Traveling with a Dog: A Vet Tech’s Guide | Broadview University

Traveling with a Dog: A Vet Tech’s Guide

man and his dog in the back of a car hugging after travelling with a dog

Many of us travel during the summer. Whether it is a family vacation, couples retreat or solo trip, we all want to take our pets with us. They are of course part of the family. Whether we are at home or travelling, we want to take the best care of our pets. There are some things to consider when travelling with your pets.

How Travel has Changed Since the Pandemic

Since the Covid-19 outbreak began, everyone has undergone some change in their daily routine, and that includes travel. Due to travel restrictions and regulations put in place by airlines, more people are traveling by car. Car travel brings a new set of challenges for pet owners and their dogs.

What Is Important for Dogs When Traveling by Car

Dogs love being with their owners, and a lot of them enjoy going for a ride in the car. If your dog’s only experience with a car ride has been going to the vet, your dog may experience some anxiety. If you’re planning an extended trip and your dog is traveling with you, here are some tips.

Travel with a Family Member or Friend

When another person travels with you, there’s always someone to keep the dog company or hold the leash if you must go into a store or make any stops. Dogs enjoy human companionship and having someone ride with the pet while you’re driving can ease anxiety.

Bathroom Breaks

Make sure to stop every couple of hours for your dog to have a potty break. It’s a good idea for everyone to get out of the car and move around after driving for an extended period. You should have a supply of doggy bags to clean up after your dog.

Make Travel A Positive Experience

Don’t wait for an emergency trip to the vet to acclimate your dog to riding in the car. Get your dog accustomed to riding in the car for short trips. Whether you’re going to the groomer, the vet, or on a trip to the dog park, your dog should associate a ride with something pleasant. When your dog behaves well, praise them and offer a treat for good behavior.

Crates, Carriers, And Restraints

Airbags are dangerous for humans and pets. When you travel with your dog, always keep the crate or carrier restrained with a harness strong enough to prevent the carrier from shifting if you must stop suddenly. Vets and vet techs suggest training puppies and dogs to use a crate at home and for travel. When dogs are properly crate trained, they feel secure in their den and will relax more when riding in the car. There are some excellent travel-friendly crates for dogs that keep them safe.

Calming Jackets and Vests

Many veterinarians recommend calming jackets and vests for dogs. Calming jackets for dogs work on the same principle as swaddling an infant. The apparel keeps them relaxed and calm. The calming jackets and vests are designed to apply constant, gentle pressure to calm dogs that are fearful or anxious. they are helpful for:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Thunderstorms
  • Veterinary visits
  • Travel
  • Fireworks

Keep Your Dog’s Head Inside the Window

Dogs like to have their heads out the window on rides, but it’s not a good idea. Cold air could get into your dog’s lungs and cause respiratory problems. Your dog is also a target for dirt, stones, or any flying debris. Let your pup enjoy the ride while being restrained in the car.

Pet Identification and Medical Records

It’s essential to keep your pet’s ID on the collar and carry veterinary records with you. You may want to schedule a visit with your vet to get your dog microchipped before the trip. In the chance that your dog gets lost, pets that are chipped have a better chance of being reunited with their owners.

Dog Carriers, Backpacks, And First Aid Kits

Food, water and feeding bowls, medications, and your dog’s medical information can all be packed in a backpack with a first aid kit. If your dog has a favorite blanket, take it along. Your dog will be less anxious with familiar belongings. If your dog is a small breed, a sling or backpack is an ideal way to carry them with you.

Enough Food to Eat and Not Overfeeding

Have a supply of your dog’s favorite food to last for the round-trip. If your dog is eating prescription food, order enough to have or get a supply from your veterinarian. If your dog isn’t accustomed to car rides, plan a few short trips to make sure they won’t suffer from motion sickness on a long trip. Each time you go for a ride, gradually make each journey longer.

Feed your dog a light meal several hours before your trip. It’s not advisable to feed your dog while you’re driving or at a rest stop. Too much food can cause motion sickness. As a precaution, dog seat covers for the back seat may be a good investment. Dogs should associate car rides with something positive. If your dog still has anxiety, your veterinarian may recommend an anti-anxiety medication to relax your dog and prevent motion sickness.

Minimum Amount of Human Food for Nutritional Purposes

Some foods for humans can have health benefits for dogs when they’re fed in moderation. When you’re on a trip, safe foods for dogs can be given for nutritional purposes to supplement their diet. Here are some human foods that are safe for dogs to eat:

Cheese in small amounts. Dogs can enjoy a treat of mozzarella or cottage cheese if they aren’t lactose intolerant. Cheese can be mixed in with their food.

Cooked and de-boned fish. If you give your dog tuna, avoid canned tuna and only give them freshly caught fish. Fresh, cooked salmon is also a special treat for dogs.

Peanut butter that doesn’t contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that’s toxic to dogs.

Cooked turkey or chicken without the skin and bones is fine. Make sure the poultry is cooked without any spices or sauces that could be harmful to dogs.

Plain yogurt without sugar, sweetener, or additives is acceptable as an occasional treat. If you aren’t sure if a food is safe for your dog, consult your vet tech. Always remove seeds and peels from fruits and vegetables. Although these foods are safe, they should only be fed in small amounts to prevent digestive upsets. For a complete list of safe foods for dogs and those they should never eat, visit the American Kennel Club (AKC) website.

Always Use A Leash

It is important to continually keep your dog on a leash when you stop for breaks. A dog who runs loose could get distracted by different sights and smells and run off. Keeping your dog on a leash is a precaution against aggressive or overly curious dogs. Large breed dogs can benefit from a harness with the leash attached.

Never Leave Your Dog in a Locked Car

Every year, as summer approaches, dog owners are warned against leaving their dog alone in a hot car. Heatstroke can be fatal to your pet, and it can happen quickly. What pet parents should know is that the same rule applies in cold weather. A car parked for extended periods can get too cold in the winter. In some states, leaving a pet in a locked vehicle, especially during extreme weather conditions, is against the law or considered animal abuse. Make the necessary plans to keep your pet safe and healthy before you travel.

Finding Pet-Friendly Hotels

Bring Fido is an excellent resource for finding pet-friendly services around the country. The comprehensive directory lists more than 250,000 hotels, restaurants, activities, events, and services that are all pet friendly. If you choose to board your dog instead of taking them on the trip, make sure to find a dog daycare facility instead of a kennel. In a kennel, dogs are confined and don’t have access to other pets. Dog daycare is an excellent alternative since pets have plenty of time for exercise and interaction with other dogs.

Pets That Stay at Home

If you have cats, birds, or other pets that will stay at home while you’re away, have a friend, family member, or a reliable pet-sitting service come in at least once a day to feed, water, and check on your pets. Some pet sitters will stay in your home while you’re away and take care of daily chores like bringing in the mail and watering plants, in addition to caring for your pets.

Be Careful Around Strange Dogs

When dogs are in a strange environment, there are a lot of different smells and activities they aren’t accustomed to. New surroundings can be stressful. Being careful around other dogs that your dog isn’t familiar with can prevent encounters that could result in injuries.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are on your way to an adventurous vacation, make sure to keep your pets safe and healthy. Prepare them for short rides to get them used to riding in your car. Properly restrain them so they are not injured during quick stops. Following this advice will allow you to have a fun journey with the whole family.

Veterinary Technician Program

Want to help other people take care of their pets while travelling? Interested in learning about becoming a vet tech? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge, qualities and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.