed and water your pet outside every 2 to 3 hours.

Know about any emergency Veterinary clinics along the way.

Current rabies vaccinations are necessary for all pets traveling abroad.

Airlines all have different regulations for dogs in the main cabin or for stowage in the cargo area. Follow the airline’s instructions and know your dog’s exact weight. Many airlines require a subcutaneous microchip for international flights which can be implanted by your vet.

Purchase a soft collapsible carrier with an air screen for carrying smaller dogs or cats in the car or in the main cabin of an aircraft. This is only for animals that can fit under the seat, and airlines have specific weight and dimension guidelines. Cargo area travel will require a hard plastic crate as prescribed by the airline.

Safety-first car trips will require you to use a seatbelt harness or a secured carrier in the car, but never in the trunk!

Tranquilizers are available for dogs or cats that do not travel well in a car or plane. Check with your vet for more details as to what can work best for your pet.

NEVER EVER, leave your dog or cat in a hot car during the warmer months nor in a very cold car in the winter.

In the end, taking your four-legged friend can be very rewarding. Each time I travel, I find that my dog gets all the attention unlike when I travel alone. It’s funny how people will go out of their way to say “hello”, but say nothing if I were walking alone. The fact remains that other pet owners and pet lovers will both stop and notice a friendly dog — which helps us humans make friends more easily. I’ve always said “if you want to meet someone, borrow a friend’s dog and go out for a walk.” My schnauzer has many people friends that take her away hours at a time for just that. She always returns to me with stories on how she met all kinds of friends.

And there you have it.