Dog Lover's Guide to Travel


According to one dictionary, the definition of vacation is, “An extended period of recreation with family and/or friends, often away from home.” Since the vast majority of pet owners consider pets members of the family, it’s no surprise that more and more family vacations include dogs and cats.

A Summer Pet Travel survey indicated 60 percent of pet owners traveled with their animals in 2010. The U.S. Travel Association likewise notes that millions of Americans vacation with their pets annually. Since most people travel by car on vacation (nearly 80 percent, according to the Association), it’s easy enough take Fido or Fluffy along. And a 2012 petrelocation poll suggests 90 percent who travel would be happy to readjust their original travel plans to accommodate their pet(s).

Kelly Carter, author of “The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel” (National Geographic Publications, Washington D.C., 2014; $22.95), adds that “traveling with pets can be so much fun.” Still, she concedes that all pets aren’t up for a road trip. Many might be happier staying home.

Carter says she was “blown away” by some of the hundreds of pet-friendly destinations she discovered in researching the book.

She calls Mutts Canine Cantina in Dallas “the most brilliant business idea” The cantina features a one-acre members-only off-leash dog park with full-time attendants, plus an adjacent restaurant/beer garden. There’s even a separate menu for dogs.

Carter calls Seattle one of the most dog-friendly towns. After all, there are more dogs there than children. Not only do over 100 eateries welcome canine clientele on patios outdoors, dogs are even welcome inside Norm’s Eatery and Ale House Of course, many restaurants around America allow canines to join in the al Fresco experience, and some of Carter’s favorites are listed in the book.

Chicago is famous for its Chicago Architecture Foundation narrated boat excursions on Lake Michigan aboard Mercury Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline boats. At 10 a.m. Sunday’s (through the end of September), the same company offers a Canine Architecture Cruise. The captain points out dog beaches, the park with the most squirrels and the city’s oldest fire hydrant.

When it comes to dog beaches, Florida offers many options. The Flamingo Bark Park in South Beach, Miami, is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. It offers two doggie play areas, double-gated entrances, and if you forget your plastic bag, just grab a biodegradable sack offered here. There are drinking fountains for people and for dogs.

Minneapolis is the city of water, and the ulti-mutt choice here is Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park, a partially fenced, heavily forested seven-acre haven for hounds at the south end of Minnehaha Park (on the Mississippi River). It’s muddy, so being prepared is important.

Traveling with your dog (or just for a trip to the local dog beach) means water, sand and maybe mud, so keep some towels in the car. Kurgo, the king of pet travel products, has created a line of canvas back seat protectors for cars, ranging from about $65 to $100.

If you hit a hiking trail with your best pal, bring water, trail mix and dog biscuits. Perhaps you can purchase those biscuits at one of the dozens of dog bakeries listed in Carter’s book.

Need to carry some other supplies? If your hiking partner is a mid-sized dog or larger, let the pooch carry a backpack form Kurgo, ($35 to $50).

If you plan to drive long-distance with your dog or cat, safety is key. Dogs or cats in laps while driving is dangerous, even illegal in some places. If you stop suddenly, your pet could become a projectile. Kurgo (and others) now make booster seats (for small dogs), and harnesses which act as seat belts to keep dogs in place ($10 to $80). For cats, being in a carrier is the only safe way to ride.

Solvit’s Deluxe Car Safety Harness ($28-$55) was crash tested at a Department of Transportation-approved facility using standards similar to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213 used for testing child safety seats. The Solvit safety harness was taken through a 30 mile-per-hour frontal crash test simulation and passed with flying colors .

©Steve Dale PetWorld, LLC; Tribune Content Agency