It’s that time of year. Yup… Minnesota WINTER… holidays and cabin fever mixed together! Before you and your family (including the canine member!) jump in the car to visit family, or maybe just find somewhere warm, we have some things for you to think about.
Are your plans finalized? Did you make a hotel reservation? Not all hotels are pet friendly. Double check to make sure that your dog is allowed. Also, familiarize yourself with their policy. Some hotels have a weight restriction, only allow 1 or 2 pets, or require the pet be crated if left unsupervised in the room. You’ll need to know this so you can pack appropriately! If they don't allow dogs, call your favorite Minnesota dog boarding facility to reserve a spot for your pup! Once your itinerary is set, make sure your vehicle is ready for the road! A good once over by your mechanic is a great idea. Also… don’t forget to check that your spare tire is in good condition!
Time to pack!
When I travel with my dogs, they get their own suitcase! Believe it or not, there’s a lot to pack when safely traveling with your dog. Yes, there are the obvious… food, meds, water (make sure you pack extra of everything!)… But then there are the “just in case” items.
Most importantly, make sure your dog has identification attached! A collar with his name (preferably written or embroidered on the collar rather than a tag), your contact info, and his rabies tag. Pack a printed photo of him along with proof of vaccines or a health certificate from your vet. Having your pup micro-chipped isn’t a bad idea either. Just in case he manages to get away… collars can slip or tear off. Microchips are under the skin and easily read by a scanner when brought to a vet clinic or authorities. You’ll have a photo to show what he looks like and proof of vaccines in case he gets in to any trouble.
In addition to making sure you have plenty of water, don’t forget a bowl to put it in! There are a lot of great collapsible water bowls available for easy travel. Pack an extra leash or two, just in case yours breaks or gets lost in the Bermuda triangle between the door and the seat! If you have a senior, small or short-haired dog, you might want to bring along a sweater or jacket for him. Oh! And don’t forget those lovely little bags to clean up his messes along the way… you don’t want to be that person!
Last, I’d recommend a first aid kit for your pup, and a clean-up kit for any unexpected sickness or accidents while you are traveling. Some common things to have in a doggie first aid kit include Neosporin, gauze pads, a roll of vet wrap, tweezers, sterile saline and Benadryl. You might also want to include some sort of paw protection like boots or Musher’s Secret. For the clean-up kit – whatever you use at home is good, assuming it won’t damage the interior of your car. Paper towels, garbage bags and disinfectant wipes or spray are three easy items to grab on the go!
Time to roll out!
Before you get in the car for a few, or several hours, make sure you exercise him!
Are you packing the crate? It might not be a bad idea. Dogs that move freely around the car can be quite the distraction, and that’s one less thing you need when dealing with winter roads and holiday drivers. If you are opposed to crating, consider a dog seat belt. Your dog can still sit comfortably, and lay down with enough slack, but won’t be able to fly into the passenger’s lap and cause a ruckus. It’s not only safer for the family in the vehicle, but also for the dog. If you are forced to an abrupt halt, a crate or dog seat belt will prevent him from flying up to the front, possibly saving his life! Wherever he is in the car, make sure he has something to keep him comfortable and entertained. Give him his favorite bed or blanket to lay on and maybe a bone or kong to chew on. Freezing a stuffed kong hours before travel will make for a long lasting treat during the ride.
Enjoying the ride…
Now that everything is packed up, and everyone is comfortable, enjoy the ride! Don’t forget to take frequent breaks. Everyone needs to stretch, including your pup! Most roadside travel centers have bathrooms, vending machines & a separate area to walk your dog and let him do his business. If your exercise break is in a snowy or icy place, and you are walking him around on the roads, don’t forget to apply Musher’s Secret beforehand to keep his paws safe from any deicing chemicals. It’s also a great time to offer him water before the car starts moving again. When you stop for meals, try not to leave your dog locked in the car for too long. Minnesota's cold weather is just as dangerous as warm weather. The air in a locked car doesn’t circulate and your dog can easily become overheated or hypothermic.
Have a great trip… and don’t forget to send us pictures!