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Readers’ pet travel tips: Road trips and plane flights

For Dog Jaunt’s last giveaway, I asked people to enter by leaving a comment with a pet travel tip. After years of getting (and posting) e-mails from you guys with your reports from the road, I knew that you have ideas I’ve never thought of — and sure enough, the giveaway entries were splendid. They’re there in the comments, but they’ll get lost, so I’m posting them here, where I can tag them, and where other readers can easily find them.

I love them all, but I was particularly intrigued by the two that encouraged people to use sound to calm their dogs. I’ve been thinking about Through a Dog’s Ear music since I first heard about it at a BlogPaws conference a couple of years ago, but couldn’t figure out how to deliver the music to Chloe on a plane.

Road trip tips

“We bring a favorite toy, his blanket, and freeze dried raw food with us. I also stash food in the car which has come in handy a couple of times to lure stray dogs.” (April)

A multi-part tip from Catie:

“Clean up: [W]et wipes are a necessity. They can clean anything. Don’t forget dog poop bags, either. It’s important to clean up after our dogs.

Water: After trying several other options, we bought a shallow cat-sized stainless steel dish for Cosmo’s water. Not only does it easily fit in my purse, it holds just the right amount of water for a small dog on the go. We give Cosmo bottled water when we travel. The smaller water dish cuts down on wasting that blasted expensive stuff.

Plastic food storage bowls: By this, I am talking about anything from Tupperware to Gladware. The bowls usually seal well enough to keep out water and/or moisture as well as insects. So not only does it protect the dog food from being ruined, it saves in packing space. Unless we are going to be gone a month, there is no way Cosmo needs an entire bag of dog food.

Masking tape or pet hair roller: This makes for quick removal of dog hair from car seats, clothes, or hotel furniture. Even though we pay extra for Cosmo to stay there, I like to leave hotel rooms as clean as possible.”

A tip from Seattle Amy, listing the contents of her car kit: “I am rarely without the following things because I have needed them and didn’t have them. Extremely painful to not have these when when I needed them!!

1. Paper towels, plastic bags (big enough to put a dog bed in), wet wipes (think vomit all over the back seat of the car after an afternoon of sneaking goose poop behind my back).
2. Bonine — poor foster dog with a MAJOR case of car sickness. I felt SOOO bad for him.
3. Largish unopened bottle of water & small bowl (never know when you’ll get stuck in traffic)
4. Extra leash, extra collar, extra tag with my phone number (never know when I’ll lose a leash, dog will chew through it, break a collar, find a stray dog, etc) as well as a long line (one of my dogs will go off hunting for HOURS if given the chance).
5. Cable ties — for when crates crack, break, dogs are more powerful than expected and an emergency fix is needed.
6. Immodium AD — I have a dog that gets super excited which stimulates their bowels…and you can imagine what happens. 1/2 a pill for a dog between 10-20 pounds can make life WAY easier.
7. Benadryl — my dogs love to chase flies. Benadryl can help keep swelling/reaction down if they happen to catch something other than a fly.
8. Acepromozine — I have a prescription from my vet. If my dogs get hurt, bit, pull a muscle, etc., I will use this to keep them calm until I can get back home or to my vet.
9. Antibiotics — with terriers you never can tell when “discussions” go a bit too far. So I’ve got these at the ready if there is ever a wound that breaks skin.
10. Pain med/anti-inflamatory — for accidents, hurt, ripped toe nails, etc..
11. Muzzle — I have one that just lives in my car. I’ve used it for a stray that was hurt. I’ve used it to get a foster dog in the car that wasn’t having any of it and was super stressed. I err on the side of caution to ensure no bites (which can lead to the dog being put down depending on the situation).
12. Polar fleece blanket — for those days when I didn’t realize it would be as cold as it turned out to be, I need it to cover a crate, I need it for winter driving, etc.
13. Largish bottle of water — usually unopened
14. Blister band aids (for humans)
15. Anti-biotic/cleaner spray (2-4 oz)

This list might look like a lot, but it all condenses down into a very small foot print. All these fit in a very small bag that also includes treats (dehydrated variety that won’t spoil in the the car), toys, clickers, poop bags and a few tennis balls. I go through and swap out old medication about once every 2 years.”

Tips for airplane travel

“When Nutmeg and I travel, I always pack an empty water bottle in my bag so I can fill it at a water fountain after I get through security so she can have a little drink. She also gets a quiet stuffed toy that she loves to help calm her nerves.” (Avery)

“Because loud noises can happen in airports, or we can be seated above the airplane wheels, anything can cause a small dog to become nervous. I do not like to give drugs to her in order to calm her, so I’ve come up with a routine to combat nerves and make Kara has confident as possible when traveling. First, I try and make sure we are not seated near the airplane wheels. Second, I take out Kara’s travel bag a week before our the departure date. I situate the bag as a new piece of furniture, and every time she goes inside of it – she is treated. She becomes familiar with the bag, and sits it in for hours. I will then carry her out in the bag and treat her. When the departure day comes, Kara’s confidence is very high and she looks to her travel bag as a place of safety! I can tell the difference in her travel comfort when I do this with her.” (Kristina #1)

“We always bring a Kong for mid-flight boredom and pieces of carrot and cucumber for hydrating Button. We try to time the cucumber treats so that it’s near the end of the flight in case it makes his bladder too full.” (Kristina #2)

“Bloopers [is] still a 8-month old puppy with tons of energy so whenever we fly, I tire him out before we head out to airport. I either take him on a long run or to the dog park so by the time he’s in his carrier, he’s pooped! I also always carry an extra bowl for his food and water. (He still eats 3 times a day so I’m likely to be on the road when it’s his feeding time!)” (Kina)(Kelly #1 had similar advice: “It always helps our girls if we take them for a nice long walk before we travel.”)

“I like to attach my iPod in a pocket I added to the outside of a mesh panel and play a combination of soothing music and recordings of me talking or reading just about anything. It seems to soothe her to hear my voice and there is enough ambient noise that no one else is aware of it.” (Twylla)

“I always put a collar on my dog that doesn’t have metal in it so she can wear it through the metal detector at the security checkpoints. Her regular collar is leather with a metal buckle and metal tags, but for air travel, I bought a cheap nylon collar from the dollar store and clipped off the metal D ring. The buckle is plastic. You can also use a piece of elastic (sized to fit your pet comfortably), a scrunchie, bandana, piece of twine, etc. I write her name, my cell phone number, airline, flight number, and time of departure just in case she gets loose and runs away. Sometimes I even use the luggage tag they have available at the check-in counters. In case your pet gets away, it can really expedite the return of your animal. The TSA agent or helpful passerby that catch your runaway pet will be able to figure out where it needs to go right away if the information can be found on your animal. I think we all know how fast and far a scared dog or cat can run in a short period of time! Better safe than sorry :)” (Iris)

“I second traveling with an empty water bottle, even if you are not traveling with a dog. You can fill it at a drinking fountain post security and always have water when you need it. I have a collapsible silicon bowl that clips to my dog’s carrier so giving him a drink is easy. I put a small towel in his carrier. It takes little room and adds some extra cushiness. You never know when your dog may get muddy and need a rinse and to be toweled dry.” (Joan)

“I always ask the flight attendants for ice to cool my dog down (he gets warm in the carrier) as well as hydrate him.” (Julie)

“iTunes has (at least) two tracks that can help desensitize dogs to airplane sounds before a trip: One is on an album called Calm Pet and the other on an album called Sounds for Hounds. The albums have other useful sounds as well.” (Chelsea)

All-purpose travel tips

“When Bella and I travel I always make sure to carry disposible baby wipes with me just in case she has an accident I can freshen her up. I also always put a piece of an old t-shirt of mine in her kennel with her…it has my scent on it and it seems to calm her.” (Bonnie)(two other entrants, Ju and Susan, had similar advice)

“When Dante and I travel, I make sure to pack his own little first aid kit. It includes a few extra day’s worth of his regular supplements but also pain meds, topical antibiotic and medicine for ear infections. I hate to be on the road and he start to come down with something and not be able to begin treatment until I come back home.” (Kelli)

“My dog has a condition called CM and he is taking his meds several times a day and also his supplements. It can be complicated since some has to be taken at least 1 hour before others. So I use human pill dispenser/reminder and fill it up for 7 days. One less thing to worry during travel.” (Catherine)

“I travel with my three tiny toy poodles often and never leave home without Bach’s Rescue Remedy. A tiny bit rubbed into the tips of the ears , on the nose or feet works wonders to calm them right down and we do not have to use any chemicals or meds to comfort them!” (Toni)

“We haven’t been to the beach with our dog yet, but someone suggested bringing Doggles so sand doesn’t get in his eyes.” (April)

“The hustle and bustle of subways and public transportation can be overwhelming to dogs, so I conditioned Chuy by always carrying around small treats with me. Everytime we got on the subway, treat. Every time the train geared up and the noise was loud, another treat. When he’s calm and laying down in his carrier on the train, I give him treats to reinforce his relaxed, good behavior. I’ve gotten many comments from fellow train riders that he’s a better behaved passenger than most PEOPLE.” (Kelly #2)

“Get your dog to drink lots of water on the day before and hours before travel. Offering peanut butter treats can speed this process. My dog often refuses to drink water during travel — I don’t know if its the stress or what. Having him adequately hydrated BEFORE leaving deters dehydration.” (Sarah Louise)

“We travel quite often with our pets, and Comfort Zone spray is a MUST have for our high strung little doxies. They do not like to be in public while crated and this spray (applied to crates 15 mins before putting pets in them) really helped.” (Kate)