When a senior dog is part of your family, it's hard to leave him behind when you go away for the holidays. And there's no reason why you need to. If your dog is accustomed to traveling with you, he can do so even into his very old age. Some advanced planning is all it takes to make your travel safer and fun.
Think twice about traveling by plane. Flying in the cargo hold can be dangerous and very stressful for older dogs, especially in cold weather. Unless he is small enough to travel with you in the passenger compartment of the plane, your dog will be better off at home. Traveling by car is easier for dogs; the safest way is in a crate. Be sure to stop frequently for potty breaks.
Make sure you pet wears an ID tag. It should include your home address and phone number, as well as your cell number. It's also a good idea to take along a record of vaccinations and veterinary records, especially if you pet takes medication or has special needs. Microchipping your dog is also recommended. This is a good way to keep your current contact information with your pet if he slips out of his collar.
Check that your destination will accept dogs. It's important to know in advance that your dog will be welcome. To see which hotels accept dogs, visit dogwise.com. This site lists only hotels with no size restrictions for dogs and includes links to pet-sitting services you can use while away from home.
Give your dog a reminder of home. Always keep something with your scent on it in your dog's carrier. A piece of your clothing can be a reassuring reminder of home sweet home.
Take along plenty of your dog's regular brand of pet food. Dogs are sensitive to sudden changes in diet. Try to keep to your dog's regular feeding schedule as much as possible.
Stay calm. Speak to him in a calm, light tone throughout the trip, and keep your movements slow and regular. Above all, try to relax and enjoy your trip. Your pooch will sense if you are having a good time and will take his cue from you.
Remember, advance preparation can mean the difference between a positive trip and a potential nightmare. To ensure the best travel experience, anticipate his needs and make safety a top priority. That way the holiday will be happy for everyone.