It’s fair to say that many of us who count our four-legged friends as family members want to take them with us when we travel, especially during the summer months. It’s also true, however, that taking a dog-friendly summer vacation requires an extra level of thought and preparedness.
Some pet owners choose to hire a pet sitter or leave the family pooch with a friend before leaving for vacation. But if you’re determined to bring your dog along, there are several factors to consider. With a little pre-planning and research, you can have an awesome dog-friendly summer vacation.
Hit the road with your pooch
Are you driving, flying, or taking the train with your pooch? The details and rules regarding your dog will differ considerably depending on your chosen mode of travel. Many experts agree that driving is the safest way to travel with your dog, but you must restrain your dog while on the road, especially during long trips. It’s interesting to note that only about 16% of dog owners utilize proper safety restraints in the car.
Restraining devices include doggy car seats, crates, and seat belt adaptors designed for canine use. If for some reason you can’t obtain a dog restraint before you leave, try to keep your dog comfortable in the backseat during the drive and away from the steering wheel, gear shift, brake, and accelerator. Be prepared to take frequent breaks so that your dog gets proper exercise. And always keep your dog on a leash whether your break occurs at a rest area, truck stop, or vacant field.
Flying with your dog
The Humane Society of the United States reports that flying may not be the best choice for travel when it comes to your furry friends. Certain breeds, such as those with “pushed in” faces, including bulldogs and pugs, have short nasal passages that cause vulnerability to oxygen deprivation at high altitudes. Unless you have a certified service animal, only small dogs in carriers that fit under the seat can fly in the cabin. That means most dogs have to travel in the cargo hold, which can deadly.
Upgraded Points crunched Department of Transportation data from 2017 and 2018 to study animal safety on planes. Their review shows Alaska Airlines had the best safety track record for 2017 and 2018, while Hawaiian Airlines had the worst.
The study also showed the number of pets flying on United Airlines dropped about 16 percent between 2017 and 2018. Last year, United temporarily stopped flying pets as cargo after three high-profile incidents including the death of a French Bulldog puppy that suffocated after a flight attendant ordered the dog’s owner to put the puppy’s carrier in an overhead bin. United revamped its requirements after a review held in conjunction with American Humane.
Despite safety precautions, flying is stressful for dogs. Before you do it, ask yourself if you’re willing to treat your dog like luggage. If not, consider whether you can use an alternative form of travel.
Pick a dog-friendly destination
One of the most helpful tips when planning a vacation with your dog is to choose a dog-friendly destination. Specific communities are more welcoming to dog owners than others, and you should be aware of any local policies and ordinances regarding dogs. Look up local leash laws and locate dog parks or dog-friendly beaches where your pooch can get some much-needed exercise. Seattle, Chicago, Denver, and Manhattan are among the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S., where you’ll find plenty of cafes and parks that welcome canine companions.
Unfortunately, some dog breeds are considered more dangerous than others and may be subject to breed restrictions. Because city’s, county’s and individual businesses can set breed restrictions, you need to do your research before traveling with a dog that could face restrictions. According to Psychology Today, the most commonly restricted dog breeds (at least when it comes to insurance) include Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Akitas, and Doberman Pinschers.
As for your vacation lodging choice, don’t leave the decision to chance. Before booking a room, look for dog-friendly vacation resorts or pet-friendly hotel chains. You don’t want to find out your furry pal is unwelcome when you arrive to check in. Book in advance, and make sure that your reservation says you’re traveling with a dog. You may have to pay an additional fee, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind of knowing that your dog is welcome at your chosen accommodations. If you plan, you also may score some vacation deals.
Be prepared for anything
Dog-friendly summer vacation preparation involves much more than merely booking a pet-friendly hotel. While vacations are a time of leisure, where you and your dog can unwind and enjoy each other’s company, accidents can still happen. So be prepared for anything.
Always carry a copy of your dog’s vaccination and license records with you, and double check that your dog’s collar includes both a rabies tag and up-to-date contact information. If your dog has a microchip, be sure your contact information is up-to-date. You may also want to consider the benefits of pet insurance, especially if your dog is in a vulnerable subset such as a senior dog or puppy.
Much like health insurance for humans, pet insurance policies and providers vary, so you should shop around to find the right coverage for your needs. Travel-related pet insurance should cover accidents and illnesses, as well as foreign body ingestions in case your pup eats something he or she shouldn’t while you’re on the road. Purchasing pet insurance before packing your bags may pay off during the rest of the year as well, as veterinary care can be expensive.
There are many facets to keeping your dog safe and happy when you’re far from home. Along with investing in pet insurance and a restraining device, you may also want to bring along a dog-centric, first-aid kit, mainly if your summer vacation plans involve camping with your dog.
If you’re planning to camp and wonder if there are dog-friendly national parks, the quick answer is yes and no. Most allow dogs on leash in certain areas, including many campgrounds. Dogs must be on a leash and can’t walk on many hiking trails. If you want to travel to a national park or forest with your dog, do your research first and visit the park-specific website to make sure you know all the rules.
Take the time to plan. Then you and your pooch will have tons of fun on your dog-friendly summer vacation.
– Noah Rue