How should I feed my dog when we are traveling?

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Traveling with your dog can be great fun—or it can be a nightmarish and stressful event, for both you and the dog. A little extra preparation will ensure a good trip—or you may even find that it will be best for the dog to let her stay home.

The thing about traveling is to look at it from a completely holistic view. You need to be prepared on all fronts, not just feeding, because one thing will always affect another. So while feeding is always a big concern, you’ll want to keep your dog’s routine as uninterrupted as possible; remember, dogs are creatures of habit and they hate any change—and that will result in things like appetite loss, GI problems and then possibly trickle down to behavioral problems.

The question about feeding will also be more of “when” and “how much” rather than “what.”

Here’s a checklist:

• How will you be traveling? Airplane’s a tough one because, even though a few airlines allow small dogs in the cabin, dogs are mostly considered cargo. Your vet may well suggest an anti-anxiety medication or a slight sedative so she sleeps through it—and that will affect when and how much you feed. That can also be the case if your dog gets car sick.

• Check online, at the library and book stores, or with your auto club for dog-friendly hotels and motels.

• If you are driving, plan to stop every 3-5 hours to allow your dog to relieve herself, drink water and stretch her legs. Make a list of veterinary hospitals within one hour’s drive from any given point on your route. Note the office hours.
• If you plan to provide a crate or your pet, and make sure the animal can stand erectly inside the crate. If flying, make sure it’s clearly marked “live animals inside.”
• If you’re traveling by car, remember that dogs also need car seats.
• Talk to your veterinarian about any necessary medications and health certificates.
• If you will be traveling out of the country, check information regarding vaccinations, quarantines and paperwork for international travel.

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