Going on a road trip with an old dog can be a happy, relaxing experience for you and your pooch. By “road trip” we really mean on the road; by car. We’d never encourage you to put your dog in the cargo bin of a plane…especially an old dog. But a road trip? It can be a blast for both of you. The folks at PassingThru.com offer great tips about traveling with a pet, based on their own personal experience.
How to have a fun road trip with an old dog:
Make a familiar, comfortable place in the vehicle. We’re using Daisy’s bed from home in the back seat of the car, which can go into the hotel room with her at the end of the driving day.
We recommend investing in a roll-up perforated window shade like you would have for a baby’s carseat area. Invariably, as the sun travels through the sky on longer driving days, it will quickly bake passengers on the dog’s side of the car.
Several of our friends have recommended some sort of restraining/seatbelt system for her, but we have yet to purchase one. I admit the thought of a car accident injuring the dog is distressing, but I also know that it would be hard for her to rest comfortably, too, depending upon the system we’d select. Without her sight, she wouldn’t be able to tell what we were doing by restraining her.
Daisy’s tote bag has her leash, nail clippers (nails grow fast on an older dog who doesn’t get as much exercise), travel dishes with lids, brush, water bottle and treats. Keeping your dog’s stuff in one place might seem like an obvious tip, but it has saved us time and frustration, so it’s a good reminder. I also brought along a lint roller to remove dog hair from the car seats and clothing.
Leaving pets unattended is risky. Daisy’s personality is so relaxed that she can be left alone while we go out for a meal or take in an attraction. However, in the extreme heat, we can’t leave her in the car in the sun, even for a minute. Instead, we seek a shaded parking spot and leave the windows open. We also have the option to shield the sunroof, which can make a 5 to 10 degree difference in the car’s temperature. Only you know what your dog’s personality is like; if they will be anxious while you are gone, figure out what your alternatives are rather than inconvenience other guests or hotel staff.
Know your pet’s potty routines and signals. Away from home can impact potty routines. Keeping feeding schedules and the pet’s food consistent with home goes a long way toward predictability. Even so, you need to be flexible. Take the opportunity to offer water at every potty stop to keep your dog properly hydrated, and take advantage of places like rest areas and gas stations to let the dog potty. Plastic bags for poop disposal come on easy to dispense rolls and should be tucked into your purse or in a leash attachment.
General health issues. Daisy is vision- and hearing-impaired, but otherwise her health is generally good. Her vaccinations are up to date and a PDF copy of her immunization record is on my computer in case of emergency needs. Smartphones will locate the nearest clinic in case you need one, too. We look after the dog as we would a small child. Read more about Daisy’s trip here.
And, if you have an old dog with diabetes, be sure you have his meds AND a bottle of white corn syrup and a syringe without a needle on it. CanineDiabetes.org recommends:
A large syringe is helpful in administering corn syrup to your pet. You can find these at large animal and livestock supply stores (maybe even at your veterinarians office). Storage of the syrup in the syringe may cause the syringe to stick and not work properly. Keep the syringe attached to the corn syrup bottle with a rubber band and pour the syrup in when it is necessary. This method makes it easier to control the amount of syrup given, as well as enabling you to squirt it into the cheek pouch instead of trying to spoon or pour it in. The syrup does not have to be swallowed.
For more tips on how to have a fuss-free road trip with an old dog, click here. And if you have any of your own ideas on pet-friendly traveling that work, please share them with us in the comments section below.