Taking Your Dog on a Car Trip – Preparations and Precautions
For many families going on a long car trip with their dogs is unthinkable. However, with a little bit of planning, traveling even long distances with your dog can add a lot of enjoyment with a minimum of fuss. There are some preparations before the trip which will help make things run smoothly.
Things To Do Before You Leave.
You don’t want your holiday interrupted by canine health issues so a week or two before you plan to depart bring your dog to the veterinarian to get checked out. Any issues can be cleared up before you leave.
Make a list of the supplies you should take with you. While on holiday your dog will prefer to eat his regular food, so take plenty of that. He will need to drink regularly so take plenty bottled water and a drinking bowl.
You will also need a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies and medication. A spare leash may also come in handy.
The dog will sense something different is happening so a favorite toy will help him relax and settle in.
If your dog is not used to car travel, take him on plenty of small trips so that when the big day arrives he is ready to go.
If your dog has not been microchipped, now is the time to get it done. If he gets lost in a strange area he won’t be able to find his way home and you may lose him forever. Also, make sure that his tag is securely connected to his collar.
Check that your holiday accommodation accepts dogs as guests.
Should Your Dog Be Crated For The Trip?
The answer is an emphatic “YES”. We’ve all seen images and videos of dogs with their head out of a car window and their hair (and sometimes their ears} blowing in the breeze. It looks great but it is not a good idea. Having a dog loose in the car could cause an accident. It there is an accident the dog could fly around the cabin of the car causing damage to the human occupants and itself.
You should get a crate which is large enough for the dog to fit in comfortably. He should be able
to stand up, turn around and lie down On the day of departure check for any loose items which could damage the dog.
If crating is a new experience for your dog you should have some practice sessions before the trip. Put him in the crate at home. Start with short sessions of around 15 minutes and gradually increase the time. He will become used the to crate and there will be no problems on your trip The crate must be strong with handles to make it easy to carry. There should be no protrusions inside the crate. The crate should be well ventilated on all sides. Put something comfortable on the floor so that the dog can lie down.
The crate may also come in useful when you are at your holiday destination. You may not want your dog with you at all times, for example you may want to go out to dinner without him. He is in a strange place and separation anxiety may lead him to damage the accommodation. Putting him in the crate while you are away will avoid this problem.
Do Not Leave Your Dog Alone In A Parked Car,
Never leave your dog alone in a parked car even for a short time. When parked the interior temperature rises very quickly. Leaving a window open with a small gap at the top makes very little difference. The AMVA has published a table showing how fast the temperatures can rise inside a car. If the outside temperature is 70 degrees, the inside temperature will rise to 104 degrees within 30 minutes. At these temperatures your dog is at risk of serious illness or even death.
In many states you will also be breaking the law. The University of Michigan has published an article which shows, state by state, the penalties for this offence and also the steps that can be taken by authorities to rescue your dog. Even in states which do not have specific laws regarding this you could still be prosecuted under anti-cruelty legislation.
Feeding And Rest Breaks
About three hours before departure give your dog a normal meal. You should never feed him in a moving vehicle. There will be less chance of travel sickness if your dog is travelling with an empty stomach.
Take regular breaks along the way to let your dog stretch his legs and attend to his toilet needs. It will be a good opportunity for you to revive too.
With some planning and a bit of per-conditioning your dog will travel quite happily in a car. Hopefully, you will enjoy many trips together.