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Traveling with Your Small Dog

fluffy white dog peaking head out of dog carrier

In a survey by one pet-travel website, 78% of vacationing dog owners have booked rooms in pet-friendly hotels. Trends like these have made the hospitality industry take notice, and more travel destinations today welcome dogs.

Before you head out with your dog in tow, take a look at these smart ways to keep your small pooch safe and happy—no matter how you travel.

7 tips for a smoother trip

1. Tag him: If your dog gets lost in an unfamiliar place it can be disastrous. Be sure his collar is secure, and that your address and phone number appear clearly on his tags. Also affix your cell phone number to the tags with strong tape. Carrying a current photo of him is a good idea, too. It is also strongly recommended that you have your vet insert microchip tracking devices under your dog's skin.

2. Pack his papers: Ask your vet for a health certificate that provides proof of updated shots. Some lodging destinations and all boarding locations require it. Vets can also prescribe mild sedatives if your dog gets car sick, or feels nervous on an airplane or boat.

3. Take a long walk before you go: A recently exercised dog will be in a more relaxed state for the trip, and is more likely to sleep.

4. Limit food before takeoff: Don't feed your dog for at least six hours before plane travel. Some people recommend eight or even a full 24 hours. Please consult with your veterinarian for his or her recommended fasting time, as small dogs—especially those under 10 lbs.—can develop low blood sugar if not fed for a long period. Do, however, make sure your dog has access to water.

5. Flying in the main cabin with you: Please note that reservations are needed if your small dog is flying in the cabin with you or not—and not all airlines accept dogs. Reservation guidelines and costs vary among airlines, so check the details. In addition, a health certificate may be required by the airline. These are the general crate requirements for flying with your dog: Ample bedding for absorption and enough room for the dog to stand and turn around comfortably.

6. Carry his comforts: If possible, bring your dog's bedding, bowl, regular food, and favorite toys with you.

7. Take a break: On a long car ride, stop every two or three hours during the day for your dog to take a bathroom break, have a drink of water, exercise, and experience the new environment. Frequent stops are also recommended at night.

Finally, before planning your trip, check out for a comprehensive listing of hotels and campgrounds, restaurants, and theme parks across the country that will treat your small dog like a top dog.

  • When Should You Switch Your Senior Dog to Soft Food?

    smiling lab sitting in front of brick wall

    As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.

    When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.

    two dogs eating from two bowls

    Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food

    If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.

    fluffy brown dog yawning showing teeth

    Teeth Sensitivity

    As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.

    However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.

    Digestion Aid

    Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.

    Hydration Help

    It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.

    girl kissing older dog on the head

    Slower Metabolism

    Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.

    Picky Eaters

    While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!

    Whether you choose dry food, soft food  or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.

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