Dogs are the perfect companions for anyone at any age for many reasons. The company of a dog can help anyone cope with loneliness and also ease depression. Dogs can also provide people with a sense of purpose and structure. While you are feeding or caring for a pet, you are also doing something productive. And the love and devotion that they provide you is priceless, no matter how old they are. That said, if you like to travel, there are no reasons that you cannot bring your senior dog. Here are some tips for traveling with an older dog.
If you are a senior, a pet friendly senior living facility is one of the options that can help you stay connected with the present and a senior dog will be easier to handle. They are adopted far less than puppies, so consider adopting one if you do not have one already.
The Needs of Older Dogs
When is does a dog enter senior ranks? For small dogs, this can happen at the age of 7 and for larger dogs, they generally reach their peak at 6 years of age. This can vary according to breed, the amount of injuries a dog experiences and other breed or health predispositions that a dog may have.
Traveling with an older dog requires planning, care and attention. Most older dogs have passed the high intensity stage and are slower and more subdued which makes them great travelers. However, senior dogs can also be more anxious due to previous experiences, strong bonds or simply because it is typical of their breed. For these personality types, it is crucial that you acclimate your pet to travel. More information on acclimation to pet travel can be found here.
As dogs age, they can develop physical problems such as:
- Joint problems
- Loss of eyesight
- Loss of hearing
- Dementia (Canine Cognitive Disfunction)
- Gastrointestinal and/or kidney problems
- Heart problems
Many of these ailments require medication at regular intervals and other attention that owners must plan for when traveling. Obesity can cause breathing issues as well. Try to get your pet in the best shape possible before travel.
Do Research & Plan Ahead
Formulating a plan to address any disabilities that your pet may have with your veterinarian is the first step in traveling with an older dog.
If your dog is flying in the cargo hold, you will provide the airlines with instructions on the medical needs of your pet on a Shipping Declaration which is attached to your pet’s crate. The airlines will do what they can to attend to your pet while on the ground; however, once in the air, they will be unable to dispense any medication.
If you are driving, set an alarm on your cell phone to remind you of any medication or procedure that your pet will require while on the road. Remember that, unless your dog can hear well and is trained properly, never let them out of the car unless they are securely leashed.
Most importantly, find veterinary hospitals along your route and at your destination. Have contact information available so you can access it quickly in the case of an emergency.
If your dog is not a regular traveler, it is best to plan short trips before embarking on longer endeavors. Trips to the park, pet store, friend’s house nearby are happy experiences that your pet will remember next time you say, “its time to go!” Then make the trips a bit longer. Each time you give your pet an experience, it will draw on that experience the next time you travel.
Travelling with dogs may be a bit challenging because they are your responsibilities. This is why you have to be organized. Make lists to be sure you bring everything you need when traveling with an older dog. This is also one way for you to make sure that you have brought all the things that you need. Better to be prepared than spend time on the phone with your vet getting a prescription filled when you are out of town.
You should pack extra medical supplies and pee pads especially when you know that your pet needs it. Being organized means you can locate all the things that you need for your dog whenever you need them. Consider packing a separate bag or backpack just for your pet.
Pack Medications Separately
If you and your pet are taking medications , you should make sure that you pack your meds in a separate location. That way, you will not be confused when you look for the bottle that you need. It may seem like a very simple issue but when you are travelling, things may become a bit complicated. This is especially true if you are getting all your things from one suitcase.
Bring Familiar Things
Your pet may also feel anxious during the trip because of the unfamiliar surroundings. Should this occur, think of ways to make them feel comfortable even outside their comfort zone. One way to do this is to bring some familiar things that will let them feel like they are still in a place that is safe. If your dog sleeps with a blanket, bring it. You can also bring their favorite toy. And treats; don’f forget the treats. After all, every dog should be rewarded for good behavior.
Plan to spend extra time with them once you stop for the night or reach your destination. Walk them slowly around the surroundings and give them the opportunity to discover new smells and get grounded.
Make Necessary Arrangements for Pet Care
Pet care should be regular and, even if you are not in your hometown, you should not skip it. When traveling, you need to consider arranging this before your trip. By doing this, you do not have to be spending time driving around looking for a pet care center as opposed to enjoying your vacation.
Consider Pet Friendly Destinations
ad to say, there are hotels and businesses that do not allow pets. This is the major consideration that you must keep in mind if you are going to travel with your dog. You may be comfortable knowing that you will be able to get some perks for seniors, but don’t forget about your pet. Checking all the places you are planning to visit and asking about pet policies will save you from unnecessary expenses and unhappy experiences.
You should always request for a ground floor room whenever you go to a pet friendly hotel. This way, it would be more convenient for you and your senior pet to get outside quickly, and it would also limit exposure to other dogs.
Plan Laid Back Trips
When traveling with an older dog, it may not be a good idea to plan a trip where the focus will be strenuous activities like long hikes, bicycling or theme parks. Depending on your dog’s health, a pet friendly beach or small town where you can casually stroll down village lanes and enjoy coffee at street side cafes may be a better option. Remember that you can also enjoy your non-pet-friendly activity as long as you provide care for your pet while you are gone on your excursions.
Splurge on a Pet Friendly Jet Charter
If you plan to fly with your dog, it is important to know as a pet owner is how commercial airlines deal with live animals. For pets flying in the cargo hold, dogs and other animals are confined to a special area that is pressurized and temperature controlled. However, if you have a senior dog, you may want to consider some other options.
If your dog is small, you can fly with it in the cabin in an airline-compliant pet carrier. You can discuss sedation with your vet or opt for an all-natural pet calmer if you feel that your dog will be overly stressed when flying.
Because your pet may have disabilities or medical requirements, it may be a bit difficult for you and your pet to fly on a commercial airline, This is why a private charter is safer and more comfortable for you both. With a pet-friendly jet charter, you do not have to worry about your pet flying in the cargo hold. They can fly right next to you or on your lap for that matter. When flying in a private jet, you and your pet can enjoy the amenities and the special treatment that comes with it. And, with your pet by your side, you can monitor their well being.
Traveling with an older dog is fun and challenging at the same time. Being well prepared will go a long way in enjoying each day with your dog. Always consider that your pets should also be comfortable while you go on vacation with them. This will save you from unnecessary stress and worry while you are trying to relax somewhere away from home.
Contributing to this article is Holly Kramer, a pet lover who owns a dog and loves to write about everything related to pets. She is a frequent writer and contributor to top online pet publications and blogs including Dog Breeds 911 and Pet Friendly Senior Living.