When people are planning a big trip with their service dog, there are a few things that most people think to consider. Research into pet-friendly hotels, airlines, and restaurants. Rules about air travel. What kinds of toys to bring with you to keep your furry friend happy? These are all important things that need to be planned out. But one area that people often forget about, perhaps because they’re so excited to get out with their pet, is safety. Whether you’re in an airline, a car, or at your destination moving around a city or campsite, there are a lot of travel-specific safety considerations to keep in mind before and during your trip.
The most important service dog safety tip when traveling to a totally new place is to make sure your pet has an implanted microchip. If you’re in a new city, that means the surroundings aren’t just new for you, but for your dog too. The chances of you getting separated are greatly increased. In most cases, if a lost dog is picked up by city services, they’ll immediately check for a microchip. If you already have one, you don’t have to worry about updating it beforehand. But if you don’t have one yet, it’s something that can be done quickly, easily, and relatively cheaply at your local vet.
Vaccinations are another major health concern. Depending on your dog’s age and health, you may not have vaccinated him/her in several years. While that might not be an issue while you’re at home, you may be going to a locale where your service dog will be exposed to viruses or animals that are new. Remember to check with your vet to make sure your dog doesn’t need new vaccinations, or even get old vaccinations updated, before a long trip, especially if you have a new service dog.
It’s not just vaccinations that might catch you off guard with some of the more exotic locations. All kinds of parasites exist across the world and while your service dog might do just fine with limited parasite prevention in your hometown, the same may not be true in other parts of the world. Again, the best bet here is to talk with your vet and make sure you have everything you need to keep your dog protected. You don’t want to spend all that money and research on bringing your service dog with you on vacation just to have the little guy suffer through the whole trip.
Another great and simple trick is to bring a little bit of familiar food with you. You don’t need to pack a giant bag of service dog food, but enough to get you through the first stressful hours or days could help. Just like people, service dogs can get sensitive if they’re stressed out and the last thing they might want is strange food because the place you’re in doesn’t have your pet’s preferred choice.
When you travel, you have to be prepared for everything. It’s not fun to think about worst-case scenarios but a responsible pet owner will do just that. In fact, this is good advice for your pet in general, not just while on vacation! That doesn’t mean you need to carry an entire suitcase worth of medical supplies with you, but you should know about the place you’re going to and what options are available to you. Simply getting online and taking note of the closest vet and/or animal hospital (and how to get there) is a great first step. If you’ve planned everything out, your trip will most likely go nice and smooth. But even if you don’t have any problems, you’ll rest easier and even enjoy your time more if you know that you have all your bases covered just in case.