Traveling With Your Dog During A Pandemic

Traveling With Your Dog During A Pandemic: Keeping Everyone Safe & Healthy On Your Journey

This are curious times to be a traveller in America. Every state has different regulations about protecting people from the coronavirus, and it can get plenty confusing.

But assuming you've decided that you can't take the isolation anymore and want to undertake a road trip, perhaps to a nearby state, there are some important tips to keep in mind before you leave, and other things to remember while you're travelling. Here are a few suggestions that will make your trip a smooth, enjoyable adventure, with no issues cropping up about COVID-19:

1) Check the rules of your destination, and abide by them

 You may find you have to have a test for the virus within two weeks of your arrival date. If that's the rule, as it is in New York, for example, spare yourself headaches and big fines, and do it. And get everyone who's travelling with you tested, too. Some places have instituted big fines for tourists coming in who have not been tested, or you may be told at the border you have to quarantine for two weeks before sightseeing. Two weeks, in a hotel room or a van or a tent, without going anywhere, is not a vacation, right? So go on the state government's website, learn the rules, and do as officials ask. And remember, all states are updating those rules every two weeks, so check them frequently.

2) Get you dog a physical and shots before you leave.

Make sure he's completely up to date on everything from his rabies vaccine to distemper, and get him a general physical. If he is prone to sunburn on his nose and ears (yes, dogs can get sunburned) be sure to have a supply of cream on hand during the trip. That goes for any of the other medications he's on as well. A doggie first aid kit is also a good idea -- pliers for emergency removal of porcupine quills, and other "once in a blue moon" disaster relief tools. You'll feel silly packing them, but relieved if you need something and have it nearby.

3) Let him eat and relax before travelling.

Some dogs get nauseated in vehicles, so be sure his stomach is almost empty when you pull out of the driveway. Keep lots of water in your vehicle that he can lap up without spilling it everywhere -- a shallow, plastic bowl you can easily refill is a good solution.

4) Double check his leash, collar and ID tags

Make sure they are all in good working order, and if any of this vital stuff is scratched or worn, be sure to replace it. A friend of mine neglected to check the strength of his German Sheppard's collar, (Scout, his name was,) before their camping trip. Scout took off after a rabbit, and it was a total fluke that he slowed enough for campers at another site to gingerly leash him by tempting him with a piece of bacon. Disaster was avoided, but my friend got Scout a new collar in the next village he drove into.

5) Take his vaccination papers with you

 If you cross into another state you may be asked to produce them, and if you don't have them you're in for a hassle. Avoid all potential problems by carrying all his papers with you, just like you carry yours if you're headed to another country.

6) Travel with his favourite food

Don't assume you'll find his favourite brand everywhere -- you probably won't. And a road trip is not the time to spring a new flavour or brand on him; it might upset his system, especially considering you're on a holiday schedule, he's away from home and his usual routine. Why chance it?

7) Stop frequently for exercise and water breaks

This is a no brainer, but it's particularly important if your vehicle is crowded and your dog is big. He needs to move, maybe even more than the kids and you do! I suggest at least five times, if you're doing a long leg of the journey in a single day.

8) Be careful of other dogs

Dogs are pack animals, and they are always curious about each other. If they are leashed, you can easily control them, but today, in light of concerns about coronavirus, you may want to consider restricting how many strangers pet your dog. If this sounds a bit paranoid, well, that's probably good. Animals do not seem to be susceptible to the virus, but someone could give it to your dog, not even realizing they are shedding it. It's best to err on the side of caution, for everyone's sake.

A road trip with the dog, whether you're going solo or taking the whole family, is a great way to have a holiday but not put everyone at risk of contracting COVID-19. Other years you might have headed to Disney World, but this year that isn't an option. So why not get everyone in the car, van or truck and hit the road together? It can be an inexpensive, fun way to tackle the isolation blues without worry, and that's how a holiday should be.

Just don't forget about "Rover's" needs. Remember these tips, and your vacation will be fun, memorable and unique, in spite of these challenging times!