How to Travel With Your Senior Dog

July 15, 2019

When your dog was young, bringing her with you on the family vacation may have been a no-brainer, and not just for the many health benefits they provide humans like the ones featured in this article. Eager young dogs often look forward to the prospects of making new friends and checking out new smells that travel adventures bring.

However, now that she is older, your senior dog may be less enthused by spending hours in the car and sleeping in unfamiliar places. Here’s some advice on caring for your senior dog while traveling, helping ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for all.

Would Leaving Your Dog at Home be Less Stressful?

Traveling can be extremely stressful for our canine companions. While some dogs acclimate well to new places, others can become overwhelmed with the strange people, smells, and sounds. This is particularly true for some of our senior canine friends who may have lost some of their zeal for adventure, preferring long naps and the comforts of home.

It may be time to consider the value of a professional pet sitter who can care for your dog at home. While your absence will still be felt, it may be much less stressful for your dog in the end. When possible, plan well in advance and hire the pet sitter to come for several visits prior to your vacation. This way, your old friend will have a familiar face to calm and sooth her while you are away on travel.

older dog at home

Source: baxtertatt/Pixabay

Booking Pet Friendly Accommodations

If you plan on staying at a hotel on your journey, be sure to verify the pet policies before you book a room. Don’t trust the website – call and talk to someone at the hotel to learn more about their pet policies and accommodations.

There may be special restrictions, such as weight limits or crate requirements, that might be a deal breaker. Finding out on arrival can create a major headache on your trip.

If you have an older dog, be sure that you secure a room on the first floor, preferably close to the designated doggy potty zone. This way you can avoid using stairs, a big benefit for achy aging dogs.

Smooth and Safe Car Rides

It is important to consider car safety when traveling with any pet. Did you know that if your dog is in the front seat and the airbags are deployed it can be fatal? The best way to enjoy your travel mate’s company is to either provide them with a sturdy dog kennel or use a special travel dog harness designed to integrate with the safety belts in the back seat.

Another consideration to make with senior dogs is to make sure they can get in and out of the car easily. This is particularly true for dogs suffering from arthritis or other degenerative conditions that can affect mobility. While your pup may have been able to jump in and out of the hatchback with ease, it may be time to give her a helping hand.

One solution may be the use of a small ramp. You can purchase lightweight folding ramps for this exact purpose. Or, you can easily make one with some plywood and some non-skid tape, although it will probably be a little bulkier so be sure you will have room to pack it.

Another consideration when planning long trips in the car is car sickness. It is advisable to avoid feeding your dog prior to car rides to avoid vomiting on the road. In addition, discuss your upcoming trip with your vet who may prescribe some medication to help with motion sickness. These medications usually come with the benefit of having a slight sedative effect which allows your dog to relax and nap as you tick off the miles to your destination.

dog in car

Source: StockSnap/Pixabay

Create a Comfortable Resting Nook

One of the most important things you can do to make a trip more pleasurable for your older pooch is to bring several items that will carry the familiar scent of home. Her blanket and favorite toys can bring a sense of normalcy to a new environment.

If your senior dog has mobility issues, such as sore and achy joints, the stress of travel can make them even worse. If you notice that your dog is more tired and less interested in long walks while you are vacationing, this is normal.

It may be wise to consider supportive bedding, to ensure she has the joint support she needs for rejuvenating naps once you reach your destination. While they can be bulky to pack, these extra firm mattresses offer maximum comfort to your aging companion. They can go a long way to creating a safe and comfortable spot for your furry friend to enjoy her vacation to the upmost.

Maintain a Routine

Another way to provide comfort and security to your senior canine during travel is to stick as closely to your normal routine as possible. This means feeding the same food, treats, and keeping to a familiar schedule.

When you are making plans to enjoy activities such as shopping, antiquing, or sightseeing, think through your dog’s needs as you build your itinerary. By incorporating her into your planning, you can ensure her needs for food, companionship, and potty breaks will be met.

dog walking on beach

Source: Trapezemike/Pixabay

Senior Dog Packing List

To make sure your travel goes off without a hitch, there are a few special packing considerations to take into account. Here is a quick packing checklist to make sure you have all of your bases covered:

Identification Tags: In the event that you get separated from your dog, be sure his collar has an identification tag that includes your up-to-date mobile phone number.

Rabies Tags/Certificates: State laws vary when it comes to regulations surrounding rabies vaccines. Be sure that you have documentation that your pooch is up to date with vaccines just in case. Ideally, an up to date rabies tag will be on her collar at all times.

Veterinary Information: Always keep the name and phone number of your veterinarian handy. If your dog needs emergency veterinary care while away from home, the vet may need to request records from your home office in order to give the best treatment.

Medications: If your senior dog has medications, be sure they are packed before you leave the house. In addition, keep a list of the types and dosing information to share with a vet in the event of an emergency.

Author Bio: Sharon Elber is a professional writer and received her M.S. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and has worked as a professional dog trainer for over 10 years.

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