Traveling With Pets
December 31, 2013

Traveling With Pets

This winter break, my boyfriend and I have been traveling the western United States to spend the holidays with friends and family. We recently rescued a German Shepherd puppy, and this trip was our first bringing her along with us. At only 20 weeks old, I must admit that I was a tad concerned about traveling with her, so I just made sure to be prepared. How do you prepare for traveling with a pet, especially a puppy? Well, that is what this blog article is all about.

First steps first, be sure that your pet is up-to-date on her shots and yearly exams before you leave. Get an official document with your vet’s signature just in case you need it for boarding or other reasons. Keep this with you at all times. You never know when you might need documentation.

Right then, now onto the other necessities. We like to have a bag just for our pup. We each have our own bag, so why not provide one for our traveling pet? In the bag, we have a container with enough food for her, plus a couple of days. Traveling is weird for dogs; they do not always eat as regularly or as much while other days they eat lots. It is important to be prepared for both. If your dog does not eat per regular, do not worry. She will eat when she is hungry. I promise. We also have a travel dog bowl. It is collapsable and can even be used as a water bowl if we needed it. Click here for a similar type of bowl to the one we use.

In addition to the food bowl, I also bring a stainless steel water bowl. I use an old mixing bowl I found at a garage sale. I have also used the stainless steel bowl for food. When I have done this, I brought two different sizes so that they fit together to take up less space. Whether you choose to use collapsible bowls or stainless steel ones or one of each (as I have done this trip), saving room is key. After all, a vehicle only has so much room.

In addition to food and bowls, we keep dog treats, leashes both for walking and for tying up at campgrounds, dog brushes, and puppy pads. Since our new girl is still a puppy, we are still potty training her, so we brought her puppy pads just in case. We have not had to use them as of yet, but it is good to have in her bag just in case.

We also brought her crate. We lined it with an outdoor mat so that she would not slide around too much and then a fluffy crate pad for comfort. This has made traveling with a puppy so much easier. She feels safe because it is her home, and we know that she is not really getting into any trouble. We also put her chew toys, a kong toy, and her stuffies in the crate with her. This way she has her home with comfy bedding and her toys.

Okay, so now we have what we brought for her, it is important to think about the travels. With a puppy, we have to pull over about every four hours or so. Puppies can only wait to use the bathroom for about one hour per a month they are old. So, at 20 weeks, my puppy can make it about five hours or so. She has been really good about letting us know when she really needs to go if we have not stopped as regularly as she needs. We also give her water each bathroom break we make. Keeping a traveling pet hydrated is of the utmost importance. We must consider the comfort and health of our traveling pet as well.

Finally, if you are going to see friends and family whether for the holidays or just for vacation, make sure that it is all right to bring your pet. If not for whatever reason, then find a local place to board your pet. Moreover, as you travel, consider research what motels and hotels are pet friendly. The Best Western, Motel 6, and Travelodge are all affordable places that usually allow pets. Also, local, family-owned motels tend to be pet friendly as well. Often, the latter are the most affordable if you are traveling on a budget.

Traveling with a pet is an incredible experience. You bond and experience new places as well as spend cuddly time together. But it is only good if you plan and organize for the pet as well.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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