Everyone needs and deserves to travel, and you’d want everyone you love to be part of this adventure, but how do you travel with a disabled dog? Bringing your special best bud with you can be a life-changing experience, but can you still make the most out of your travel with him in tow?
Traveling with pets is not a new concept, and our transportation systems have even come up with pet policies to make this more feasible and hassle-free for both human and animal travelers. But traveling with a disabled dog can be more challenging because of medical fears and requirements.
Sure, you can always be on the go, but consider how your disabled pet feels in an entirely new environment. The good news is, there are hacks and ways to help you travel and embrace a new adventure with your disabled dog. Your dog trusts you to take care of it even if you are away from home, and here’s how to do it.
Tips on Keeping a Disabled Dog Comfortable While Traveling
Discuss with Your Vet
Before your travel date, it will be beneficial to discuss your travel plans with your pet’s veterinarian. Be proactive and grab the opportunity to discuss your concerns, possible risks, and any medical concerns.
You have to let your vet know as many details about the trip as possible, including the travel time and the mode of transportation. And to be sure, ask for a health certificate from your animal doctor too.
Ensure that your disabled dog has updated and proper vaccinations, especially for rabies, as this is essential if you are going to another country or state.
Be honest about your itinerary so your doctor can provide you with suitable recommendations. Based on your discussion with the veterinarian, you may need to be open to the possibility of having to deal with a bit of discomfort when you bring your disabled pet with you.
Ask for advice or relaxing medicines for those “just in case” moments. How long can a dog travel in a car? Depending on the health condition of your dog, it is a good idea to ask your vet this question. Also, check if there is any first aid care that you may need to learn.
Of course, your vet will have the final say on whether your disabled pet is fit to travel with you. So ensure that you have sufficient time to make changes to your upcoming trip.
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Research Pet-friendly Hotels
Accommodation is one of the travel essentials that you need to close even before leaving your home. Finding a hotel to stay in upon arriving at your destination is risky, especially if you have your disabled dog with you.
When you book a hotel, one of your prerequisites will be knowing if they accept pets and if the property is accessible to disabled pets.
As your dog may be using a wheelchair or face challenges walking around, facilities like ramps and elevators are essential.
Create a list of all the pet-friendly hotels found in the city you’ll be staying in and call them. Discuss your pet’s needs with them and find out if the hotel has most, if not all, of the things you might need.
You may have to be flexible in terms of what the hotels can offer you as there is a risk that no hotel in your destination can meet all of your dog’s needs. Be open to compromises and some sacrifices to make it work.
Find out if you will need to bear any additional charges for your hotel stay with your disabled dog.
Choose the Correct Means of Transportation
Not all dogs are suited to travel in an airplane or car for long hours. Even the calmest dog breeds become restless after some time, especially if enclosed in a carrier.
So how do you travel with a disabled dog? The best modes of transportation can either be via air or car. And between the two, road trips are more comfortable and versatile, making it easier for your disabled dog.
Both means of transportation come with their advantages and challenges, so this is also best discussed with your pet’s vet.
On a road trip, your dog with special needs may experience motion sickness and pee accidents, but road trips afford you the flexibility to have stopovers on your own time whenever you need. Stopovers are a key benefit of dog travel in a car. Your dog can stretch and roam around for a few minutes, making them more at ease for the remaining hours of travel.
While air travel is generally faster, your disabled dog will have to stay inside its carrier for the full length of the trip, which can be scary and highly tiring for your pet.
Acclimate Your Dog Before You Leave
Travel with dogs always involves a little pre-planning, especially for road trips. A trip to the grocery or the park is very different for a dog as the travel period is brief. Extended hours in the car may not be as much fun and can cause your pet to be nervous and car sick.
Build your disabled dog’s confidence by going on frequent short trips around town or nearby areas, extending the time gradually. This would help your dog remain relaxed regardless of the time spent driving around.
If this doesn’t help, it may warrant a discussion with your trusted vet on medications that your dog can take to battle motion sickness.
Bring Treats and Water
It may be convenient to share your food with your dog. Your dog wouldn’t know better and would love anything you give it too, but this is not responsible dog parenting.
Although it is easier to give human food to your disabled dog, it is best to pack your pup’s regular dog food. Yes, you may provide your traveling dog some human food treats, but make sure you know which human food is safe for consumption.
Don’t forget to keep your dog hydrated. Always have a bottle of water with you and pause your adventure, when needed, for a quick snack and drink.
Purchase Mobility Products
Disability in dogs may mean reduced limb mobility. If this is your current challenge with your dog, then investing in a wheelchair is non-negotiable.
Mobility products like the wheelchair, support slings, lifting harnesses, canine scooters, hip braces, and back braces allow your dog to move around effortlessly and provide significant advantages to you.
You don’t want your entire trip revolving around carrying and following around your disabled dog. He wouldn’t want that, so make the trip count for both of you with this mobility equipment.
Invest in a Soft-Sided Carrier
A carrier’s goal is to keep your dog comfortably in place while in the main cabin of an aircraft. It is a smart idea to invest in a soft-sided carrier because it ensures that your dog is at ease throughout the flight.
Look for a pet carrier that is tall and spacious enough so your dog can stand and stretch his legs. It should also be leakproof and well ventilated. Don’t even consider hard-sided carriers because these are very constricting, and disabled dogs should be able to relax and stretch their limbs.
Being cooped for several hours can be too much for regular and adult dogs, so it can be very tiresome for dogs with special needs.
The pet carrier should abide by the airline size policies and restrictions, and typically, it should fit under your designated seat.
Bring His Favorite Toys
Play is vital to dogs, and it brings them comfort knowing that despite being in a new environment, they have something familiar from home.
It can be your dog’s favorite ball or stuffed animal, but make sure you pack it for your trip. And if the question “How can I help my disabled dog during travel?” is running through your mind, make sure your dog is relaxed, comfortable, and secure with people and things it is familiar with.
Plan Ahead for Bathroom Breaks
All dogs are creatures of habit, and they have designated places to pee and poo. Traveling shakes up this routine, so you end up having accidents inside the vehicle.
To help with this, you have to teach your dog to “Go” even in unfamiliar places. Also incorporated in your travel itinerary are the bathroom breaks for your animal traveler.
What to Bring While Traveling with a Disabled Dog?
Preparing to go on a road adventure is always exciting because of the sheer variety and novelty the experience is about to bring. When you are planning to travel with your disabled dog, being mindful of their needs can make the trip more enjoyable for both of you.
You don’t want last-minute expenses or unnecessary stopovers for things you have at home and just forgot to bring along, so create a checklist of the things to bring on your adventure.
And to get you started, here are several essentials you shouldn’t miss and should have within easy reach.
• Your dog’s medications
• Sanitary essentials like pee pads, diapers, and baby wipes
• Big and small towels for accidents
• Trash or storage bags for soiled pee pads, diapers, and baby wipes
• Your pet’s mobility needs like stroller, wheelchair, support harness, and even paw protection booties
• Vaccination and medical records
• Your dog’s ID tag bearing your most updated contact information
• Your dog’s leash and other dog travel accessories you usually use
• Pet first aid kit
How do you travel with a disabled dog? Travel with confidence, knowing that you have adequately prepared for the trip. Travel with an open mind knowing that there might be surprises along the way.
Best of all, travel and embrace the adventure with your disabled dog knowing that both of you will have the best time because you are together.