Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pet-Friendly Travel: Car Trip Tips, Beaches, Hotels, & More!

One of the most difficult parts of heading out on a family vacation can be leaving part of the family behind; it can be heartbreaking to pull out of the driveway and know that you won't be seeing your furry friend for another week until you get home.

But there's good news! With more and more places in West Michigan being welcoming to Fido, there's no reason to leave your pet behind when you hit the road this summer! We've compiled a list of pet-friendly places (lodging, attractions, and more) in West Michigan, so you can plan on bringing along the entire family on your next summer outing!

Take a look at the list of pet-friendly places in West Michigan, and then read on below for some tips on traveling with your pet in the car and taking your dog to the beach.

Pet-Friendly Places in West Michigan

Region One: The very northernmost tip of West Michigan

Region Two: Traverse City and the surrounding area

Region Three: Manistee National Forest and nearby

Region Four: Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon area

Region Five: The southernmost area of West Michigan down to the Indiana border

Region Six: Central corridor of Michigan

Tips for Car Trips with Pets

Courtesy of
If you're heading out on a road trip and planning on bringing the pet along, be sure you take a look at these tips for having a safe, comfortable trip with your pet. Tips courtesy of ASPCA.
  1. Keep your pets safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Whatever you choose, make sure it's large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. And P.S., it's smart to get your pet used to the carrier in the comfort of your home before your trip. 
  2. Get your pet geared up for a long trip by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car. And please be sure to always secure the crate so it won't slide or shift in the event of a quick stop. 
  3. Your pet's travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. Don't feed your furry friend in a moving vehicle—even if it is a long drive. 
  4. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop. In cold weather, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death. 
  5. What in your pet's traveling kit? In addition to travel papers, food, bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first-aid kit, pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity. 
  6. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and wears a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information. Canines should wear flat (never choke!) collars, please. 
  7. Don't allow your pet to ride with his head outside the window. He could be injured by flying objects. And please keep him in the back seat in his crate or with a harness attached to a seat buckle. 
  8. Traveling across state lines? Bring along your pet's rabies vaccination record, as some states requires this proof at certain interstate crossings. While this generally isn't a problem, it's always smart to be on the safe side. 
  9. When it comes to H2O, we say BYO. Opt for bottled water or tap water stored in plastic jugs. Drinking water from an area he's not used to could result in tummy upset for your pet. 
  10. If you travel frequently with your pet, you may want to invest in rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers, available at auto product retailers.

Taking Your Dog to the Beach

With so many beaches up and down the coast of Michigan, why not bring your dog along on your next beach trip? There's more involved in a doggy beach trip than just packing a towel and some sunscreen. Read on for some Dos and Donts of dog beach trips, courtesy of Trips With Pets.

Courtesy of
For most dogs, getting to run around in the sand, dip into the waves, and fetch balls out of the water is the best day ever! Here are some tips to ensure that you and your dog have a fun and safe beach experience.
  1. Check with your local beaches before you pack up the dog, since not all beaches allow them. Call ahead or visit the beach's website for information. It's also important to find out whether they need to be on leash or if they can roam free. Bring a long leash no matter what, but know ahead of time if there will be an area where a leash isn't necessary. If they don't need to have a leash, only let them be without it if you know for an absolute fact that they will respond to your voice commands. Other dogs, people, certain scents, birds, etc, may catch their attention and cause them to tune you out, which could be a recipe for disaster (no one wants a dog fight). Some people on the beach (as well as easily frightened children) will be less dog-friendly than others, so be mindful of who your dog might be approaching to avoid any sort of snafu.
  2. Never, EVER leave your dog unattended. Even the most well-trained dog can get distracted; pay extra special attention to your surroundings and any potential situations that may cause your dog to wander or run off. Follow ALL of the rules set by the beach. You don't want to be the reason that dogs aren't allowed at that particular beach anymore.
  3. If this is the first time your dog will be swimming, you may want to read up on his breed just to be sure. For example, shar peis tend to be afraid of water. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but finding out if swimming is characteristic of the breed will be a good indicator of how enthusiastic (or timid) they might be. When you bring the pup to the water, if he isn't diving right in, take it slow. Don't force your dog to go in. He may feel more comfortable if you head in first and call him. If you're nervous or unsure, purchasing a dog life vest to bring with you would be a safe bet.
  4. Be wary of temperature extremes. Pay attention to how your dog is acting and responding while he's with you throughout the day, since there could be the potential of either heat stroke or hypothermia (if he's been swimming his little heart out).
    1. A few ways to prevent heat stroke is to bring lots of fresh, cool water that they can drink. A spray bottle with cool water that you can spray him down with will also help in temperature regulation. A bonus of having fresh water with you is that you can also clean the sand and salt water from his paws, which can cause irritation and dry out those sensitive pads. Also, since you can't guarantee that you will have access to a shady area, bring an umbrella that he can hang out under.
    2. To make sure that hypothermia doesn't strike, bring lots of towels that you can snuggle him in and remove the excess cold salt water. Not only can this warm him up quicker, it also helps in removing the sand and salt water from his fur so he won't be in danger of shaking off on someone else.

The Dos and Don'ts of the Dog Beach

Many beaches allowed dogs at one time, but due to careless owners, had to put a stop to canine patrons. Follow these rules (in addition to the beach's rules), and you'll make sure that you can bring Fido back as many times as he likes.

Dog Beach Don'ts:

  • Don't let your dogs go into areas on the beach where they're not allowed. Dunes and grassy areas need to be protected from any sort of environmental damage that a dog might cause.
  • Don't let your dog out of your sight. Not even once. Paying attention and being proactive will go a long way in protecting you and your dog. The last thing you want is to be sued for a dog fight or by someone that had a run-in with your dog.
  • Don't forget to bring the leash, beach towels, umbrella, fresh water, and doggie sunscreen (yes, you can actually get sunscreen specifically made for dogs).
  • Don't leave a mess behind! Don't count on the beach supplying waste bags, so bring your own and be diligent about cleaning up. No one wants to find a surprise just laying on the beach or buried in the sand.

Dog Beach Dos:

  • Do make sure your dog's vaccinations are current and that he's wearing the proper ID. Keep your vet's number on hand just in case something happens.
  • Do set a time limit for your beach trip. A couple hours might be just the right amount of time at the beach, depending on your dog's activity level. At the first sign of your dog tiring, pack it up and get back on the road.
  • Do bring toys and balls to throw and find sticks to fetch. This is exactly why you are both there: to HAVE FUN!

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