Travel Tips: If Your Dog Gets Sick While Traveling

Be ready for unexpected illnesses and accidents while traveling with your dog.

It won’t be long before travel season is here—you’re already making plans for an escape and can’t wait until you can hit the open road. But wait a minute…are you bringing your dog along as you explore the great outdoors? If you are, you need to think ahead and prepare for the unexpected. Do you know what to do if you’re on vacation with your dog and he gets sick? Do you have what’s needed to make him feel better, patch him up, and get back to enjoying your vacation?

If Boy or Girl Scouts taught you anything, it’s to always be prepared. That’s why we’re put together this list of things you’ll need to bring with you on your travels just in case your dog gets sick.

Motion Sickness

On the long and rambling road, even the best of us can suffer from the familiar upset tummy troubles brought on by motion sickness. The same goes for dogs—and it ain’t a pretty sight (or smell) when all that motion leaves your dog with the heaves. Common in puppies and older dogs, motion sickness can really affect dogs of any age. Expect vomiting, listlessness, excessive yawning or panting, whining, drooling and anxiety when an attack is on its way.

To combat the effects of motion sickness, keep your dog as comfortable as possible in the car by bringing along items such as a favorite blanket or toy. Make sure your dog facing forward during travel to reduce his nausea (looking out the window will make it worse). While you’re driving to your destination, roll the windows down just a few inches to balance the air pressure, and keep your vehicle cool and well-ventilated. And if you know that motion sickness is inevitable, don’t feed him close to your departure time (drinking water is fine) and bring along some motion sickness pills recommended by a vet.

Medical Records and Insurance info

Knock on wood that it doesn’t happen, but there’s always a chance that your dog could suffer from a major illness while you’re away from home. If your dog suffers from an on-going condition, photocopy these medical files (or download them to a smartphone app) so you have all the necessary details to give to a vet. And on that note, research the area where you’re headed and keep the numbers of emergency vet and hospitals with you. If you do visit a hospital, save all your receipts so you can file a claim with your insurance company. Lastly, book a follow-up appointment with your veterinarian when you get home.

First-Aid Kit

Before starting your car, assemble an emergency first aid kit for your dog and keep it in the car. This kit should include basic first-aid items such as bandages, gauze and tape as well as styptic powder to stop bleeding, tweezers to remove splinters and a muzzle to keep your dog from biting (pain may make him snap or bite). It doesn’t hurt to pack some antiseptic wipes, saline solution and disposable gloves in the kit. And always keep some hydrogen peroxide on hand—if your dog eats something he’s not supposed to, it will induce vomiting.

Basic First-Aid Skills

We’re not talking about surgery here—basic first-aid applies to minor injuries such as shallow cuts and scrapes. These are wounds you should be able to clean and dress yourself. Check the wound for stones, glass or debris, and then clean it thoroughly with water and antiseptic wipes. Cover the wound with gauze and secure it in place with tape. If it’s bleeding, apply pressure until the bleeding stops before bandaging it up, and check the wound often to make sure it’s clotting properly. For deep cuts or breaks, seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

No matter what illness or injury your dog suffered from while you were on vacation, schedule a follow-up appointment with your regular vet after you unpack. You never know if that minor illness or cut could be harboring something more serious.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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