Helpful Tips When Hitting the Road This Summer With Your Dog

By Lisa R. Mele

The summer season increases outdoor and travel activity with you and your pet dog. Below are some tips and advise from professionals and experienced pet owners who have traveled with their pets safely and successfully on vacations.

Nancy Talleno, a canine behaviorist, Pet Reporter for KYW News Radio 1060, and owner of Peace in the Pack, recommends this when taking your dog on the road, “All dogs regardless of size, age or breed should be in a car restraint harness that acts as a doggie seat belt in the back seat of the car.” Talleno explains, “This will give your pet a sense of safety and stability. Never let your dog roam freely in a car; it can be fatal in an accident even at a low-level speed.”

Talleno advises, “Never leave your pet unattended in the car, even when the windows are cracked open. Your car heats up quickly and it can cause your dog rapid heat exhaustion, heatstroke or even death.” Talleno adds, “Always stop frequently for fresh water breaks and make periodic stops to allow time for your dog to relieve itself.”

Some states have laws that require pets to be buckled up, and if the driver of the vehicle is pulled over, the driver could face fines up to one thousand dollars and possibly be charged with animal cruelty. Every state is different so make sure you know the law in each state that you travel to before risking a possible fine.

If your destination is the shore, mountains or any outdoor activity, ask your veterinarian if your dog needs suntan lotion and if so, what brand to purchase to avoid sunburn.

It is important to make sure your dog is protected from Lyme disease. One major pet chain recommends using a high-quality flea and tick spray or collar. Make sure to ask your veterinarian first which product would be a better choice for your pet’s protection; some top brands have been known to cause irritations. Always check your dog at the end of the day for ticks and make sure you bring a pair of tweezers just in case.

Once you have reached your destination, make sure the hotel that you and your dog are staying at is pet-friendly. It is always best to check the hotel’s specific pet policy or call them directly before booking your room. Find out how many dogs are allowed to stay in one room and the dog weight limit. Some hotels do not charge extra fees for pets and other hotels charge pet fees as high as one hundred dollars per night.

A few summers ago, long time pet owner Christine Ensign and her family traveled with their dog to Niagara Falls. The Ensign family stayed at a major hotel chain that offered a pet-sitting service, which included walking their dog several times a day while Christine and her family could enjoy sightseeing! Ensign adds in her own words, “It’s better to stay at the end of a hallway near an exit for easy access in and out of the hotel. I avoid staying near elevators, so my dog doesn’t hear noises all night long.” Ensign adds, “We always bring our dog’s favorite things like her bed, her toys, treats, and I always pack a new toy to keep her entertained and busy. This helps to keep her calm so she doesn’t feel like she’s in a completely new environment.”

Many hotels to do not allow your pet to be left unattended in a room and if you do leave for an extended period of time it is best to let the front desk know in case housekeeping needs to go into the room to clean.

If planning a vacation or day trip to a state park or campground, know the rules before taking your dog. Most state parks ask that the dog be on a leash no longer than six feet. There could be certain areas of the park or campground that are restricted from dogs. You may also be asked to show proof of your dog’s rabies vaccinations and your dog’s license.

Remember these are just some suggestions for safe and fun travel with your dog. The rules and laws may change from state to state and from destination to destination.

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Lisa R. Mele holds current fitness certifications for Mat Pilates and as a Personal Fitness Trainer with AAAI/ISMA. She is also a licensed Zumba® Instructor for LA Fitness and Future Fitness Centers in South Jersey. Since 2011, Lisa has been a featured PhillyFIT Workout-a-thon Instructor and in 2012 became the stage manager for the Workout-a-thon event. Lisa has won numerous instructor awards for her unique and easy to follow style. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys spending family time with her three children and husband. She also enjoys writing fitness and other related articles for PhillyFIT Magazine! Her references for this article: “Dogs: The Ultimate Care Guide” edited by Matthew Hoffman, www.petswelcome.com, and pet-friendly-hotels.net.

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