The only thing better than a classic Alberta road trip is one where your dogs get to come along with you for the epic adventure.
But to have those special moments, you need to consider their needs and temperaments, as well as their tolerance for prolonged periods in a vehicle. Remember, not all pets will enjoy a long trip.
Here’s what I’ve learned while travelling with my two black lab-crosses, Wilson and Hunter.
- FIND THE RIGHT HOTEL: There are plenty of options for hotels that are considered pet-friendly. How much you pay will often depend on your dog’s size or how many pets you have in the room. Some hotels will charge as low as $10 per pet, per night, or as much as $50. Hotels will also have different policies for pets and their owners. This could include leaving your four-legged friend in a crate or kennel when you’re away.
- GIVE YOUR HOTEL A HEADS-UP: Once you’ve booked a hotel online through AMATravel.ca, it’s always best to call the hotel directly to inform them about your pets. The heads-up gives staff time to prepare for your visit, including giving you a room with easy access to the outdoors for when nature calls.
- HEALTH CHECKS: If you’re going on an extended trip, check in with your dog’s veterinarian. They’ll meet many people and other furry friends during their vacay. So make sure all of your paw-some pet’s vaccinations are up to date. You’ll also want to be sure your pets are microchipped.
- GET PACKING: Make sure you have plenty of water, proper leashes, dog food, treats, toys and lots of poop bags for your slobbering, hairy kids. Also consider packing a dog car-seat or having a dog seatbelt to keep them safe.
- GIVE THEM PLENTY OF EXERCISE: If you don’t have time to make frequent stops during your trip, it’s always a good idea to give your pup a rigorous walk an hour before you drive. Adult dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours a day, so they’ll get plenty of shut eye after a good exercise.
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- PREVENT CARSICKNESS: The best way to avoid motion sickness for your pets is to let them travel on an empty stomach, according to the American Kennel Club. But do make sure your dog always has plenty of water.
SAFETY FIRST: Vehicle safety isn’t just for humans! When road-tripping with your dog, keep the following tips top of mind:
•Always make sure your vehicle is well ventilated. If the dog is in a crate, make sure it has fresh airflow.
•Don’t let your dog ride with their head sticking out of the window. That could lead to potential eye injuries.
•Never let your dog ride in the back of an open truck. It’s dangerous, especially on the highway. Your pet needs to be protected from weather elements at all times.
•Never leave your dogs unattended in your vehicle. On an average summer day, when outdoor temperatures are around 21°C, it can reach close to 50°C inside an unattended vehicle. Opening windows or parking in the shade won’t curb the extreme temperatures, either. Take them with you wherever you go.
- PLAN FOR BATHROOM BREAKS: Stop frequently for potty breaks with your dog. And don’t forget to clean up after them.
DURING YOUR STAY
- KEEP YOUR HOTEL IN THE LOOP: There may be times when you have no choice but to leave your dogs alone in the hotel room. If that happens, make sure the front desk is aware. That way, the staff can call you in case of an emergency.
- GIVE YOUR PETS BREAKS: Make sure you take your pets outside frequently during your stay. Keeping your room clean (and free from pet accidents) entices your hotel to keep allowing pets as guests.
- HAVE FUN: If you’re on vacation, you’re on vacation with your pets. They go where you go, always by your side on a leash. My best moments with my dogs have been hiking in Jasper National Park. My labs also get excited whenever we enter a hotel lobby where they’re greeted with dog treats. It gives me joy watching my slobbering boys making others smile, including the hotel’s hard-working staff.
WE’VE GOT YOUR PET COVERED
AMA members save 12% on pet insurance policies through Pets Plus Us. Find out more by visiting amainsurance.ca/pets or calling 1-833-323-2450.