Traveling with Your Dog – Blog #2…What to pack for your pack!
If you read our first blog on Traveling with your dog, you know that finding a pet friendly hotel (Fido Friendly and Bring Fido are great resources, and a ‘pet friendly’ search on Trip Advisor is an excellent option too!) and checking hotel policies – in advance – is an important first step. We also recommend making arrangements upon arrival with the hotel’s housekeeping team as to how you would like your stay to be handled (daily service? limited service? service at specific times of day?).
Now that you’ve made the necessary hotel arrangements, it’s time to pack!
We highly recommend making a check list…
FOOD, WATER & MEDS
FOOD – Pack enough food for your pet for the entire time you will be traveling, plus a day extra – just in case. Try not to change your feeding habits, keep everything (amount, time, etc.) the same as if you were at home. If you have travel bowls, bring those. If not, bring the bowls you use at home. Some hotels offer bowls in pet friendly rooms, but depending on the length of your drive, you may need to bring a water bowl for the road anyway.
Don’t forget treats. We all know your pet is well behaved – of course they deserve treats! But pets can also be anxious when traveling – rewarding them with their favorite treat is a welcome way to calm them down. If your dog tends to be an anxious in general, your vet may recommend a sedative for the trip. There are also some companies, such as Pet Naturals of Vermont, who make ‘calming treats’ which can be used as a supplemental treat during your trip to sooth those rattled nerves. However we don’t recommend making many changes to your dog’s diet, as we don’t want to cause an upset stomach.
Be sure to (label &) pack all food & treats in a secure place so that your dog cannot get to it (and don’t forget your measuring scoop (or pack food pre-portioned)). If your dog is adept at finding food ‘wherever it is’ you may consider leaving the food in the car rather than bringing it into the hotel room (if outside temps will allow). Otherwise, an upper shelf in a closet in the room is a good place to hide it (as long as your pooch isn’t one to attempt a ‘break-in’).
If your dog’s food requires refrigeration, inquire ahead with the hotel to see if your room has a mini fridge. If not, don’t forget to pack a small cooler. If you’re traveling in Vermont in colder months, it may be cool enough to keep your dog’s food in the car….but keep an eye on the forecast in case it gets ‘too’ cold.
WATER – Bring a bottle of water for the road trip depending on how many hours you will be in the car – and keep that water bowl handy (don’t pack it deep in the luggage) so that it’s easily accessible. Be sure to let your dog out of the car to ‘take care of business’ after they’ve had water.
Once in the room, placing your dog’s water and food bowl in the bathroom is usually a good idea, as the floor is likely tile and will be easier to clean if there are any spills. Don’t forget to leave the bathroom door open so your pup has access to his water. And if your pup is a toilet bowl drinker…if the toilet doesn’t have a cover, place a towel or piece of luggage over the seat to block access. Stay dialed-in to your dog’s behavior so that you know when they are thirsty…or when they need to go outside.
MEDS – If your pup is on medication, be sure to pack enough for the trip in well labeled containers including all dosage information, plus pack at least one extra day’s worth. If you can bring the prescription bottles, that can be helpful if you encounter any concerns during your trip and need to check dosage or any other related information. If your dog is on meds, this is another reason to check the area around your hotel for the nearest 24-hour veterinarian (as we suggest for all trips in blog #1). Be sure to pack these meds in a safe place so that they don’t get lost, and your pet does not have access to them. Don’t forget pill pockets if you need those for administering meds!
NOTE: if you do forget your pill pockets, of course you can pick them up at any pet store, but in a bind, if your pup likes fruit (such as bananas) or cheese, grab some from your hotel or the local corner store and tuck the pills right inside (string cheese is the perfect shape for most pills!)
BRING EXTRA SHEETS, BLANKETS, TOWELS
If your pup has a habit of hopping up on couches & chairs, pack some sheets to cover furniture in the room. Pack an extra towel or two as well. Keep one handy in the car in case you encounter rain during your drive. Nothing is worse than a wet dog in the car! And be sure to have an extra towel for your hotel room (for wiping your pup’s paws upon entry, or cleaning up messy spills around the water bowl). If you use puppy wetnaps for your dog, don’t forget those too!
BEDS & CRATES
Some hotels offer complimentary dog beds and not having to pack their bed in the car is a great space saver! (And not having to schlep a dog bed around has its perks too!). You may want to pack a favorite blanket to place on top of the hotel’s dog bed if your dog is finnicky, so that it’s more familiar to them.
If your dog is crate trained, soft travel crates are wonderful and don’t take up much room in the car…but some hotels also offer crates (and as you saw in Traveling with your dog Blog #1, some hotels require them).
Of course…we all know that many of us allow our dog to sleep ‘in’ the bed with us. If this is the case with your dog, we recommend bringing an extra sheet to put on the bed. We don’t recommend letting your dog hop up on furniture or beds if you haven’t taken the extra steps to protect them. In a pinch, if you ask your hotel, they may have an extra sheet or two to let you borrow.
TOYS & ‘STUFF’
TOYS – Don’t forget to pack your pup’s favorite toys. If your car trip is long, be sure they have access to a toy in the car. Keeping them stimulated during your trip is a must – especially in your hotel room. Even the most well behaved dog can feel anxious in a new setting…having a favorite toy nearby offers a sense of comfort and distraction (so they don’t start chewing on, or scratching at, things in the room). Always follow the usage instructions for dog toys (including not leaving your dog with a chew-toy unattended).
POO BAGS!!! – These are a MUST. Most pet friendly hotels will offer them on premise, but definitely bring a good supply of bags to pick up after your pooch, while on the road, at your hotel and for sight-seeing during your vacation.
‘& STUFF’ – Don’t forget your leashes & collars (having your dog’s id on these is critical in case he gets lost. If they don’t have your cell # on them, grab a sharpie and add it).
If it’s winter and your pup wears a sweater or booties…don’t forget to pack them. If it’s summer and your pup needs a cooling mattress…don’t forget that either.
If your pup is a breed that sheds a lot, don’t forget your brush. Hopefully you can find a good place outside to remove some of the excess hair if your stay is several days long (and if you happen to have a small hand-held vacuum or lint rollers, they will definitely come in handy. If shedding is a major issue, you can always ask your hotel to come in for extra vacuuming during your stay. This will benefit to you ‘and’ the hotel as it will make clean-up after your check out more effective and efficient).
Finally…don’t forget your pup! When packing your car, be sure to leave enough room for your pup to stretch out and be comfortable. If you’re putting seats down, check for ‘gaps’ between sections (these can be dangerous for your dog if their leg gets caught). If possible, be sure to keep windows partially open so that your pup has enough fresh air. This may seem like a lot of things to pack and be mindful of…but it will make the trip more enjoyable for everyone. It will also save you having to purchase items on the road that you are stocked up on at home…
We certainly hope you enjoy traveling with your pup! In our next ‘Traveling with your pup’ blog we’ll make suggestions on fun activities while on vacation.