Thinking of taking your fur baby on a vacation or extended road trip with you? Being on the road with Holly Elizabeth has made me realize it can be the most fun thing in the world to take your best friend everywhere you go – but it’s also not without its stress. So often, I see people toting around their dogs like they are accessories – and not realizing, or not paying attention to, the fact that dogs are pack animals, that value a strong leader, and also have needs and wants of their own.
Although I’ve obviously mentioned Holly Elizabeth several times on this blog and my YouTube channel, I’m not sure I’ve ever told you guys a lot about her! She’s a lab mix (mixed with what, no vet has ever been sure, the current guess is lab mixed with ridgeback), she’ll be approximately six years old in January, and she has liver disease. Because of her liver issues, she takes five pills a day, and needs to stay on a fairly regimented food schedule. She was also likely abused prior to my adoption of her, and therefore is very skittish and nervous (although much less so than when I adopted her five years ago).
Having a puppy with specific needs like that means I have to take even more care to make sure she’s comfy and happy when we’re traveling! Below are a few tips I’ve learned that can help the next time you are thinking of taking your fur baby on vacation with you!
1. Get a thorough vet check-up before you depart.
Before I headed out for this long adventure, I went to see my doctor and got some blood work to make sure all was well. It’s the same for puppy! Before you take an animal on a trip with you, make sure they get thoroughly checked out by their vet to ensure they are healthy, happy, and nothing is amiss. Holly had her own blood work done to check her liver values before we left, as well as a physical to make sure she was in top puppy shape. If your pet is unhealthy or sick in any way, it is not a good idea to force them to travel, so make sure everything is A-okay before you leave.
2. Don’t go anywhere – ANYWHERE – without water and a travel bowl.
Holly and I are currently driving through the States, so we have the luxury of always having water and a pop-up travel bowl (this is our fave). Even when we go abroad, though, I am bringing two extra collapsible water bottles (and these are my favorite) to carry in my backpack, and I plan to always have her bowls on me. Hydration is immensely important for dogs, especially in unfamiliar or hot environments, so make sure you never, ever, ever leave your house without plenty of water for your pup, as well as a good travel bowl.
3. Bring a favorite puppy toy (or blanket or other familiar item).
Holly has a monkey toy that’s old and raggedy (and completely disgusting!) that she’s had since almost the day I adopted her. That monkey toy came with us from New York, moved to my parents house, then moved to Orlando, and now, is on the road with us. Holly has had several toys over the years, but the monkey always seemed to be her favorite – so, I brought it on our journey. Dogs, just like people, value familiarity to some extent and it can be rough for them if they are thrown into a totally new environment with nothing they know except you. Make some space in your bag for at least one item that’ll give your pup some comfort.
4. Always have their collar and ID tag on.
When Holly and I had our own apartment, I would put her collar with her tags on when we went outside, but let her walk around free from it when we were inside. Not on the road, however – now, Holly wears her collar and tags everywhere. Since the environments and situations are unfamiliar to both her and I, I’m never quite sure who we are going to meet or where we are going to be. I’d rather be safe than sorry (despite the fact that I’m a helicopter parent and watch her like a hawk!) so I always make sure she has her collar, tags with pertinent vaccinations, and identifying and contact information for me on her.
5. Travel with a puppy-friendly first aid kit.
We know that it’s a good idea to travel with a person-friendly first aid kit, but did you know there are extra things you can put it in to make sure you are safe with puppy? For example, hydrogen peroxide is often given to dogs in small doses when they swallow something toxic to get them to throw up. I’ve had to use it in a few situations with not only Holly, but with other dogs (like when one of my ex’s dogs ate several tablespoons of ground coffee out of the trash can!). It’s good to have with you in a pinch to make sure puppy stays healthy!
All in all, I would definitely recommend traveling with your fur baby – especially if you decide to do an extended trip or a big life change like Holly and I. It’s important to make sure you have all the tools for your fur baby to stay happy and healthy and comfy – and if you do, you’ll both enjoy the ride!