How to move a dog long distance?
June 7, 2006 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Need advice on transporting my dog in a out-of-state move (~1000 miles)

My wife and I are moving from Arizona to Texas soon. We have a dog (30 lbs) who is too big to carry-on to an airplane.

We ARE going to be driving two cars over to TX from AZ but it's a 14 hour car ride. We also have family there, and it's possible one of us will be in each city at the same time which could facilitate one dropping the dog off at one airport and picking it up at the other.

Anyone have any advice using a specific airline's pet transport service? Is it OK just to take him in the car and if so how often should we stop for breaks?
posted by jimmy0x52 to Pets & Animals (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We often take our dogs on long road trips. We give them both dramamine, which prevents them from becoming car sick and also seems to make them drowsy.

One of dogs, who gets a little stressed out was given a prescription for Xanax by our Vet.

We only have to stop every 3-4 hours (usually when it's about time to renew their meds), which is about how often we would stop anyway. We walk them until they do their business (5-10 minutes) and then away we go.
posted by MasonDixon at 8:38 AM on June 7, 2006

We just took our dog on a 12 hour road trip. We had no meds, but we stopped about every 2 to 3 hours and took at least a 10 min break. It's fun! We also had the pet taxi in the back seat and the dog spent most of the day in there. Don't forget to bring lots of paper towels (in case of vomiting) and bottled water for the pup. I've never used an airline's pet transport service, but I doubt our dog could make it 5 or 6 hours without peeing in the crate.
posted by mattbucher at 8:42 AM on June 7, 2006

How's your dog do in the car on short trips?
posted by inigo2 at 8:45 AM on June 7, 2006

Yeah, i also advocate the motor vehicle route. Lots of stops, water, perhaps meds,... etc.
posted by edgeways at 8:46 AM on June 7, 2006

Response by poster: The airline requires a certain kennel size based on dog size, as well as towels on the floor and a water bowl of some kind attached to the screen. They recommended freezing water in the bowl so it slowly melts throughout the day.

Oh yeah - a couple more wrenches in the cogs:

1) This is going to be in July-August ... hot months.

2) I'm thinking I can't drive 14 hours in 1 shot, and will have to at least break it into 2 if not 3 legs.
posted by jimmy0x52 at 8:46 AM on June 7, 2006

Response by poster: Re: How's your dog do in the car on short trips?

He's very nervous and kinda a puker.
posted by jimmy0x52 at 8:46 AM on June 7, 2006

A number of airlines won't transport pets beyond a certain temperature and by the sounds of it, your trip will be in the hot months.

Friends moved from San Diego California to New Jersey and took their dog with them on their drive over. They made a bit of a joke of it and took pictures of "Sammy Peeing Across America"

I would suggest it would be less stressful for your pet to travel with you, then being handled in airports by strangers. Airports are stressful enough for humans who understand them. I can imagine how bad it is for dogs travelling alone.
posted by verveonica at 8:51 AM on June 7, 2006

We drive with our dog (about 30 lbs) all the time, and it is no problem. We often take trips of about 4.5 hours. If we don't take a break along the way, she is fine until we get there. This dog has also gone on cross-country trips involving long stretches of driving. Take a break every four hours or so (maybe take the first break after 2.5 hours since this is new to your dog) and you should be fine.

Things to keep in mind:

If your dog is not in a crate but rather just hanging out in the back seat, cover your back seat with a plastic tarp and then an old sheet on top of that to guard against carsickness.

Have plenty of water and a bowl for when you take a driving break.

Maybe give the dog a little less to eat the night before you drive. Don't let them eat anything immediately before the drive (again, to help with car sickness).

Do a little test drive before you go (an hour or so) to make sure the dog just doesn't freak out at the idea.

On the airline front, I'd recommend against (and many airlines refuse) checking a dog as cargo during the hot summer. Sure, it is a short flight, but you don't want them being stuck out on the tarmac for some reason.

On preview: if you need to break up the trip and stay somewhere for the night, just about all Motel 6 locations allow dogs. and if you dog is pukey on short trips, check with your vet for recommendations.
posted by mikepop at 8:54 AM on June 7, 2006

Re: How's your dog do in the car on short trips?
He's very nervous and kinda a puker.

That's exactly how my dog used to be. The meds helped him a lot. He never or very rarely puked when he was on the dramamine and xanax. And obviously, don't feed him right before you go, but make sure you have water and snacks.

There are motel chains that let you bring your dogs. There are a couple we have marked on our usual route since our drives are usually about 15 hours. I know Red Roof Inn is one that allows pets, but there are others as well.
posted by MasonDixon at 8:56 AM on June 7, 2006

Best answer: I just moved from the midwest to California, and took my dog on along in the car (four days of driving). However, he's really good in the are some of my thoughts, for what it's worth as you make your plans:

He's a 40-pound standard poodle, so he's too big for a crate, but he had the whole back seat to himself (so he could stretch out and sleep or stand up and turn around). We have a sling from the Duluth Trading Company that helps protect him and keep the seats safe.

I made sure to bring a few new toys for him and also a water bowl. I didn't feed him during the day, but we stopped every 3-4 hours for a break and I always offered him water then. An extra leash is important to have on hand, as are bags to clean up after your dog at rest stops (and towels/cleaning supplies if he's a puker!). Most stops have designated dog areas. Always keep your dog on leash there, even if he's usually good about voice command. Also, make sure your dog is wearing an identification tag on his collar that will work if he gets loose in transit -- basically with a phone number that's operational and where you (or a relative) can be reached. You'll want to make sure all his vaccinations are up to date and that you have a copy of his records on hand just in case. Some states require a certificate of veterinary health.

If you find yourself needing to stop at a hotel, AAA makes a great guide for traveling with pets that lists hotels that take pets. Otherwise, try stopping at the larger chains and asking at the front desk. They can probably direct you to another place nearby if they don't take animals. You might have to stay in a smoking room, and they might require an extra fee (usually around $10 or so, in my experience).
posted by handful of rain at 8:57 AM on June 7, 2006

The AAA book on traveling with your pet.

This is great for identifying pet-friendly hotels along your route. We would call ahead from the last rest stop of the day and make a reservation for the night.
posted by handful of rain at 9:01 AM on June 7, 2006

MasonDixon writes "We often take our dogs on long road trips. We give them both dramamine, which prevents them from becoming car sick and also seems to make them drowsy. "

How do you figure the dosage? (My dog also gets very nervous and is kinda a puker.)
posted by mr_roboto at 9:08 AM on June 7, 2006

Best answer: We routinely drive 1500 miles from DFW to Toronto with our dog. Two ~12-hour days. Not a problem. Motel 6, Super8, and RamadaLimited all routinely take dogs.

Ours isn't a puker. Well, not from the car anyway. But talk to your vet about the issue and apply suggested meds.

Get a crate, and put the dog in the crate, and secure the crate as best you can. If you get in a wreck, God forbid, you don't want an umpty-pound dog flying around the cabin at 70mph. It's also safer for the dog, and will facilitate cleanup if there is le pukage. A sling like handful of rain mentions will also work, but you can just hose out a crate.

Let the dog out for excretory fun whenever you stop for gas or food, and offer food and water then. Otherwise, stop and do that routine if the dog is whining enough to seem honestly and no-shit real distressed.

Do not go inside and eat. Any time the dog is in the car, engine is running and A/C is on. Eat back in the car with the engine idling and the A/C on, or at a pic-a-nic table if there is one.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:11 AM on June 7, 2006

How do you figure the dosage?

Talk to your vet.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:11 AM on June 7, 2006

I should add: especially because dosage on some drugs isn't dependent on just weight. Body fat can play a role too, which is why greyhounds need very light doses of anaesthetics.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:13 AM on June 7, 2006

Yes, along the lines of what R_x said, you should plan on fast food drivethroughs if you're traveling alone, or else bring some food and snacks to hold you over. With two people you can do carryout or something like that. If you absolutely need to leave the dog alone in a hotel room, bring a crate -- but never leave the dog in the car.

I hadn't clearly thought through how much McDonalds we'd be eating on the trip, so I wish I'd brought some healthier snacks and supplies.
posted by handful of rain at 9:14 AM on June 7, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone you have been most helpful. It looks like taking him along isn't such a bad idea.

I'm thinking a stop in El Paso and a stop in Fort Stockton (I'm going Tucson>Austin) will make for a good trio of ~7 hour legs.

Or if I'm feeling real ballsy all the way to Ft. Stockton the first day (although somehow I highly doubt it).
posted by jimmy0x52 at 9:21 AM on June 7, 2006

Best answer: I do pet transports. Many dogs, in my experience, will settle in nicely after a while and sleep, kind of like babies who fall asleep as soon as the rubber hits the road. Long steady highway mileage - good, stop & go traffic with lots of noise - not so good, but can be mediated by keeping the windows rolled up and the ac on (which you will no doubt do for your own comfort anyway).

A few notes, from my experience, and to expand on the excellent advice you've received upthread:

* Get a crate, if you don't already have one. I am reluctant to let dogs have the run of the back seat, as I think it stresses most dogs out too much. Inside a crate, they can be cozy and the outside world is a little more removed. Of course, this all depends on the dog and the car and your willingness to tolerate doggie breath and drool on the back of your neck.

* Crates like this allow better air flow than crates like this, but the latter might make the dog feel safer (that whole cozy feeling).

* The airline requirements for transporting dogs are good for transporting in a car as well: ... a certain kennel size based on dog size, as well as towels on the floor and a water bowl of some kind attached to the screen...freezing water in the bowl so it slowly melts throughout the day.

* Consider shades for your back door windows.

* Remember that you will probably have to crank the ac up much higher than if it was just humans in the car, so dress accordingly. (I assume you wouldn't even consider this trip in July without ac.)

Here's a site with all sorts of tips and neat travel-related pet products (no connection, I just found this site now.)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:24 AM on June 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have two dogs, one a nervous puker/crapper in the car, one not, both about 40 lbs. Dramamine in regular human dose works somewhat well to stop the puking, this was on a vet's recommendation. For some reason, Benadryl works too. Also human dose for her, on vet's recommendation.

But the most important lesson Mrs. Lo-Carb! and I learned in several years of doggie road tripping is that having to sit in the back seat of a sedan made our nervous puker that much worse off. We theorized that the seat basically traps her in the swaying, curving motion of the car, thus summoning nausea.

We got a truck, so she could stand up and get her 'sea legs,' and that has made all the difference. She's gone from a drooling, whining mess in the Hyundai to soundly sleeping in the carpeted Toyota truck bed (with camper shell).

Finally, if you're traveling by car, and have AC, you could get an extra key made so you could lock it with the engine/AC running while you quickly run in somewhere to eat/excrete. It's unlikely someone's gonna go to the trouble to break a window to steal a car with a dog in it. But, we did have a Hyundai. YMMV.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:14 AM on June 7, 2006

For some reason, Benadryl works too

Basically, dramamine is benadryl.

Dramamine is dimenhydrinate, and benadryl is diphenhydramine. On googling, dimenhydrinate decomposes to diphenhydramine and a mild stimulant when in the body.

Diphenhydramine is also in on-the-shelf sleep aids. Whichever problem you're trying to fix, it's worth checking out all three products in the pharmacy as the price per 25mg tablet can vary substantially between the three.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:57 AM on June 7, 2006

I asked a similar question about a year ago; my dog is a 30lb pug who, since he has the characteristic smushed-in muzzle of all pugs, is especially prone to overheating.

While he came though the flight fine, I would recommend taking your dog in the car if at all possible, if only for your own peace of mind.
posted by docgonzo at 12:02 PM on June 7, 2006

The best answers pretty much cover it. The only thing I would add is that we moved from Detroit to Fort Worth, we had a golden retriever (who has since passed). Anyway, our original plan was this: I drove down earlier, and my wife and family would fly down. Before they flew, they were going to ship Mollie on the aircraft. My wife made all the arrangements and had it all set up, and when she called the day before, she was told that it was too hot (July) to ship animals in the hold. So I got a one-way ticket back to Detroit, my wife and kids canceled their flight reservations, and we ended up driving to Fort Worth in her car.

So even if the airlines say you can ship animals, don't believe them.
posted by Doohickie at 1:18 PM on June 7, 2006

Just a note, I have a fat pug whom I take on road trips all the time. She has a car seat that goes in the front passenger seat, it has a mesh screen to keep her from rolling out an air pad thing to lift her up enough to see out the windows and her harness straps in as well so it's basically a seat belt as well as an elevating device. It holds up to 35 pounds and only cost about $40.00. I highly recommend it if it's just you and the pooch making the drive.
posted by yodelingisfun at 4:32 PM on June 7, 2006

Response by poster: 35 pound pug? =-O

Yeah, link me to whatever this device is so I can check it out. Thanks!
posted by jimmy0x52 at 6:58 PM on June 7, 2006

Wow that is freaky. I just moved from Chandler, AZ to Austin. With a fifty pound dog. Didn't really think about her being carsick as on the way to AZ 18 mos ago she was fine... still a pup then though. No trouble finding a hotel that took dogs, didn't even reserve a room. Stopped in El Paso (would have been Fort Stockton, but left later than anticipated). I would go for fort stockton as a stop. Then you can eat at the ?KBar? steakhouse? Not to mention being clear of the only major city on the way. I read the post and thought for a second that one of the other people I moved with must have put it up. Crazy. Hope your move goes well, and enjoy West Texas!
posted by chupwalla at 7:59 PM on June 8, 2006

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