Top Dog Tips - Traveling With Your Dog for ThanksgivingWill you be taking a Thanksgiving road trip with your pooch this year? If you caught my column last week, you know that I discussed Bringing A Dog to Thanksgiving Dinner. Taking Fido with you may not be the best idea, but if you’ve decided that bringing your pet to Thanksgiving is the best option, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when traveling with him.

Thanksgiving is a very common time for traveling. There are more cars on the road and more people in airports and train stations than most other times of the year. In order to make your Thanksgiving trip go as smoothly as possible, you’ll have to plan ahead. The most important thing to consider is whether your dog is up for the trip.

Especially for senior dogs, very young puppies and dogs with disabilities, it is important to make sure they are up for a long journey. The best thing to do is have your dog cleared for travel by your veterinarian.

Your vet will consider your dog’s temperament, any signs of illness and any physical impairments that he may have when making a decision. Not all dogs are suited for travel. If your dog is cleared for the trip, you can begin planning your Thanksgiving adventure.

Traveling With Your Dog for Thanksgiving

dog celebrating thanksgiving

No matter what mode of transportation you’re taking when traveling with your dog for Thanksgiving, there are some precautions that you should take to ensure his safety. Fido is going to need an up-to-date set of dog ID tags for your trip.

Your dog will be in airports, train stations or taking breaks at multiple rest areas along the highway. Not to mention, when you get where you’re going he will be in a strange place.

RELATED: Five Best Dog Travel Crates for Long Trips

Every form of travel is busier during the holiday season, and this paired with all the new places your dog will be visiting will greatly increase his chances of getting lost or stolen. ID tags can save you a lot of trouble in the event that your dog does turn up missing.

You may also want to talk to your vet about having your pet microchipped before your trip. If someone were to steal your dog, you can register his microchip with lost dog registries and hope that he turns up at a veterinary office or shelter that scans for microchips.

Speaking of your veterinarian, it’s wise to bring a copy of your dog’s health records with you any time you travel. This is especially important if your dog has any health issues. In the event of an emergency while you’re away, it would be much easier for another vet to treat your dog if she knew his medical history.

If your pet has a chronic condition that takes a turn for the worse while you’re out of town, having a copy of your dog’s medical records on hand could save his life.

feed your dog before travelFeed your dog no less than six hours before you leave, and give him water no less than two hours before leaving. This way you can hopefully prevent him from getting sick in his crate or in your vehicle. You’ll need to make sure that your dog has water available if your trip is going to take longer than a couple of hours.

You can purchase travel bowls that go inside crates, and if you’re taking a road trip you can stop every couple of hours to let your dog have a small drink. Unless your trip is going to take more than 12 hours, your pet should be okay without food during the trip.

You should bring a couple of small snacks for him though. A small doggy treat at the beginning of your journey and a couple in the middle should sustain him until you reach your final destination.

No matter how you’re traveling it is imperative that you never leave your dog unattended.

You should always keep your pet’s crate with you in an airport or train station, and if you’re traveling by car your dog should not be left in the vehicle by himself. If you must leave him in the car during a stop, make sure the temperature outside is not too warm or too cold and leave the windows cracked about 1 inch each.

RELATED: Reducing Risk – How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Car

Traveling by car with a dog brings about its own set of challenges. Your dog will need to be secured in the car in some way. Whether you choose to put in him in a travel crate, keep him in the back seat with a pet barrier or restrain him with a harness in a special dog car seat, you must be sure that your dog isn’t roaming free around your car while you’re on the road.

dogs traveling in a carThe days surrounding Thanksgiving are some of the busiest days on the road reported by the Department of Transportation. That means that they are also the days where the most accidents occur. Some of these accidents are caused by dogs. While roaming loose in the car canines distract the driver, bump the steering wheel or adjust the gear shift by accident.

The only way to keep your pet from causing an accident is to make sure that he is secured safely. If there is an accident, your pet will become a dangerous projectile if not fastened properly. Think of the damage that a 50 pound dog could do if his body was hurtling towards you during a crash.

Not all trips are taken by car, of course. If you’re traveling by plane or train, you’ll need to check all airline and railway requirements before planning a trip. You’ll need an approved carrier and they may require you to report to the customer service desk earlier than normal to have your pet checked in.

Remember that the days before and after Thanksgiving are some of the busiest travel days of the year. Plan to be extra early just in case the lines are long.

No matter how you’re traveling with your dog for Thanksgiving, there is a good possibility that you’ll be using a pet carrier at some point during your trip. If this carrier is new to your dog, make sure he has enough time to get used to it before the trip.

Leave it out so he can smell it and climb into it if he wants. If he won’t climb in on his own, start by placing him in the dog carrier and locking it for short intervals. Work your way up until he can relax comfortably in the carrier for an hour or more.

dog and person traveling in a carLots of extra people traveling means there are lots of extra chances for accidents. The only way to keep your pet safe and prevent him from becoming lost or stolen is to plan your trip in advance. Traveling with your dog for Thanksgiving can be fun for both of you as long as you take the necessary precautions, and the host you’ll be staying with has an open door dog policy.

You should always ask before bringing your dog into someone else’s home. Even if it’s someone you know and someone that knows your dog, Thanksgiving may not be the best time for furry visitors.

Make a plan in advance and bring all the supplies your dog will need. This way you won’t have to make any unnecessary runs to the store and your pet won’t be an inconvenience to your host. Enjoy your tip and have a great Thanksgiving!