Planning a journey with your dog

© Wocjech Gadj/Fotolia

If you would like your dog to accompany you as often as possible, it is wise to accustom your dog to outings at an early age. You should also check that you are allowed to take the dog to the places you are planning to visit. Below are some practical tips to help you avoid unpleasant surprises.

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Before you pack your bags

Before taking your dog on a trip, you should always check out the principal diseases that your dog may encounter in the geographical zone or country to which you are travelling in order to begin appropriate preventative care where necessary.

- At least one month prior to your departure, check that all vaccinations are up to date and if not, take the dog to the vet for boosters. In addition to the standard vaccinations (canine distemper, parvovirus, leptospirosis, infectious canine hepatitis and rabies), in certain countries it is also possible to immunize the dog against babesiosis (piroplasmosis), a disease transmitted by certain ticks, where travel to endemic destinations is planned. Topical products may be used to help to reduce infestations from ticks and other external parasites. If the dog is not used to rocky terrain, take him for frequent walks beforehand on hard surfaces to help toughen up his pads.

- At least two weeks before: worm the dog and prepare an emergency medical kit. If travelling abroad, ask your vet to prepare a certificate of good health where needed and make sure that you have a canine passport with the dog’s identification and the dates of all obligatory vaccinations. The regulations vary from one country to the next, and it is important to check with the embassy of the destination country (or on their website) to obtain the list of requirements and necessary documents for crossing the border. Also ensure you fulfil all necessary requirements to return your dog to your home country.

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When dealing with hot weather in countries such as Cyprus the following should be taken into consideration.

The kennels must always be covered, with double insulation material and trees planted around. During the hottest hours spray the area with water or provide small swimming pools. Cutting the hair on some breeds may be required. Provide exercise only early in the morning. Feed late at night and reduce the amount of food, as the caloric need is decreased. Overweight dogs can suffer more. Be extra careful with brachycephalic breeds or breeds that have a double coat!

Remember that prevention is better than treatment, forgetting the dog in the sun can be fatal...

© Loizou

Elisa Loizou
Breeder in Cyprus

The day of departure

Give the dog a light meal approximately ten hours before departure. To limit the risk of vomiting, do not give the dog anything to eat during the trip, unless the journey lasts more than twelve hours.

Gather all of the equipment needed to care for the dog during your visit: water and food bowls, bedding and a brush (and/or comb).

If the dog becomes sick or anxious easily, give a travel sickness tablet or a sedative as prescribed by your vet. This will prevent the dog from becoming agitated.

Walk the dog prior to departure. Bring enough plastic bags and paper to clean up any mess when stopping at rest areas while travelling.

Food during the trip

There is no need to add extra stress to the dog by changing his diet. If the diet must be changed, try and introduce any changes gradually at least three weeks before departure.

While away, maintain the same meal times and frequency as normal. The dog may refuse to eat at the beginning of the trip. Do not worry too much and do not ‘give in’ by offering treats to whet its appetite, because this will lead to persistent begging. The quantity of food can be adjusted to the dog’s activity levels. Make sure you offer water frequently in hot conditions.

Dogs and hotels

At hotels, basic good manners imply a few simple rules of behaviour:

- inform the hotel manager of the presence of the dog when making reservations (some hotels do not accept dogs);

- do not leave the dog alone in the room and walk it at least three times per day;

- keep the dog on a leash while inside the hotel;

- prevent it from barking;

- show respect for the furniture: set up a sleeping area for the dog somewhere other than the bed or sofa.

Such rules of good behaviour also apply in camp sites.

Dogs and restaurants

Many restaurants do not accept dogs, however if your dog is accompanying you, it is best to feed it before going out to eat so that it will not beg at the table.

Dogs and cars

© Bertys30/Fotolia

Car travel should not pose a problem if the dog has been accustomed to riding in cars from a very young age.

However, to prevent any problems (such as restlessness, agitation, barking, vomiting, etc.) do not forget:

- don’t feed the dog within at least three hours of the trip, but do offer water. If your dog tends to be travel sick, ask your vet to prescribe a treatment or even a sedative.

- don’t allow the dog to stick its head out of the window as this may cause irritation of the eyes or ears.

During long trips, it is advisable to stop every two hours to allow the dog to stretch its legs and relieve itself if necessary.

Warning! Never leave the dog in a locked vehicle parked in the sun as this puts it at serious risk from heat stroke (the temperature inside a car may reach as high as 70°C) (150°F). Finally, in the event of a car accident, treatment for any wounds suffered by the animal should be covered by the insurance of the driver who is at fault.

Long distance trips require maximum security. The ideal place for the dog is in the boot with a dog guard in place and the parcel shelf removed. If this is not possible, the dog may travel on the back seat if a pet seat belt harness is used or a well-secured cage.

Putting a dog in a covered boot is forbidden, because of the risk of asphyxiation from fumes. In all cases, ventilation openings must be adapted to meet safety standards.

Dogs and trains

Train journeys do not normally cause any great problems for dogs, but the regulations vary from one country to the next and between train operators. It is therefore advisable to ask about the rules before taking the train. In some countries, dogs are not allowed in the passenger carriages, and must therefore be placed in a cage in a separate freight carriage on the same train.

Dogs in aeroplanes

To ensure that the dog travels comfortably without stress or sickness, follow these guidelines:

- do not feed the dog within ten hours of departure;

- where necessary administer a travel sickness treatment thirty minutes before boarding, or even a sedative prescribed by a vet for dogs which experience extreme anxiety;

- take it for a walk to relieve itself before putting it into its travel crate.

Before travelling on a plane with your dog you will need to contact the airline at the time of booking:

- some airlines refuse to accept dogs.

- others accept them under certain conditions.

- in some cases, small dogs (usually under 6kg) are allowed to travel in a bag in the cabin with their owners.

In boats

© Duhayer/Royal Canin
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International law forbids pets from boarding cruise ships.

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For all those contemplating a cruise, the main concern of cruise companies is to provide you with the largest array of fun and entertainment possible on board. However, you will have to forget about taking a “tour of the world” with your dog. International law forbids pets from boarding cruise ships.

On ferries, when the journey is relatively long, owners should be aware of the other vehicles parked around their car on the vehicle decks if their dog is spending the crossing in the car. The presence on board of refrigerated vans can be very dangerous for dogs as the refrigeration systems emit a large quantity of carbon monoxide and could result in serious poisoning for dogs in the surrounding cars. On some longer crossings, kennelling is provided for dogs.

Public transport

Dogs are widely “tolerated” on public transport in the majority of countries. The same rules apply: the dog must be kept on a leash, muzzled where required (certain countries) and the appropriate ticket bought. Dogs may only ride in taxis if the driver agrees.

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Whatever type of transport is used, certain rules must always be followed:

- Make sure that the ambient temperature is not too high and if necessary provide ventilation or wet the dog’s head with a moist cloth; special cooling mats are available; heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires emergency veterinary treatment.

- Make frequent rest stops and get the dog to drink regularly, at least every two hours in very hot conditions.

© Duhayer/Royal Canin

In parks and gardens

In many countries, dogs are not allowed in public gardens for health and safety reasons.

Some parks allow dogs both on and off the lead.

Dogs are not normally allowed in nature reserves or some national parks, even on a leash. They are allowed on some beaches if they are on a leash, provided that the owner cleans up and throws away any excrement the dog may leave and that the dog does not bother anyone: no inappropriate digging in the sand, no pushing over swimmers, etc. Many beaches ban dogs during the summer months.

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Dogs are allowed on some beaches if they are on a leash, provided that the owner cleans up and throws away any excrement the dog may leave and that the dog doesn’t bother anyone.

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Guide dogs for disabled people are an exception to the aforementioned rules. They are allowed to guide their owner everywhere.

Boarding Kennels

There are many types of boarding kennels depending on the number of dogs kept, whether inside the house or in kennels. It is important to visit the establishment first to be sure that it is licensed, clean and has pleasant surroundings.

Dogs adjust very well to kennel life even if they have not previously experienced it. The owner should not feel guilty if the dog whines when he or she leaves.

Whatever solution is chosen, the owner of the establishment should be informed of any health problems. The dog’s vaccination card must be left and should include the vet’s telephone number. It is also a good idea to provide information about the dog’s diet and habits in order to avoid needless disturbances; the owner can also provide the dog’s usual food to be fed during its stay.

Some of the dog’s personal objects can also be left (bowls, blanket, toys, etc.). If the dog experiences marked separation anxiety, discuss the situation with the vet several weeks beforehand who will provide advice about what to do and an action programme so that the owner may leave the dog under good conditions.

Assistance and insurance

Some international insurance companies guarantee the repatriation of the animal in the event of a problem affecting its owners. In this case it is advisable to provide the address and telephone number of a friend or family member who can be contacted in such an event.

If you lose your dog during your trip, contact the nearest police station as soon as possible.

Finally, to avoid any problems if you lose your pet’s paperwork, make photocopies of all the documents before you leave. If there is a problem, simply contact the vet who vaccinated the animal so that they can send a copy of the certificate, and inform the police to obtain a certificate of loss or theft. The health certificate required for crossing the border can be obtained from the nearest vet in the country that you are visiting.

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Planning a journey with your dog
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