Gr8LakesCamper: Holiday Roads and Traveling with Fido

November 22, 2010 by Gr8LakesCamper · 6 Comments  
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Tiny, a 7-pound poodle, peers out the RV door between the legs of one of six Great Danes she lives with in the RV with their owners, John and Sharon Butts of Burlington, Pa. (Associated Press)

Tiny, a 7-pound poodle, peers out the RV door between the legs of one of six Great Danes she lives with in the RV with their owners, John and Sharon Butts of Burlington, Pa. (Associated Press)

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go. No doubt, millions will trek to the abodes of family and friends as the holiday season approaches.

Just how many are traveling with Fido this holiday season? In a recent survey of more than 7,000 pet owners worldwide, discovered that 63 percent of pet owners say they travel at least 50 miles with their pets during the holidays.

From a safety perspective, unrestrained pets in autos are responsible for more than 30,000 accidents every year according to the ASPCA.

FIDO Friendly magazine shares a ‘Holiday Road Warrior Survival Guide’ as we take to the highways and byways for holiday gatherings with family and “fur-ends.”

This Thanksgiving were visiting my brother and his family in New Jersey, but we’re leaving our dog, Chewie, behind.

That said, we nearly always bring Chewie with us on our camping trips. And, as more and more of us RVers also travel with our pets, some of the following advice is of good use for us as well. Many of these are simple common sense, but as we all know — and one of my earlier posts about world’s worst campers Elvis and Ozzie illustrated all too well — we have all camped next to people who either lack common sense or the initiative to use it.

Vaccination Records
Keep a copy of all vaccination records. Should an emergency arise once you are on the road, you will have the important information you need. You will also need these records should you ever need to board Fido for the day or overnight if you take in an excursion where your furry companion is not allowed.

Collar and Leash
Remember that taking Fido out of the car for potty breaks must include his collar being secured and him being leashed (don’t forget the poop bags). A foreign territory brings unique smells that are oh so hard to resist, and your little darling can escape before you can say, “Sit, stay.”

With the lives of you and Fido on the line, FIDO Friendly magazine urges us to consider a safety harness for our dogs when traveling. The back seat is the safest place for Fido to avoid air bag deployment in the event of an accident. Acclimate Fido to the harness by allowing him to wear the harness around the house for a few minutes at a time. Graduate to short car trips in the area. Work into longer trips and never scold Fido in the process. He’s getting used to it just as you are. If he could thank you for saving his life, right now he is.

Things to look for in a good safety harness? Strong webbing such as nylon, strong stitching, allow the pet to sit and stand comfortably, and comfort combined with reliability if an accident occurs.

Fido won’t want to get lost, so be sure that he has a current tag with an emergency phone number firmly attached to his collar or harness. Most people travel with a cell phone, making this the perfect number for your dog’s tag.

First Aid Kit
There are a number of dog-specific first aid kits on the market, and if you have the time, you can even put together your own. Some essentials to include are:
• Tweezers to remove ticks
• Styptic powder to stop toenail bleeding
• Eye wash to flush wounds
• Gauze bandage
• Adhesive tape
• Scissors
• Antiseptic moist wipes

Food and Water
Be sure to bring along Fido’s favorite food so as not to upset his stomach. There are great roadworthy foods and treats on the market. If you will be cooking for Fido, make the food ahead of time, and pack it along with your own goodies. Your dog is used to drinking water from your hometown, and when traveling it’s a good idea to bring along as much of Fido’s drinking water as you can, and rely on bottled water as back-up. Nothing puts the damper on holiday spirits or caming trip like an emergency visit to the vet.

Seat Covers and Blankets
We’ve all been there; a camping trip when it rained and our dog’s paws got muddy. Or Fido ran into the lake with the kids, or chased a fish in the stream… you get the picture. Protect your seats with covers and blankets made especially for your type of automobile. Be proactive: Always carry additional towels and wipes to clean off your rambunctious Rover when visiting with family and friends.

Beds and Crate
Don’t leave home without Fido’s favorite blankie or bed. You don’t want him sleeping on the guest bed — or do you? Bring sheets, too, so if your furry companion is accustomed to sleeping on the furniture, he won’t leave any tell-tale signs. If Fido calls his crate his den, then bring it along for a good night sleep during your Thanksgiving trip.

Fun Stuff
Don’t forget the toys! If Fido is a nervous Nelly when away from home, help ease his discomfort by bringing as many toys from home as you can. Familiar smells and chew toys will help calm even the most anxious pet. If Rocky is a Rachmaninoff aficionado, by all means pack his favorite CD for his and your listening pleasure. For the record, Chewie prefers Jimmy Buffett.

Double-Check Hotel Reservations
You are ready to go—but before you back the mini-van out of the driveway, call your hotel to confirm your reservation and that they are expecting Fido. Nothing says bummer like a newly implemented “no pets allowed” policy since you made your reservation.

From the personal blog: I continue to post many items that would make for great getaways during the holidays and winter months, including all that Southern Indiana has to offer, and a great opportunity for women to learn outdoors skills in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during a February DNR clinic.

Gr8LakesCamper celebrates the world of RV Camping in the Midwest. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook and the personal blog.

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6 Responses to “Gr8LakesCamper: Holiday Roads and Traveling with Fido”

  1. Bob and Julie on November 22nd, 2010 5:35 pm

    Never remove ticks with tweezers. It leaves the head embedded in the skin. Rather, heat the head of a straight pin and touch the back of the tick. This causes the tick to dislodge itself. Then you can grab it with your tweezers, I guess.

    Bob and Julie
    A great article, by the way.

  2. Pat Malone on November 22nd, 2010 6:03 pm

    We use a short tether attached to a dinette seat seatbelt. Works great in our motor home – It loops around the seatbelt and attaches with a leash-type clip to his harness. It took very little time for him to get accustomed to it. Works so well, we bought one for the family car!


  3. Bill on November 22nd, 2010 7:17 pm

    All good pointers on traveling with a pet, including the part about restraining your pet in the vehicle. Since this is an RV site I expected more information about restraining your pet in your RV as you travel. I’m sure that an unrestrained pet is just as dangerous in a big Class A as it is in the family car.

  4. Thomas and Ruby on November 22nd, 2010 8:44 pm

    We have enjoyed RV camping since 1968. Since 98% of our trips are two weeks or less we have elected to place our dogs in the care of a local vet. during our trip time. They have good care. Gives the clinic the opportunity to bring their charts up to date. It provides opportunities to go places and make personal visits without having to leave the dogs alone in the RV. A barking dog in a neighboring RV can become a pain.

  5. Liz Bard on November 23rd, 2010 12:36 am

    We traveled last year with one of our catsand boarded the other 3. She is a good traveler whenever we traveled in the car to move or to go to the vet. She got out once when we were at a campsite. She got scared when she saw the woods and ran under the RV. A neighboring RVer saw where she ran as we were calling and looking for her. She was sitting on the front axle. We coaxed her out with can cat food. She was wearing a harness with a tag with our cell number and my sister’s cell number. It was hard to see her under the RV since she is black. We had a leash for her for going out to sit in our laps. She had been good about letting us put it on her, but this time she didn’t. That one scare made her wait for the leash and be carried out by hand.

    We had a small carrier for her, but we were missing a drawer and she preferred being in the drawer or on the bed. When we were in camp or sightseeing, she liked being in the front window looking out at the world. We plan to bring her with us next year and have someone stay with the other cats at home.

    With a cat, don’t forget to bring a scratching post, otherwise they will use the carpet or maybe the furniture. We forgot one, but got one within 24 hours.

  6. Gr8LakesCamper on November 23rd, 2010 2:34 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone.
    @Bob and Julie: I’ve heard it both ways from credible sources, but our vet says not to do it with tweezers. Best bet is preventive medicine (Revolution, etc.)
    @Bill: Most Class A owners I know who travel with their pet don’t harness them down. I just had a good friend lose his puppy after the dog jumped out of their moving car to chase a squirrel. After that, I would error on the side of caution no matter what I was driving.
    I dropped our dog off at the kennel earlier today (winced as he howled and whimpered due to “separation anxiety”) and now we’re packing for our trip. Visiting family in NYC area, and going to try and brave the crowd (3 million) and weather (cold and rainy forecast) and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.