Dogs are man's best friends - and very often, they are those who help us fight depression, anxiety, or deal with other personal struggles. But the fact is, sometimes the roles might be reversed, and it might be the dog who will require care - whether due to age, accident, or a serious health condition. And if you find yourself in a situation like this and decide to support your dog for the remainder of its life, you are unquestionably a true friend.
But don't let such a situation take control of your life. While your disabled pet may require a great deal of attention, this does not rule out the possibility of it playing with you or making you feel better. In fact, he can even accompany you on your travels if you plan ahead of time. All you need to do is be adequately prepared for your journey.
We have consulted the dog enthusiasts and asked for some advice. Want to learn more about traveling with a disabled dog? Make sure to read on - in our article we’ve included tips on how to take great care of your furry friend while having the best trip of your life.
Traveling By Plane
Check Flight Restrictions
There are common flight restrictions that apply to all pets, such as age (your dog must be at least 8 weeks old), size (it must fit into a carrier and the carrier must fit into the aircraft's cabin), and weight (the total weight of your pet, its carrier, and supplies must not exceed 20 pounds).
In addition to these, some airlines have their own restrictions, e.g. when it comes to taking your dog to the cabin or leaving it in a cargo hold (although you probably wouldn't want that for your disabled pet). It is important to check that before the flight.
Purchase a Carrier
A carrier prevents your pet from wandering around the cabin or escaping while the plane is in the air. When choosing one, you need to ensure that it's comfortable for your dog with special needs. Your pet should be able to stand up and move around freely inside the carrier. Moreover, the carrier needs to be ventilated and leak-proof - and it should meet the size restrictions of the airline you chose (usually, it means that it must fit under your chair).
Get a Veterinary Health Certificate and Prepare Other Documents
Before embarking on a journey with your pet, make sure that it is in good health and visit a veterinarian. The doctor will provide you with a health certificate that will state your pet's name, breed, vaccinations, and any medical conditions. This certificate must be issued within 10 days prior to travel within your country or within 14 days prior to the trip in case of international travel. You can also check what other documents to bring with you here.
Traveling By Car
Road trips are generally easier for a special needs dog than air travel, but they come with their own challenges. For example, many dogs experience motion sickness during a ride, while others might pee themselves if you're on the road for a long time. Here are some tips that can help you make car travel pet-friendly:
- Don't feed your dog at least a few hours before travel;
- Use a carrier or a safety harness to make it comfortable;
- Make sure the car is cool, so your dog doesn't get too hot;
- Bring toys to help it deal with anxiety;
- Bring pee pads and place them inside the car for potential accidents;
- Consult your vet about using anti-nausea or anti-anxiety medications or herbs so that your dog doesn't get sick during the trip.
Other Tips for Traveling with a Disabled Pet
Get a Wheelchair for Your Pet
If the situation is serious and your dog lost mobility in its legs, then getting an appropriate wheelchair is a must. It will allow for a more comfortable trip both for you and your furry friend by giving it the possibility to move around freely.
If your dog doesn't require a wheelchair but experiences some problems with movement, make sure to get any other necessary mobility products - such as footwear or harnesses.
Bring Food and Water For Your Dog
Don't rely on a regular diet while traveling, and don’t feed your dog human food - instead, prepare dog food, pack it well (so that it doesn’t go bad), and keep in mind that you may have to stop and feed it. Reduce the meal portions on travel days, and consider bringing canned pumpkin or yogurt that are said to work miracles for an upset stomach. Also, on long trips, make sure to bring enough bottled water with you so that your dog doesn't get thirsty.
If your dog takes any medications, then you need to bring enough of them to last for the entire trip. Moreover, make sure to have the medication on hand in case of an emergency and write down the addresses of animal hospitals along your way.
Find a Pet-Friendly Hotel
If you're traveling with a disabled dog, it's important to find a pet-friendly hotel. Make sure to check the hotel's restrictions, such as the number of pets allowed, if there is a pet fee, and if there are any breed restrictions.
Bring Your Pet's Favorite Toy
If your dog is stressed out and anxious in a new environment and you want to help it relax, then bring its favorite toy with you. Play is an important part of a dog's life, so engage in it with your pet as often as possible.
Talk to Your Veterinarian Before Traveling
If you are planning a vacation with your dog who has a special condition, then don't hesitate to contact your vet. This step is crucial if your pet has any serious health problems, because your veterinarian can tell whether or not it can travel with you and how to make sure that the trip proceeds safely.
As you can see, traveling with a disabled dog is possible if you are adequately prepared. However, it's important to note that this may come with some challenges - and that's why you need to be flexible when it comes to pre-planning your trip.
Don't forget to talk to your veterinarian and get as much information as possible about the things to consider while traveling with a disabled pet. Check all the necessary requirements for taking your dog on a flight or on a road trip, bring its medications, food, and toys, and make sure to purchase the right carrier. And, in the end, don't forget to have fun - after all, that's what traveling with your pet should be like.