A Checklist for Vacationing With Your Dog

If you are considering traveling with your pet this summer, a little advanced planning can make the trip more enjoyable for both you and your dog. Here is a checklist of things you can do to keep your pet a healthy and happy travel companion.

Before leaving on a long trip, take your dog in to your veterinarian for a complete check-up, including an examination for external parasites such as ticks or fleas and testing for Dirofilaria immitis the internal parasite that causes heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease that affects thousands of dogs across the U.S. every year. To protect your dog from deadly heartworm disease while on vacation, ask your veterinarian for preventive medication. Monthly and daily preventives are available.

Always be sure your pet is wearing a collar with complete identification, including rabies and license tags, and keep it leashed at all times. Take current health and rabies vaccination certificates with you, especially if you will cross state or international borders.

If you will be staying with friends or relatives along the way, be considerate and find out if your dog is welcome. The same goes for hotels, motels, parks and playgrounds. If pets are not allowed, check if kennel facilities are available.

If traveling by air, contact the airline well in advance to find out about regulations and services and to make reservations. If possible, try to book a direct, mid-week flight with a minimum of stops. During warmer weather, choose early morning or late evening flights to reduce the risk of your dog overheating.

Whether you get a cage from the airline or a pet shop, it should be of adequate size for your dog, strong, escape proof, leak proof, adequately ventilated and properly labeled with your name, address, phone number and the dog's name.

Arrive at the airport early so you can exercise your dog before putting it in the cage and taking it to the proper area. Pick up your dog promptly upon arrival.

If your dog is not accustomed to traveling by car, take it for a few short rides before the trip. Some dogs may require motion sickness medication or a tranquilizer.

Don't feed your dog before the trip, but take food and water with you. on a longer trip, plan to stop every two hours for exercise and small portions of water. Upon arrival at your destination, continue to give food and water sparingly at first and give the main meal at the end of the day. Do not let your dog ride with its head out the window or in the back of a pick-up truck.

If you must leave your pet in a parked car, park in the shade. Lock all doors and open windows enough to provide ventilation without allowing the animal to jump out or get its head caught. In warm, humid weather, you should not leave your dog in the car. If your dog shows signs of heat stroke, such as rapid or irregular breathing, vomiting, loud panting, and pale or gray gums, immediately reduce body temperature by using a hose, a tub of cold water or a fan.

When camping, keep your dog on a leash and in sight at all times. Protect your dog from insects of the wild with a collar, spray or powder. Be on the look-out for skunks, porcupines, snakes and other creatures that can bite or injury your pet. Be considerate to other campers. Upon returning home, take your dog back to the veterinarian for an examination to make sure it did not pick up any internal or external parasites.

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