Traveling With Your Pet [part 2]: Living on the Road

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When you take a vacation with your pet, you often have to completely adjust your itinerary – including hourly schedules, lodging and even the restaurants you plan to visit. You can’t leave a cat, dog, parrot or hamster in a hot, sun-soaked automobile while you grab a sit-down lunch. Likewise, it’s not a good idea to try and sneak a pet, especially a dog, into a hotel that doesn’t cater to pets; if security cameras don’t catch you, it’s likely the dog will bark at some point and blow your cover. In part 1, I discussed ways to limit the dangers of traveling with your pet in a car or truck. Here I’ll cover some things to consider once you reach your destination.

Traveling with a pet doesn’t have to be an exercise in frustration or result in extra fees. With just a little organization and preparation, you can enjoy miles of freeway freedom, and fun, new destinations.

The Essentials

Like humans, pets require a few necessities: food, water and bedding. Bring enough food for several extra days; for better or worse, detours and derailed plans can extend your time on the road and searching for a 24-hour pet store in the middle of the night in a strange city isn’t my idea of a good vacation. If you feed your pet a specialty brand of food, this rule is particularly important.

Make sure to also bring water with you in the car; a gallon jug will suffice and give you plenty of water to offer during stops. Another thing to consider is how your pet will drink the water — I like to bring a plastic bowl, or better yet, a collapsible silicone bowl (you can find one at most pet stores).

With your pet properly contained, you’ll want to stop every two to four hours for a break. Giving your pet time to stretch, run, walk and go to the bathroom is important for both physical and mental health. Exercise and a little freedom will go a long way to reducing your pet’s travel stress, and offering the opportunity to drink and go to the bathroom can help reduce strain on your pet’s bodily systems.

Other Necessities

Beyond the food and water essentials, you should also bring along a few items that might further ensure your pet’s health and safety. Near the top of the list, you’ll want to bring a copy of your pet’s vaccination record, as well as all medications – and, as with food, bring a few extra day’s worth of meds, just in case. Additionally, make sure you pet has proper collar tags and identification, and that any microchip information is up to date.

Other considerations to make: comfort items like familiar bedding, toys and chews can help reduce your pet’s stress and make sleeping in a strange location easier. And of course, pet insurance could be a helpful thing to consider before you begin a trip with your four-legged friend.

The Cyber Connection

Whether you’re planning a trip or flying by the seat of your pants, today’s technology can make traveling with a pet a cinch. Free apps for both Android and Apple platforms ensure that nearly anyone with a smartphone can access information for pet-friendly places anywhere in the world. Here are a few that might help:

  • Iams Vet 24/7: Using your current location, the app will pull up the nearest veterinarians as soon as you open it. It provides a phone number with one-tap dialing, the ability to view the location on a map, as well as driving directions – if you have navigation on your phone, this will also give you turn-by-turn voice directions. This is an essential app for the health and safety of your pet while on the road and it is available for free for both Android and Apple platforms.
  • Dogfriendly.com: A mobile version of the parent site that has been around since 1998, dogfriendly.com provides guides for travel in the U.S., Canada and even internationally. Broken down by state and province, the guides give you detailed information on pet-friendly accommodations, RV parks and campgrounds, attractions, parks and even restaurants by city. It even has airline pet travel rules and fees listed by carrier, and a highway guide that breaks down interstate highways by states. Those are just the highlights; this free app is packed with lots of valuable info for the traveling pet owner and available to Android and Apple users.
  • Purina Pet Health: Use this app to store key information for each of your pets for easy recall, proof of vaccinations and managing appointments. Individual identification, including weight, spayed/neutered, color, eye color, markings, microchip number and license number are easily filled in. Medical history, including vaccination records, medical conditions, medications, insurance information, allergies, special needs, diet and surgeries are included. The appointments portion allows you to select by type (kennel, vet, training, etc.), specify pet, set the date and time and then save it to your smartphone’s calendar. The app also allows you to find a vet by zip code or city using Google’s search and mapping technology and provides directions and one-touch calling. Available for free on both Android and Apple platforms.

Image: Courtesy of tmst23 on Flickr

 

About the Author

Brian Lynn

As an editor and writer for such publications as ESPN.com and Outdoor Life, Brian has extensive experience in the outdoors realm. However, his knowledge comes with at the price of experience. You can learn a lot from him because he’s done most of it wrong the first time and can tell you all about what you should do instead.

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