Tips for hitting the road with your adventurous animal
In Southern California, we are fortunate to have a variety of desirable destinations at our fingertips. With beautiful beaches in our backyard, and mountains and deserts within a day’s drive, you never have to go far to discover someplace worth finding. But when your family includes four-legged friends, travel planning often means searching a little harder for places that welcome pets. From road trips to staycations, four-legged flights to animal-friendly accommodations, this is your guide to going places with your pet.
INSIDE THIS GUIDE:
Four Pet-Perfect Road Trips
Healthy Travel Tips
A City Stacation
Book It! Travel Planning Tips
To Board or Not To Board
Six Cage-Free Doggy Day Cares
Roving with Rover
Four Pet-Perfect Road Trips
There’s nothing more freeing than the thrill of the open road.
These dog-friendly destinations are worth the drive.
The Wine Country
With dozens of wineries within driving distance, from Temecula Valley to the Central Coast, there’s no need for Southern Californians to fly to Napa or Sonoma to sip some of the good stuff. Many local wineries allow pets on their patios and even in their tasting rooms. Check out Miramonte Winery, Falkner Winery, Frangipani Estate Winery, and Monte De Oro Winery in Temecula; and Eberle Winery and Villa Creek Cellars in Paso Robles, where dogs are welcome in the tasting rooms.
With so many local dog beaches—from Coronado to Ocean Beach to Fiesta Island—you don’t have to travel far to get your pet’s four feet in the sand. But with 840 miles of coastline in California, there’s plenty more oceanfront to explore outside San Diego County. Discover off-leash dog beaches within a day’s drive in Huntington Beach; Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach; and Butterfly Beach and Shoreline Beach in Santa Barbara County. Leashed dogs are allowed at many beaches along the coast; be sure to read restriction signs before letting your dog loose.
From the nearby gold-mining town of Julian to just-hours-away jaunts like Idyllwild, Lake Arrowhead, and Big Bear Lake, the mountains offer hiking trails, waterfront walks, and canine-friendly cabins. In Big Bear Lake, Pine Knot Guest Ranch offers in-room Jacuzzis for two-legged guests, and dog blankets, dog towels, and two acres of off-leash fun for four-legged friends, who stay for only $10 per night per pet. Find other pet-friendly rental properties on such travel sites as vrbo.com or homeaway.com.
From Borrego Springs to Palm Springs and many little desert towns in between, the arid areas north and east of San Diego offer desirable day or weekend destinations—particularly during the winter and spring, when weather is dry and pleasant, hiking options are abundant, and wildflowers are often in bloom. Spend a weekend in a desert oasis with your furry companion by your side at the newly renovated, pet-friendly La Quinta Resort and Spa, near Palm Springs, which charges a $100 pet fee, regardless of number of pets, and where it’s common to see pampered pooches dining with their pet parents on restaurant patios. Golfers can bring their canine caddy to the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage.
HEALTHY TRAVEL TIPS
The best way to keep your pets healthy on the go is to be prepared. Dr. Julie Fischer, a veterinarian at Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego, offers tips to avoid emergencies when you’re away from home.
On the Road
Before you hit the road for an hours-long journey, know how your pet reacts on shorter trips. Does he or she get anxious or carsick? “Knowing your pet’s baseline reaction to getting into the car allows you to anticipate what might arise,” says Dr. Fischer.
If your pet has travel anxiety, help him or her acclimate to the car by taking short trips, rewarded by play at the park, a treat, or other positive reinforcement.
Severe motion sickness and anxiety can often be prevented or treated with over-the-counter or prescription medication, but only after discussing with your vet the proper drugs and dosage for your pet’s medical history.
Altitude sickness can potentially strike any pet, and traveling to high altitudes or through mountain passes can be especially dangerous in animals with cardiac or respiratory diseases. Be aware of any changes in altitude and decrease your elevation if your animal shows any signs of distress.
Remember safety first. Dogs should ride in the backseat or in the far back of an SUV separated by a protective gate; cats should be in
a carrier. California law—and common sense—prohibits dogs from riding in the bed of a pickup truck unless secured in a cage or with cross tethers.
In the Air
Planning ahead is an absolute must before air travel. Check specific airline policies for weight limits, weather regulations, and medical requirements.
A health certificate is required by many airlines for travel. Inquire with your vet at least a few weeks prior to your flight to allow enough time to finalize any last-minute requirements and receive the signed certificate.
It’s preferable for animals to fly in the airline cabin in a carrier under the seat. Older animals or those with medical conditions should not fly in the cargo compartment.
To prepare your smaller pet for travel in a carrier, allow them time to acclimate to the carrier with treats and positive reinforcement prior to the trip. For cats, a product called Feliway helps to make the carrier seem familiar and may help reduce the stress of confinement.
Don’t forget to pack a photo of your pet, his or her medical records, your vet’s contact information, and the location of nearby vets.
A City Staycation
Downtown San Diego truly has gone to the dogs, with animal-friendly accommodations at even the highest-end establishments. Here are seven local hotels that put the sit and stay in your vacation.
The Manchester Grand Hyatt
1 Market Place
509 Ninth Ave.
W San Diego
421 West B St.
The US Grant
Andaz San Diego
600 F St.
435 Sixth Ave.
1047 Fifth Ave.
Andy Smit, CEO of Furlocity, a one-stop shop for pet-friendly travel planning, offers tips for booking your four-legged adventure.
Read the fine print. Policies and fees vary by hotel. Some have breed or weight restrictions, or only allow one pet per room.
Ask about amenities. Kimpton, for example, provides loaner beds, bowls, pet-friendly parties, and the services of a Director of Pet Relations at certain properties.
Book a ground-floor room for quick potty breaks. Ask about appropriate pet-relief spots and BYOB (bags, that is).
Seek accredited boarding facilities. Research quality, client feedback, online reputation, licensure, and staff competency.
Be prepared. Know where to find the nearest emergency vet.
For more info: furlocity.com
To Board or Not to Board
Editor’s Perspective | What I Learned from My First Time
Leaving your pet when you travel is hard. Without a trusted sitter, boarding may be the only option. For me, it was a last resort. I worried Toby and Tilly would think I abandoned them. My fears were unfounded. With a slew of amenities, San Diego’s boarding facilities can be more luxury resort than last resort. Here’s what I learned:
All “cage-free” facilities are not made equal. There may not be cages, but there can be compartments (or rooms, suites, runs). For crate-trained pets, this is perfectly fine. As a puppy, Tilly nearly strangled herself with a blanket in her crate; that was the last time I put her in any confined space. I wanted truly compartment-free boarding: pet beds in a communal room with other dogs and a night staff person, available to snuggle at the ready.
Playtime is not always included. Some facilities offer an all-inclusive rate that includes group playtime, outdoor time, and other personalized attention; others charge for these extras. Know what you’re getting with your reservation before you commit.
Warning: Cameras can be addictive. I loved that the boarder’s cameras allowed me to see Toby and Tilly sniffing the yard and playing happily. It was also too easy to spend my vacation obsessively checking to ensure they were having fun. Next time I’ll relax.
If you want something, ask. The facility’s website said morning playtime included toys, but no matter when I checked in, I didn’t see any. A simple email saying that Tilly really enjoys fetch received a prompt response that someone would play with her in a private yard away from potentially toy-possessive dogs.
Vaccinate. With kennel cough rampant, I was nervous about what Toby and Tilly might catch at camp. I was happy to see strict policies about current vaccinations, medical records, and emergency procedures. Be sure to have a trusted emergency contact willing to board your pet just in case.
It’s harder for the parent than the pet. I’ll never truly know if Toby and Tilly thought I abandoned them, but I do know they were happy campers. They played all day, ate their food, and greeted my return with gusto. Boarding may not always be the best option for all pet owners, but it certainly can be a fun one for our furry friends.
—Christina Orlovsky Page,
Editor, San Diego Pets Magazine
Six Cage-Free Doggy Day Cares
Best Friends Pet Care
8020 Ronson Road, Kearny Mesa
Multiple locations throughout
San Diego County
Camp Bow Wow
1677 North Marshall Ave., Suite. A,
634 14th St., Suite 104,
Golden Paw Pet Resort
5305 Metro St., Bay Park
3915 Ninth Ave., Hillcrest
2120 Camino del Rio North,