Pet Travel: Packing For Your Dog
By Haley Thomas
Packing for your dog may seem a bit eccentric and, well, let's face it, a bit over the top, however it really can make the difference between a stressful and frustrating vacation or trip and a really enjoyable experience. Although some dogs are happy jumping in the car and heading out on the road with just their collar and a leash, most dogs are much more comfortable when they have some familiar items around them. In turn, the more comfortable and relaxed your dog is the better the trip will be for everyone. Taking a bit of time to pack your dog's travel gear is just part of being the great owner and companion to your pet you always wanted to be.
Deciding what gear your dog will need on the trip is largely a function of where you are going and what you are planning to do when you get there. Of course you will need the basic leash and collar or harness, but you may also want to consider some additional items such as a retractable leash or an extra long leash or lunge line to allow your pet to exercise and roam a bit while still staying under control. Remember you are going to be in an unfamiliar place and even the best behaved and trained dog may get the urge to explore, developing selective hearing regarding your increasingly frantic calls to return. A retractable leash for smaller to medium sized dogs is great option to allow space and freedom while still having control of the dog. For larger, heavier and stronger breeds a horse lunge line is an inexpensive option for a long leash plus they come in a wide assortment of colors and patterns.
If you have a short haired breed or a small dog and you are taking a winter holiday to enjoy the snowy weather, packing some dog sweaters and even dog booties may be important to protect your pet from the cold. This is especially important if your dog is used to being indoors most of the time or if you live in a year round warm climate. If you want to stay conservative there are lots of basic sweaters and heavier dog shirts and sweat suits available at pet store or online. For those that have more of a fashion flair, specialty dog boutiques and online stores offer endless outdoor gear options.
A small, well equipped first aid kit for your dog is very important. Your vet may sell pre-packaged pet first aid kits that will typically include bandages, gauze, disinfectant, antibacterial spray, tweezers, scissors as well as any medication that your pet is currently taking. If your pet is on medications be sure you have enough to provide the medication as per the prescription for the duration of your trip.
Treats and toys should also be included in your pet packing project and although you don't need to bring all the favorite toys a few of your dog's top toys should be brought on the trip. It is always a good idea to pack treats in several zip lock or sealed bags or containers so that you can easily grab a small bag to take on a walk or just to hand out a few treats throughout the day. If your dog has a specialty food that is difficult to find always pack enough for the trip if at all possible. If the dog eats a readily available commercial brand it is still a good idea to bring enough for a couple of meals, just in case you have difficulty in getting to a store during business hours.
A great way to pack your doggy gear is in a backpack that is lightweight, waterproof and easy to carry. Some dog carriers and crates also have cubby holes and spaces for packing, which is terrific if space saving is important.