Vacationing with Your Dog

The dog days of summer are quickly approaching, and before long, humans will be flocking to beaches, lakes, and other summer getaways for a break from the reality that we call life. For many people, vacations are easy to plan and they can get away as soon as they’ve clicked “Book-It!” For others, booking a dream getaway can be a little more stress inducing, as it requires consideration of furry family members. As many people know, our beloved pets are not always welcome to our travel destinations. However, there are many ways you can make arrangements so that your best furry friend can join you, and so that he stays happy and safe during your travels. I have not taken a vacation without my dogs, yup plural, in at least 5 years, and I can’t imagine one without them now. However, there are many things to consider when deciding whether Rover should join you on your vacation or not.

First, and foremost, take into consideration whether your dog will enjoy the trip with you. Does your dog get nervous or car sick on long car rides? If he does, it may be best not to venture out without your canine companion. Does your dog settle easily into new environments? If she does not enjoy sudden changes, a vacation may not be the best option for your dog, as the location change could cause unnecessary anxiety. Is your dog reliably housebroken? If you have a new puppy who is learning or a senior who has problems with incontinence, you may want to consider other options. The key to step one is to be sure that the vacation will be enjoyable for both you and your dog.

If Fido is a happy traveler, then your next step is to choose a destination. Take into consideration as to whether your dog will be able to get out of the rental with you or if he’ll be left behind while you are out and about. If you are visiting a big, heavily populated city to go shopping or dine at 5-star restaurants, it’s likely that your dog won’t be able to join you. So, he may be happier staying in the comfort of his own home or a familiar boarding location. If you plan to visit a destination that is full of dog friendly, outdoor activities, by all means, bring your furry friend along! When you pick out a dog friendly location, be sure to look into the state and city laws regarding dogs. While breed specific legislation is crazy, some states have laws restricting specific breeds in certain areas, or they require certain breeds to be muzzled if they are out in public – regardless of the dog’s temperament. The last thing you want is to have to pay any hefty fines in a state you are only visiting (not that you want to pay them in your home state either!) The laws may also help you determine that you do not wish to visit that specific location. Just like step one, step 2 is all about making sure you and your dog will both have fun on your trip!

For step 3, you must find a location that will happily welcome you and your pup, or pups. There are several options to consider, and you should decide based on what’s best for both the 2 legged and the 4 legged travelers of your party.

  • If you and your pooch enjoy “Ruffin’ it” and taking in all that the great outdoors has to offer, camping is wonderful way to spend your time away from the everyday ho-hum. Not to mention that it can be very budget friendly! Camping has lots of pros, but it requires a lot of preparatory work before venturing out, and lots of extra considerations to factor in if you plan to take your pup partner. That’s a blog for another day!
  • If you travel with small dogs, or 1 large dog, many hotels offer pet friendly accommodations. It’s well worth searching around, and often times, pet friendly hotels can be a little more budget friendly than the next option.
  • If you travel with larger dogs, or more than 2, it may be best to search for a private home owner who rents their home out as a vacation rental. Though it is often not a budget friendly choice, this is one of my personal favorite options.

Regardless of which option you choose, be sure to contact the owner of the rental property or camp site before making your plans to be sure that pets are allowed. Ask important questions about weight or breed restrictions, pet deposits, and dog walk locations. Websites like Bring Fido will become your best friend’s new best friend, as they can help you narrow down your options. However, pet policies can and do change, and the websites are not always up-to-date regarding pet policies.

A few other things to consider are listed below, and are often over-looked when planning a vacation with your dog.

  • Is your dog up-to-date on vaccinations? Or have you had your pet’s antibody levels titered recently? Be sure that your dog is protected from common viruses and potential illnesses that may be more common in your destination location than at home.
  • Be sure to take proof of vaccination/titers with you, just in case you need them. Some rental properties may require proof of vaccination. It will also be convenient to have them in case of an emergency in which you would need to present them to a vet.
  • Are you currently using parasite prevention on your dog? You wouldn’t want fleas or ticks in your home, and you don’t want to cause a flea infestation in your rental. Having your dog on current prevention will also reduce the risk of picking up parasites that you may not have an issue with at home. If you live in a colder weather state, and you are visiting a state with warmer, more humid weather, things like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes (which transmit heart-worm) may be more of a threat.
  • Does your dog have proper identification on his collar or harness? Is he micro-chipped? This is especially important to consider in case your dog gets lost on vacation. It will greatly increase the chances of him being reunited with you.
  • Locate a veterinary office and an emergency vet near your destination and save that information in your phone. While you hope to never have to use this information, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Finally, go over your pre-travel check list to be sure you and your dog are ready to hit the road. And, most importantly, once you and your canine com padre reach your destination, be sure to have a tail wagging good time! If you have any travel tips that were left out, please share them in the comments! It’s great to hear what others plan for their vacations with their dogs!