Snowbirds – Traveling to Warmer Climates with Fido

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Life is good. You have experienced life to the fullest and are now entering the new exciting phase of retirement. The stress of working every day is long-gone and now you can enjoy your home, your hobbies, your family and your dog.

If you are considering becoming a snowbird, traveling to a warmer climate during the cold-weather months, there is more to think about than just where you are going, especially if you want to take your furry, four-legged friend with you.

The Destination

Even though there are many things to plan for when traveling with a dog in tow, you will want to consider where you are traveling to, and even more importantly, where you will be staying. Will you rent a house; stay in a resort or with friends? No matter where you will lay your head, make sure the accommodations are pet friendly.

While more and more establishments do allow for dogs to stay, there may be more fees associated with this and in some cases; your dog’s size may play a factor as well. Ensure you have all the details before you get down there – this will help make your trip a smoother ride for everyone involved.

What to Bring

Once you have figured out the where and when, it is time to start packing for both you and your pup. On top of the daily essentials, food, treats, water, toys and a leash, do not forget to bring the items that are sometimes easily overlooked.  A crate or carrier is a good mode of transportation and can allow your dog to feel at home while temporarily away.

Be sure to pack an extra leash and collar, with identification tags, just in case. Your dog will also feel more comfortable with a familiar cushion or bedding that he’s used to snuggling with. Since you will be away for a few months, you may want to bring grooming tools for your pet to stay looking his best. And do not forget any medications and prescriptions he may be taking.

Most importantly, do not forget to bring your pooper scooper and waste bags to clean up any droppings during your travel and stay.

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If you are going by airplane, you will need to check in with the airlines before you make your arrangements to see what they allow for dog travel. Some airlines require that dogs travel in the cargo area in a crate. Please be warned that this can be uncomfortable and scary to your pet, so be warned that there may be some adjustment time following the trip.

If you have a small dog, some airlines will allow you to bring them in the passenger area, as long as they are stowed under the seat in their carrier. If this is the case you will want to ensure your dog has some basic training underhand before the trip – you may want to look into a bark collar to help train your pup when and when not to bark.

If car is your mode of transportation for this winter trip, be sure to plan out rest stops for your pup to have time to stretch and exert some energy, not to mention go to the bathroom (remember your waste bags). If your trip will take multiple days, plan out where you will stay and ensure it is pet friendly.


Plan Ahead for Emergencies

Bringing a copy of your dog’s pet health documents, as well as a current photo/lost and found information, can allow peace of mind that you are prepared in case the worst happens during your travel and stay away from home. Ensure your pup has identification tags with both your home and the information of where you will be staying. And to be on the safe side, research veterinary clinics and emergency hospitals along your travel schedule and at your end destination. It never hurts to be overly prepared – it could save your dog’s life.

Have Fun

Most importantly the idea of traveling to a warmer climate is to enjoy the outdoors and have fun. By staying along the lines of your dog’s current schedule, he will feel more comfortable and adapt easier to your new living arrangements. Explore new dog parks, beaches and the neighborhood – and don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

Susan Wright the author of the “Snowbirds – Traveling to warmer climates with Fido” has over ten years experience in veterinary care.