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Just as kids need to be prepped before their first visit to a hotel, staying with your dogs in a hotel or bringing your pet on a trip requires preparation and extra precautions. But it’s worth it! Read our tips on taking your furry family members to a hotel and have the purr-fect family trip.
In the eight years I’ve had a dog, I’ve brought her on countless trips. We have traveled without incident. But it wasn’t until I spoke to Dr. Daniel Edge, a veterinarian and Director of Medical Affairs at Zoetis Petcare, that I realized how lucky I’ve been.
Except for staying at pet friendly hotels, I’ve done just about everything wrong.
And I’m not even talking about the obvious snafus, like leaving our pup’s leash at my sister’s house and realizing when I went to check in at a Kimpton Hotel that we had no way to restrain her (luckily, this pet friendly hotel chain keeps dog treats in the lobby, so we could easily lure her to our hotel room). Or the time we left her food at home. We’ve forgotten water bowls, poop bags, her favorite toy.
In short, traveling with dogs is pretty similar to traveling with small children. You just don’t need to play I Spy or sing along to Frozen.
Do Your Homework
Dr. Edge had a fantastic suggestion: Find an emergency vet before you take your dog away from home. Should an emergency arise, a regular vet practice might not be able to fit you in, he says. I always did this when I traveled with an infant or toddler, but I never thought about doing this with my dog.
Also, carry a list of everything you know about your dog, including any chronic illnesses and medications. Also know when the dog had her vaccines. It can be hard to remember this, especially during an emergency.
If you are staying with your dog in a hotel, make sure you have a good recent picture with you in case the dog bolts. Pet owners with a smartphone usually have an overabundance of pet photos with them, but I ‘favorited’ a picture of my dog so I can find it more easily.
On the Road with a Dog
What is the safest place for a dog in a car?
This depends on the pooch’s activity level and size, Dr. Edge says. Your dog needs to always be secure, with a harness that attaches to the belt, or in a crate secured to the floor in the back of an SUV.
Read More: Road tripping with your dog? Read this first!
How often should you stop and walk your dog on a road trip?
Dr. Edge says a good target is to stop every two hours, with the caveat that some super active dogs might need more frequent breaks or longer breaks. Some small dogs might need more frequent potty stops.
How can you help your dog get ready to go on the road?
There are ways to reduce anxiety on a car trip. Dr. Edge notes that motion sickness in dogs may not mean vomiting. He said to “look for behavioral cues like excessive drooling, panting and shaking” which can all indicate motion sickness. He suggests preparing for a car trip by going for quick rides around the neighborhood and trying out an unfamiliar harness or crate to build up your doggie’s car comfort before heading out on a long road trip.
If you see signs of motion sickness during those shorter trips, talk to your vet before leaving on vacation.
Read More: Tips for Flying with a Pet
Dog Friendly Hotels
Boutique hotels like Kimpton and Canopy by Hilton let dogs stay without an extra charge. Lower-priced hotel chains like Best Western and La Quinta often charge an extra pet fee. Always check if there is a weight limit for a dog.
As more people take the family pet along on vacation, hotels increasingly cater to those pampered pooches. Some provide dog treats, dog beds and water bowls. There are even posh hotels in New York that have a room service menu for your dog, and can recommend local pet sitters. The concierge may know where there’s a dog park nearby.
Here’s a list of pooch-approved hotels around the United States.
Which hotel room is best for dogs?
Ask for a first floor room so you can get in and out quicker, and minimize exposure to other people and dogs. You don’t want to have a long wait for an elevator when your dog needs to relieve himself.
Can you leave your dog in a hotel room alone?
Dr. Edge suggests checking the pet policy or asking at the front desk. He says the presumption is that your dog will be in a crate while you are gone. That protects the hotel, but also protects the dog. Even the most diligent cleaning staff can miss a small pill on the floor, but an unattended pet will find it.
This means you need to crate your pooch at home; a hotel or car is not the time to introduce a crate. But, Dr. Edge notes, a crate is a comfort place for an animal. If you bring your dog crate and bed from home, she will feel safe, not stressed.
How can you keep your dog calm while you’re gone?
- Hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door while you’re gone. It’s easier to forego daily housekeeping than worry about a stranger’s appearance disrupting your sleeping pup.
- A white noise machine can cover unfamiliar sounds such as footsteps in the hallway, slamming doors and moving elevators, all of which can cause anxiety in pets. If you didn’t bring a white noise machine, try leaving the television or radio playing while you’re gone.
- Bring along a very special treat they rarely get, like a large Kong filled with peanut butter, or a food puzzle to occupy him while you’re gone.
Read More: 40+ Pawsitively Awesome Gifts for Pet Lovers
S*#t happens. What should you do if your dog has an accident in a hotel?
Even if you are staying at a relative’s or friend’s house, Dr. Edge says to bring cleaning supplies in the car. The paper towels and cleaners you brought when you had a kid in diapers, or a child prone to car sickness are fine. And do what you can to clean up before alerting the front desk. Hotels that advertise themselves as pet friendly understand that accidents happen, and they will have cleaning supplies if you don’t, he says.
Another tip I’ve gleaned from years of pet travel: Not all guests at pet friendly hotels are dog lovers or dog owners. Minimize your time in the lobby and other common areas.
For more information before you go on the road with your pooch, check the American Veterinary Medical Association Travel FAQs.