Heather Loenser, DVM, knows first-hand the joys and challenges of traveling with her dog. She and her family recently adopted a year-old Border collie named Calvin.
"As a new dog in our house, Calvin is experiencing some separation anxiety, so we don't want to board him or leave him with a pet sitter," Dr. Loenser explained. "Even though he suffers from car sickness, when the family goes on vacation, Calvin comes with us."
Dr. Loenser is often called upon to help her clients prepare for vacations with their dogs. Her top five travel tips are:
1. Consider Car Safety
When it comes to car trips, practice safety first. In some states, it is illegal for dogs to ride unrestrained in a vehicle. The Center for Pet Safety tests vehicle restraints for dogs; their recommendations can be found at www.centerforpetsafety.org.
2. Be a Considerate Guest
Whether at a pet-friendly hotel or at the in-laws' house, not everyone will love your dog as much as you do. Make sure your dog is well-groomed and don't forget canine etiquette. A quick refresher course in the basics commands: sit, down, stay, quiet and come will help make your dog welcome wherever you go.
3. Take First Aid on the Road
Accidents happen; be prepared with a mobile app offered by the American Red Cross. It contains veterinary advice for everyday emergencies, interactive features and a locator for American Animal Hospital Association-accredited hospitals across the nation. Download the app at: http://www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/pet-first-aid-app.
4. Avoid Dietary Changes
Stay as close to your dog's regular feeding schedule as possible and avoid giving extra treats or different types of foods that may upset their stomach. Dr. Loenser suggests giving regular meals in a food dispensing toy, which will also help use up some stored energy from the trip.
5. Consult Your Veterinarian
One of the main reasons dogs get left behind is, like Calvin, they suffer from motion sickness. "My clients often try over-the-counter remedies first," Dr. Loenser said. "However, OTC products are not very effective and have a sedative effect that can be unpleasant for the dog."
"I prescribe an FDA approved medication for dogs called CERENIA(r) (maropitant citrate) to prevent vomiting due to motion sickness in my canine clients 16 weeks and older - and Calvin." Dr. Loenser knows it is safe and effective because it's the medicine she uses every day to prevent and treat other causes of vomiting in her patients. She advises dog owners to talk to their veterinarians who can help find a solution for their dogs' car sickness.
"When you think about it, taking your dog along on vacation can be less expensive than paying for a kennel or dog sitter. That leaves more to spend on fun activities to enjoy with your dog."