Dee Sangale looks at the upsides of travelling with pets, and how to make it a pleasurable experience for all.
Taking the family out on a road trip is one of the most remarkable ways to create unforgettable memories. It is also a wonderful opportunity for family bonding outside of the normal daily routine. But sometimes, our most loved family members get left behind – the dog.
Not only do our pets notice when we are packing up and getting ready for a trip, but they also feel left out of the family circle when we leave them at home with carers. Dogs do have a hard time adjusting to change and this can affect their eating habits or even bathroom behaviours. You may come back from your trip to find your favourite pair of shoes chewed up, because your dog missed you.
Going for a road trip with a dog may sound stressful, but it need not be a traumatic experience for you or your dog. There are a few things you can tick off your ‘packing list’ when you do decide to travel with your dog.
Belt up – Let your pawed pal travel in style with a car seat.
Just the same way you belt up when you drive, so should your dog. There is a wide selection of car seats for dogs of different sizes and breeds online and also in select pet stores. These will not only ensure the safety of your pup while out on the road, but it will also help your pet settle in and get used to road trips. The more they use the car seat, the better they will adapt to it. Do not let your dog stick his head out of the window as this may cause eye damage from particles like dust flowing into their eyes.
Another way to ensure their safety, especially for small breeds like Yorkies, is to put them in a travel crate. The crate should be almost two sizes bigger than the dog and it should be able to stand up and turn around comfortably without its nose or tail touching the sides of the crate. The crate should have enough ventilation and a proper lock on the door.
Food for thought.
On the day of your trip, DO NOT feed your dog for at least 3 hours before you start your journey. It is very common for dogs to get car sick and you don’t want to be cleaning up after your dog every 10 kilometres. Pack plenty of water for them so they do not get dehydrated and you can pack some treats for them. Biltong is a great for a road trip treat because not only will it keep your dog occupied, but it also strengthens and helps clean their teeth.
Comforts of home
When packing for your road trip, remember to pack for your pup too. If your dog has a bed or specific blanket that he loves, bring it along with you. This will help settle your dog when you arrive at your final destination. If he has a toy that he likes to play with, bring it along. He will relax and feel comfortable with familiar objects from home.
It’s great to have your dog on a lead while you are out, but for extra handling confidence and comfort, a harness is highly recommended. Ít offers a lot more support than a lead, and as a handler, you can fully control your dog, especially when going for walking adventures over rough terrain.
Pick up after your pup
Poop bags are a must have on any road trip and they are available at most pet stores. While in the car, plan for regular toilet breaks for your dog so they do not mess up the car or their travel crates.
And when you have to leave them behind
It can be tough on your pet when you go away. But it needn’t be a traumatic experience, either for your or for your pet, with several good boarding options available in Nairobi. Here are three kennels that come recommended.
Yaoni Yappaville, located down Mombasa Road about 80 km beyond the airport, offers boarding for dogs and cats. Dogs are housed in a biggish fenced run-around area with a rondavel kennel, housing up to four dogs. Handlers take the dogs for a long walk in the morning, off leash. Boarding fees vary from 700-1200 a day, including food. Collection from Nairobi once a week, with meeting points in Karen and Karura, costing ksh2,500 one-way. www.yappaville.com
Very Impawtant Pets Spa (V.I.P) offers both indoor boarding and outdoor kennelling for dogs. They are located on 2.5 D Kitisuru Road. Dogs can either stay inside the main house for Ksh1,300 a night, or stay in kennels in the garden for Ksh1,000 a night, including food. The dogs have plenty of opportunity to run around the garden, and are taken on regular walks. www.veryimpawtantpets.com
Crystal Boarding and Pets Just 10 km beyond the airport, this is handy for those wanting to drop off their pets before jumping on a plane. Dogs have use of a compound and playpens to run around in, and are, at request, housed in stone kennels at night. Collection can be arranged from Karen at no extra cost. Depending on the dog size, a day’s boarding costs between Ksh500-1,000, and includes food. See Crystal Boarding and Pets on Facebook, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Dee Sangale runs a boarding facility and grooming service for pets at Very Impawtent Pets Spa (VIP) in Kitisuru, Nairobi.
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