Traveling with our dog Zoe is one of the best things about slow travel. She goes everywhere with us and loves visiting new places and people just as much as we do. Unfortunately, Zoe is now over 13 years old and traveling for her is not as easy as it used to be. This however, does not mean that she can’t travel with us. There are some simple steps to take to make sure that she is still happy and comfortable and enjoying her time exploring the world with us.
Make sure your mature pet has ample space in the car to lay down comfortably on long rides. Zoe has enough room in our car to lay down, get up, turn around in a full circle, and stretch if she needs to. Her joints are a little stiffer now that she is 13, so we try to give her lots of room to be comfortable. She has more space in the car than Kenin and myself combined.
We make a lot more stops on our journeys now that Zoe is a senior doggie citizen. We plan for stops to walk and stretch and get some fresh air. Most rest areas have pet walk areas and we try to stop every two or three hours for bathroom breaks for Zoe and we always take a few minutes for her to walk around.
Hydration is important for us and even more important for Zoe. She can’t tell us when she is thirsty, so we give her water every stop we make. This means more bathroom breaks, but that’s okay by us and much more preferable than a dehydrated dog. Water is much more necessary in her old age to keep her joints and muscles lubricated and limber. A hydrated pet is a happy pet. If you can’t find a fresh water source the H2O4K9 is an awesome water bottle for your dog.
We do a bit of doggie yoga every morning, but we stretch a little extra on travel days even before leaving on a trip. Stiff joints are hard on elder pets and hours in the car can aggravate this condition. When we take our restroom breaks or snack breaks we make sure to walk a bit and stretch a bit as well. People remember to get out and stretch, but it is important to let your pet out to get a little limbering up as well.
You want your pet to always enjoy a trip no matter how long or short it may be. The car needs to be Zoe’s happy place and I always want her to have as much fun as we are having while on vacation. Nothing makes her more happy then hand feeding her treats (well maybe a sneaked in hotel bed snuggle ;) ). Keep treats easily accessible in the car for your pet to keep them happy and to keep that vacation feeling alive and well.
Above all things and most importantly, be patient. Watching my dog age is very difficult for me, but I imagine it is so much more difficult for Zoe. Be patient when they are slower on walks. Be patient when they have potty accidents (and be prepared with household cleaners and paper towels). Help them in and out of the car when necessary. Your dog wants nothing more than to be with you. Be patient with them when they take a little longer than usual to do things they once did with ease.
Traveling with an older pet is not easy, but it is absolutely worth it to have your furry friend at your side!