Road trip tips for traveling with your dog

Consumer Reports News: August 30, 2007 09:53 AM

For millions of dog owners, family vacations often begin after a trip to the boarding kennel. With proper planning, preparation, and training, however, your dog can enjoy getaways by car with the entire family. There are countless hotels, parks, recreation spots, and even amusement parks across the country that welcome pets. And kids often enjoy having the family dog along for companionship and entertainment.

Below are some tips to help keep your canine friend happy, health, and safe on a road trip.

  • To reduce your dog's anxiety (and chance of destructive chewing) while on the road, give him an appropriate chew toy. There are a number of hollow rubber or plastic toys available that are perfect for stuffing with treats to keep your dog entertained.
  • Although a dog may love to have the wind in his face, an animal can suffer eye damage and even vision loss from road debris and insects.
  • Be aware of the temperature where the animal is positioned. If necessary, open a window or adjust the air conditioning to prevent overheating and/or dehydration. Direct sun might adversely affect dark-colored dogs, particularly in the summer, even when the car is moving and the air is cooler. You may need to install sunshades on the side windows.
  • Don't leave the dog in the car if you will be away from it for a while. Cars can heat up fast when left in the sun. If you're going to an amusement park, zoo, or other place where your dog is unwelcome, try to find a nearby kennel to board the dog while you're occupied. Always have the dog's rabies and other vaccination records with you so that you can show them to the kennel staff. Plan ahead, though, because many kennels are booked in advance for the summer. And if you plan to spend many days where the dog can't visit, consider leaving the dog in a kennel closer to home.
  • When you're traveling put a piece of tape on the dog's tags with a local phone number or cell-phone number in case the dog gets loose. Your home number won't be much help to someone who finds the dog while you're traveling.
  • If shopping for a new vehicle, inquire about available pet travel aids. Some carmakers might offer customized accessories for owners who travel with their pets.

For more information, read "Vacation travel for dogs."

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