10 Dog Dangers That Can Derail Your Vacation
Your dog is a part of your family, and taking him along with you on your next trip can make the journey a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Fortunately, many cities (both in America and abroad) are beginning to pride themselves on being very pet-friendly.
“A lot of restaurants now allow you eat outside with your pets. Our public park systems are allowing pets on leashes,” said Susan Smith, owner of PetTravel.com. “For the most part, our culture is becoming more and more accommodating. That’s because there’s demand for it from people who know how fun vacations with your pet can be.”
Nowadays, there is little you can’t do with your pet when traveling, added Kim Salerno, a pet travel expert who runs the website TripsWithPets.com. The key, however, is preparation. You can’t just pick up your dog and go, assuming it will all go well. Here are ten potential doggie-related vacation disruptions and what you can do to prevent them.
Dogs have good memories, and if you regularly show your dog that a trip to an unfamiliar place always ends at home, he’ll become increasingly comfortable every time he ventures out, Smith says.
If your dog doesn’t go out much, start with a trip to the pet store. Let him play and buy him something to reward him with when you get back home. For your next trip, go slightly further away (perhaps to a friend or relative’s house). Do this again and again. Before long, he’ll respond normally to any sort of travel and you’ll avoid the understandable anxiety that would come with a week-long vacation had it been his first time away from home.
He Gets Lost
Smith says there are big benefits to microchipping your dog. “If you lose your dog while on vacation and he doesn’t have a microchip,” she says, “there’s an 85 percent chance you won’t see him again.”
Additionally, make sure that your dog is always wearing his collar with identification tags on while you’re away and that your name and cell phone number is clearly printed on the collar or tag.
He Doesn’t Clear Customs
Johnny Depp recently made news in the pet parenting world for trying to bring his two dogs, Pistol and Boo, into Australia without filing the appropriate paperwork. That’s because, Smith says, many islands like Australia, Japan and Hawaii don’t have rabies and have strict policies on how animals are allowed to enter their borders.
Be sure to research the import requirements of any country or foreign territory you might be traveling to. Some, including the islands listed above, require up to six months’ notice if your dog will be entering the country. Your dog should also be up-to-date his vaccines, especially rabies, before your travel.
Your Hotel Won’t Accommodate Him
The list of doggie amenities available in the marketplace today is endless – including pet room service (with gourmet pet meals), pet concierge, pet massages, pet welcome baskets, pet walking and sitting services, plush pet beds, dedicated dog potty areas and more, according to Salerno. Fortunately, these services are offered at locations ranging from budget motels to luxury resorts.
Be sure to request a pet-friendly space when you first reserve your room, as Smith said that many places advertising themselves as animal-friendly only have a certain number of rooms dedicated for guests with pets.
He’s Not Secured During Travel
Carriers are great for long car trips, but some dogs simply don’t like them. If you want to use a carrier for transport, spend some time leading up to your vacation making him feel relaxed in there.
“Find ways to make him think the carrier is a reward,” Smith said. Give him his treats in the carrier, keep it near his food and water, praise him for going in there on his own and leave the door open as much as possible so he feels comfortable.
Salerno said there are also other ways to properly secure your dog during travel, including pet seat belts, pet car seats or a vehicle pet barrier. She said seat belts are the best option, however, because they will restrain your dog in the case of a sudden stop or accident.
He Won’t Eat or Drink
A sudden change in your dog’s water quality can wreak havoc on his digestive health. This is especially important if you’re traveling to a foreign country like Mexico, where water quality standards aren’t as stringent as they are in the U.S. Bring some tap water from home if you can, assuming that’s what he drinks regularly, Smith says.
When it comes to food, consistency is the key. Even if you’re feeding your dog high-quality food, if it’s significantly different from what he eats at home, it might make him feel sick. Bring his regular food and make sure that, if you’re traveling abroad or flying, it’s sealed in its original container, as open bags of food won’t clear airport security or border customs going into a place like Canada, Smith says.
He Panics in the Water
Sure, you’ve swum with your dog plenty of times in your backyard pool, but does that mean he’s ready for a frigid, temperamental ocean? Not necessarily.
Salerno says one of the most common situations in which a dog will fall into the water is during the transfer between a dock and a boat and recommends personal floatation devices (PFDs) for all dogs, even ones with swimming experience, whenever they’re around unfamiliar water. Not only will these devices keep your dog safer should he fall into the water, it’ll also make getting him out of the water a lot easier.
“Help your pet get used to the PFD by first practicing at home for short periods of time,” Salerno says. First, let him walk around while wearing the device. Then, let him swim with it on for a few minutes while you’re standing by. Try this again and again, extending the amount of swimming time each attempt.
He Acts Out
Just like mealtime, your dog will be much happier on vacation if you stick to his usual routine.
“Dogs have such good memories,” Smith says. “If you go for a walk at 7:30 in the morning most days, he’ll be expecting it even when you’re away from home, and failure to stick to that routine will leave him stressed or agitated.”
He Pees Often and Everywhere
Accidents will happen, so, wherever you go, bring some type of paper towel product with you. Also, if you’re concerned about the frequency with which you can bring your dog outside for breaks, Smith suggests bringing some puppy pads with you and spending a little time before you go getting your dog used to using them.
He Gets Sunburn or Overheats
Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to both sunburn and overheating. Excessive panting, lethargy, dehydration and a high temperature are symptoms of heatstroke in dogs. If left untreated, heatstroke can be deadly. If you go to the beach or plan to spend a significant amount of time outside with your dog, make sure you have plenty of water with you and access to shade. And don’t be afraid to lather your pup up with some dog-friendly sunscreen, too.