When someone says ‘retirement’, many of us will picture a life filled with travel to the places that we’ve always wanted to visit. As long as you’re healthy, there’s no reason not to get out and enjoy all that life has to offer. Right? Well, it’s the same for our dogs! If you’ve ever considered traveling with a senior dog, this article is for you.
Many canines love spending their retirement years just like we humans do, enjoying their days on the road with their family members. If your dog is in good health and enjoys getting out and about, his senior years can be a time of active fun and excitement.
Traveling with an elderly dog, as with any dog, involves pre-trip planning to keep your dog comfortable and safe.
Check Out These 6 Tips for Traveling with a Senior Dog
Have A Conversation with Your Vet
Your first stop when planning a long trip with your senior dog should be your veterinarian’s office. This will give you a chance to check in and find out if there are any special preparations that are needed before your adventure.
This includes checking that your dog is up to date on vaccinations as well as other possible medications or preventatives, depending on the destination. Double-check with your veterinarian for any special instructions on administering and storing medications during travel, if necessary.
While you’re there, request a copy of your dog’s immunization records and medical information to carry with you on the trip. In the event that something happens, and you do have to seek medical attention somewhere along the way, this information will allow the veterinarian that you visit to best treat your dog.
Make sure to be clear about your travel plans when talking to your veterinarian. There are different medical concerns to consider when taking a road trip with a senior dog versus flying with a senior dog.
Bring the Comforts of Home
You can make your trip a little more comfortable for your dog by bringing along some of their favorite comforts from home.
New experiences and locations can be stressful or overwhelming if there’s nothing familiar to hold onto. Including your dog’s blanket and a familiar toy or two in your packing will help to make any place that you stop feel cozy. Who doesn’t want to take their favorite teddy along on the road?
Another important comfort of home to consider is a cushioned dog bed. A memory foam or orthopedic bed will help your dog sleep anywhere you go by taking the pressure off their joints. This is especially important for the older dogs that may be struggling with conditions that come with aging, like arthritis.
Take Steps to Avoid Tummy Troubles
No one wants to deal with a tummy ache when traveling, and that includes our dogs! Pack your dog’s usual food and treats to avoid stomach stress. Make sure to bring along extra in case your return must be delayed for any reason. If something unforeseen happens like car trouble, you can’t guarantee that you will be near a store that carries the specific brand and formula of food that your dog is used to.
Plan Frequent Stops
Avoid unnecessary stress by planning stops along the way. This includes both hotel stays to avoid scrambling to find a place to sleep as well as potty breaks (for both you and your dog). As your dog ages, they may have trouble ‘holding it’ as long as they did when they were a young pup. Remember, avoiding stress on our end means less stress for our dogs too!
If your planned stops include visiting different attractions along the way, double-check before leaving home. A quick call to be sure that they are still open and available will help you to avoid any unnecessary complications.
Planning is important, however, don’t commit yourself to a strict timetable. There are many things that can come up to detour your trip along the way including road construction, accidents on the road ahead, flat tires, and more.
If you are determined to stick to a rigid schedule, these occurrences can cause significant stress. Instead, allow yourself to go with the flow and see where it takes you. You may even find a new favorite road stop for your next trip!
Preparing for Problems
As with any travel, it pays to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. This is especially true when traveling with a senior dog.
Before leaving, create a thorough list of veterinarians and emergency vet hospitals both along your planned route as well as at your destination. Add important phone numbers like the Pet Poison Helpline to that list so that they are readily available if needed along the road. Pack a fully stocked pet first aid kit so that you are prepared for anything that could happen along the way.
You should also plan for more routine issues including potty accidents. Along with paper towels and waste bags, pack a bottle of urine remover to be sure that you will never lose a hotel pet deposit.
But maybe the best preparation that we can make is the resolution to slow down and enjoy the pleasures of traveling with our dogs. Follow their lead. Taking the time to stop and sniff the roses (and other interesting stuff) is what travel is all about, regardless of age!
Do you have experience traveling with a senior dog? If so, we would love to hear your tips for traveling with your senior dog in the comments below!
I really liked the different things you talked about when you discussed getting a vet to examine your dog before a trip. Since the dog we’re adopting from my sister is quite the old dog, I could see how it would be hard for us to take care of it if we don’t get any idea about what could make them sick. To make sure I’m aware of this, I’ll go look for a veterinarian in the area I can take this dog to.