The holidays are officially here, and you know what that means! Yes, travel (even if it’s just to grandma’s house). My travels always include keeping our furriest family member in tow, because, well, he is my true companion. Unlike others in our close-knit family, Omar never disagrees with my television show selections, insults my comfortable pajama pants or rolls his eyes when I hear about that leaky bathroom faucet for the three-hundredth time. Yes, he is a wonderful sidekick, but taking him on the road has (occasionally) resulted in quite a few learning curves.
Curious about whether you should take Fido to the local boarders or bring him on board? Here are a few tried and true pointers (learned the hard way):
- Vacation Vet: Not long ago, my newlywed wife and I were celebrating our honeymoon through Northern Idaho on the way to Glacier National Park. Wouldn’t you know when we stepped out for a fresh breath of air, poor Omar sliced his paw open (and not just a little). I rushed him back to the car only to realize that I had no idea how to proceed from there. We were in the middle of a two-lane rural highway without any knowledge of nearby towns or cities. We pulled into a gas station and were directed to one of the cleanest and most efficient vet hospitals I’ve ever been to. Omar was cleaned, stitched and back on the road in less than an hour and we were taught a very important lesson; plan ahead! Look online for veterinarians along your route and at your final destination. Additionally, bringing along a copy of your pet’s medical records can be extremely helpful in answering any questions an unfamiliar vet may have.
- Double-Check Your Accommodations: Make sure that your vacation destination does indeed take pets, some people might attempt a sneakier route but I don’t even mess around. Omar is a part of our family and I prefer walking him comfortably to stuffing him in a suitcase and insisting on his absolute silence at night (he’s definitely fond of bark-protecting us from lights, noises, shadows and whatever canine hallucinations vex him). More and more, rental cabins, RV parks, campsites, and hotels are willing to allow your pet to stay (sometimes for extra deposit money to cover any cleaning/mishaps during your stay). To me, it is worth a little extra change.
- Identification: Make sure that your pet’s identification tags have your cellphone number and a home address. If I ever get separated from Omar, I want to make sure that somebody can get in touch with me immediately. I’m also a huge fan of having a GPS chip implanted in your pets, so that if they are picked up by the pound, they can be able to trace your pet back to you. If you don’t want to go this route, there are external GPS options as well, which I highly encourage when you are traveling with your pet to unfamiliar territories.
- Research the flora and fauna in your destination area: Sometimes local spots can wreak havoc on our furry friends. There are plenty of sites that can give you the full scoop about upcoming flea and tick season, something to consider when on that afternoon nature hike. Also, check out the local vegetation for anything that could be poisonous or if there has been a recent rash of rabies in the local wildlife.
- Whatever the weather: We are all well aware that protecting ourselves from the elements is essential. Proper layers for when it’s cold, plenty of water when it’s hot, and plenty of quality sunscreen year-round. When you’re taking your fur-baby along on your trip, keep the weather in mind for them as well. There is doggy sunscreen, a plethora of fashionable pet sweaters, and an endless supply of portable water dishes for our 4-legged friends.
At the end of the day, we want to enjoy our travels, and if we are fortunate enough to be able to bring our family friend along, then it can just make our vacation even more enjoyable.