Tips for Traveling with a Special Needs Dog
I had one of my readers ask me a very important question: “How do I prepare for travel with a special needs dog?”. Here are some tips and advice:
– Consider taking a Pet First Aid Course, it has given me the confidence and knowledge to predict and handle many of the situations that can arise while on the road or in a new place.
– Talk to your vet: first of all find out if traveling with your pet is feasible and in their best interest. If so, find out what can potentially go wrong and how to best handle the situation. Ask for things you should be on the look out, what to avoid and how to make the trip safe and comfortable.
– Research your pet’s condition: know as much as possible about it, so there are no surprises along the way. Ask other owners for their advice and experiences.
– Prepare a travel bag for your pet: include in it their first aid kit, medication (always have extra), copy of vet records, prescriptions, food, blanket, ice packs, crate, insurance documents.
– Make sure your pet’s medication is in it’s original packaging, especially when crossing a border. The custom’s officer might ask you to show the original pill bottle and having pills separated into a weekly planner might run the risk of having them confiscated.
– Put medical info on you dog’s tag: Rocco’s tag has his name, our phone number and a note saying “severe grain & bee allergy, epileptic”. Should your pet get lost, they will have a better chance of proper care when found.
– If on the road: map out all the vets along your travel route, include their hours of operation.
– If staying in one place: find the nearest vet (maybe your vet can make a recommendation) and pay them a visit. Tell them you are visiting with your dog and give them a heads up about their condition. Ask questions, especially ask if they have the drugs you will need in case of an emergency (for us it would be Valium and epinephrin, depending on the situation)
– Research your destination: what are the potential hazards? What kind of weather can you expect? etc.
– Do risk assessment: for example Rocco’s seizures don’t pose an immediate threat to him and our main concern is to have him close by; however, his anaphylaxis is a major problem when traveling in remote areas. We always carry an Epi-pen with us. However, should he go into an anaphylactic shock it is certainly a gamble. We have discussed this at length with our vet and have a proper contingency plan in place. Make sure you are fully aware of any potential risks and make decisions accordingly.
– Tell other people about your dog’s condition: for example while staying in a hotel we make a point of telling the reception staff and any guests we meet that Rocco is epileptic and may have a seizure. We don’t want to scare anyone unnecessarily.
If you have your own tips and tricks, please share them in the comment section and I will update this list.
Deena O'Daniel says
Great advice! Whatever the special needs are, there are ways to be prepared and be able to enjoy traveling with your pet. I like the idea of a “medi-alert” type tag just in case.
A Husky Life says
Thank you! I do think that an alert on the tag goes a long way in keeping your dog safe, until you are able to get them back.
What a great post, so many people don’t think about this. I always travel with the dogs medical records, they are kept in a three ring binder, along with their state required licensing.
Until I just read this post I had no idea a dog could have an anaphylactic reaction. I think I would be more frightened of that than of the epilepsy.
Do you find yourself more anxious about one than the other?
A Husky Life says
Hi Jodi, Yes, I’m definitely more nervous about the anaphylactic reaction as it poses an immediate danger to his health, even life. Luckily, he hasn’t had one since the first incident (even though he had been stung a couple of times), but we can’t predict if, when and what could possibly trigger it. His seizures last for about 1 min, and even though they look very scary, they are not dangerous in and of themselves.
That sounds like excellent advice! I don’t have special needs, but one of my bipeds went on a first aid for pets course before we moved to a remote location. It gives them the confidence to assess whether something is urgent or not.
Ann Paws says
This is such wonderful advice!
A Husky Life says
Thank you, Ann!
Jana Rade says
Great article for everybody to read. Special needs need to be taken in consideration when traveling. Many considerations are even the same for healthy dogs as well. Being prepared is the key. Even with a healthy dog, don’t go to a place without finding where veterinary clinic is, where and how emergencies are handled, risks specific for that location such as higher numbers of ticks, mosquitoes, higher risk of leptospirosis … know your location and know the challenges you’ll be facing and prepare for them.
Great advice. It’s always important to check with you vet before hand, and I like the idea of mapping out vets.
Tenacious Little Terrier says
We took a pet first aid course and found it helpful. Mr. N has a bee sting allergy. I don’t know if that counts as special needs but we’re careful just in case!
Mary @ DogTrainingology says
I am glad you mentioned a Pet First Aid course. I took one a couple of years ago and found it extremely useful. I think it is something all dog and cat owners should do.
Lauren Miller says
This is such a great post! My pups are not special needs (YET) and traveling with them is stressful enough. I’m sure it’s even more stressful when you don’t know if your pup will seize or not. That’s awesome that you are so prepared!
Pawesome Cats says
This is great advice for owners with special needs pets!
Jenna "HuskyCrazed" Drady says
These are wonderful tips, thank you
M. K. Clinton says
These are such great tips and some that many people wouldn’t think of that are definitely needed.
Talent Hounds says
Great tips for travelling with any pet, especially a special needs one. We have not taken Kilo anywhere yet as he is so anxious and likes his routine. Must be stressful, but wonderful you are so well prepared.
Fur Everywhere says
These are great tips! Carmine is a special needs cat, and he has a special tag that says “special needs” on it. In case he gets out accidentally and someone finds him, they can enter his ID on a website, and it will tell the person all of Carmine’s medications, needs, etc.
This is a very thorough list!
Dolly the Doxie says
These are great tips. I would recommend them for traveling with any pet not just one with special needs. And its nice that you are willing to travel with them too. Love Dolly
Great advice and pet first aid is a must! Thanks for sharing your knowledge (and pawesome pictures!)!
Excellent tips! You should consider your pets’ medical conditions as carefully as you consider your own when traveling. Great idea with putting the medical conditions on the dog’s tag. I can see where that would be really important.
Sweet Purrfections says
Great advice! It’s very important to consider your pet’s needs when you travel.
Christine Caplan says
Great post – I just took a pet first aid class as a refresher a few weeks back and there were so many tips I needed to be reminded of.
Elizabeth Keene says
Great advice from someone who knows! Special needs dogs don’t need to stay home because they have needs.
Spencer the Goldendoodle says
Great post, lot of things to keep in mind.
Carol Bryant says
Hurrah for this article because people that have pets with disabilities can see they are able to live full lives and travel well – wtg!
Annette @PetsAreFound says
Excellent advice, thanks!
Kitty Cat Chronicles says
My special needs cat, Sophie, loves traveling and going on adventures. I’ve got a checklist of items to be sure to pack for her, and it always seems like she requires more luggage than I do! MOL! Thanks for these helpful tips – they are great suggestions for traveling with a pet, special needs or otherwise.
Cathy Armato says
These are such fantastic tips for traveling with a special needs dog, thanks for sharing!
Love & biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
This is a great post with excellent suggestions! I really like the suggestion about knowing where veterinarians are along the way.