By Janet McAfee
The holidays are right around the corner, and many travelers will take their beloved dogs along with them. After a year of quarantine, Americans are ready to hit the road and enjoy family celebrations. Traveling with canine family members is now easier than ever. More businesses happily accommodate them once they discover this means more revenue. It is estimated that 75% of dog owners include them in holiday celebrations, and 22% include them in travel to holiday trips and events.
Dogs love to travel! Chances are your dog races to go with you when you gather up your car keys. Dogs are natural nomads, traveling in packs in the wild. They are curious creatures who love seeing new places and meeting new friends. Watching their joyful wonder at the passing scenery increases your pleasure during car trips.
Some restaurants have “doggie” menus with special cooked items for canines. Many major hotel chains including Marriott’s Residence Inn, The Fairmont, Motel 6 and Best Western allow pets. The Red Roof Inn hotel chain is among the many that don’t charge a nightly fee or deposit for pets. The La Quinta Resort and Club advertises PAWS La Quinta Pet Experience that includes stainless steel food bowls, plush pet beds, pet massages, and acres of lawns and pet friendly hiking. Campgrounds are full of welcome family pets on leash.
CAR TRAVEL – A host of new products ensure the comfort and safety of your dog during car trips. Cool pads inside his carrier cool down his temperature during hot weather. Tiny sunglasses with UV protection guard against sun damage to the eyes and block dust and debris. Car harnesses protect your dog if you have to stop suddenly. For extra safety, secure them in seat-belted crates lined with their blankets. Familiar toys and bedding will help your pet feel more comfortable and at home.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG ALONE IN A CLOSED VEHICLE even with the windows cracked. The temperature inside can soar in a matter of minutes. Unattended animals inside cars are at risk of being stolen. It takes less than a minute for someone to break a window and steal your pet. Pet theft is on the rise during the pandemic. Also, it is now against the law in most jurisdictions to leave unattended animals in vehicles. You may return to your car to find your window broken and someone rescuing your pet.
If you are traveling alone with your dog and can’t find a responsible person to watch him, no one will object if you take him into a public restroom. Drive through restaurants and outdoor cafes with dog friendly seating are perfect for meal stops.
NEVER let your dog hang out an open window of a moving vehicle like Lilly in this photo!! A friend’s dog fell out of his moving car and sustained considerable injuries.
AIRLINE TRAVEL – A health certificate from your veterinarian is required for airline travel. Book your dog’s flight with you in advance as airlines limit the number of canines on board each airplane. Bring copies of shot records including rabies. Check in advance with your airline as pet requirements differ. If you have a small dog under your airline’s weight limit, it is recommended you take them in a carrier in the passenger cabin where they travel under your seat. Some groups advise against shipping your pet in the cargo area due to instances of loss, injury and even death. If you must ship an animal below cabin, book a direct flight. Your trusted veterinarian can decide if sedation will make his flight easier.
TRAIN TRAVEL – Amtrak does not allow pets other than service animals. Smaller regional rail companies are more hospitable, but call first to find out about crating and other restrictions. Some transit companies don’t allow animals during crowded rush hours. Short leashes are recommended.
A wonderful resource, “U.S and Canada Dog Travel Guide”, can be ordered online at www.dogfriendly.com. Great resources can be found on www.BringFido.com. Grab the car keys, hit the road, and double your holiday fun with Fido onboard.