Woof! 6 Summer Essentials for Traveling With Your Dog

by Jill Gleeson

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday May 26, 2016

Summer is right around the corner and that means one thing: Getting the hell outta Dodge and on a much-deserved holiday. But what if you're a member of the 47 percent or so of U.S. households estimated by the ASPCA to have a dog? Should you bring Fido with you?

Absolutely, says dog expert and advocate Donna Chicone, author of "Being a Super Pet Parent."

"Always be thinking of your dog as truly a family member, not just a pet," Chicone advises. "Some dogs have separation anxiety and it's very difficult for them to be away from their pet parents. Take your dog with you if you can, unless they can stay home in their familiar environment with somebody who can take care of them almost like you would."

For those who would like to join the pack of doggie dads and moms who bring their four-legged family with them on vacation, Chicone has a few tips -- some a little unusual -- to help make the expedition easier.

1. Better Safe Than Sorry
Make sure Spot has a clean bill of health before making the journey. And while you're at the veterinarian, get Doc to sign a health certificate for your dog. It's required if you're taking him across state or international borders, or on an airplane.

"You also want to get a copy of your pet's health records and vaccination history to take with you," adds Chicone, "so if anything happens you have it."

And just in case, research a vet in the area you're traveling to and take their contact information with you.

2. Chip it Good
If you haven't micro-chipped your dog yet, do it. Make sure his collar has an ID with your name and cell phone number, too.

"It's also very important to have a photo of your pet when you travel," Chicone notes, "so if anything happens you can show people what your dog looks like."

3. Pack it Up
After you've packed your bag, be sure to pack your dog's -- what Chicone likes to call "your Pet's Personal Travel Kit... put in whatever is meaningful for you and your dog." Items to consider include leashes, harnesses, waste bags, meds and supplements, grooming supplies, toys and even bottled water. Dogs can get upset tummies drinking water from a geographical area different than home.

4. Emotional Rescue
To minimize your dog's stress while traveling, keep your own stress level down. Dogs can sense how you're feeling emotionally, says Chicone. "If you're stressed during the trip, just talk to them. Remind them 'Everything's cool. We're going to be fine.' Stay connected with your dog."

For dogs that have difficulty with loud noises like backfiring cars or fireworks, Chicone recommends a Thunder Shirt, which works by compression, making them feel more physically secure.

5. Leaving on a Jet Plane... Not
Chicone and pretty much every animal advocacy group on the planet agree: Don't take your dog on a plane unless it's absolutely necessary.

"Airlines will put dogs in cargo," details Chicone, "and cargo has temperature fluctuations, it can be very noisy, the dog can be thrown back and forth and many times dogs don't make it. It's so stressful...talk about a psychological challenge for a dog."

6. On the Road
If Rover hasn't been on many long road trips, get him ready by going on a series of short drives and gradually increasing the length of the journey. Give him only a light meal about four hours before the trip to minimize motion sickness, and be sure to stop every 90 minutes or so for a walk and potty break.

Don't allow your dog to ride with his head of out the window, which can cause eye injuries, or in the front seat, which can distract the driver, or in the open back of a pickup truck.

"The worst place for dogs to be is in the bed of a truck," Chicone stresses. "Pets need to travel in a well-ventilated, secure crate sized to the pet, or have them in a harness seat belt if your car is too small for a crate."

"Most of all," concludes Chicone, "have fun with your dog and treat him like the family member he is. Take pictures to preserve the fun memories you'll be making together."

Jill Gleeson is a travel and adventure journalist based in the Appalachians of Central Pennsylvania. Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @gopinkboots.