Tackling Travel Healthcare With a New Puppy
By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
I’m not sure if it’s the holiday season or the colder, snuggly weather but I have seen an uptick in posts about people wanting to get a puppy while working as a healthcare traveler. Most people pitching this question just want testimony from others in their position who have successfully added a new furry member to their family while balancing all of the other challenges travel healthcare has to offer.
Traveling with a new puppy can be tricky, but it is not impossible. We added Summer to our family back in February and have not regretted it once. Here is a reflection on our experience, with a little advice sprinkled in.
If you plan on adopting a dog, keep that in mind when choosing your housing.
We had talked about getting a dog for a while before we actually did it. Heading into our Phoenix assignment, I chose an apartment that was pet-friendly knowing the time frame was just about right. I also made sure to get a first-floor apartment to make potty training easier. I can’t imagine having to get up at 3 a.m. and take my dog down 3 flights of stairs or an elevator to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
If you plan on getting a small puppy that needs potty training, wood or tile is also easier to clean. Make sure and invest in some Nature’s Miracle spray to help keep the little one from marking frequently. Older dogs may already be housebroken, so this could be a plus to adopting a pup that is a little older.
Stay up to date and organized with your puppy’s vaccines.
Keeping updated records is key for getting pets into apartment complexes, and is necessary if you plan to take your pup into Alaska or Hawaii as both states require specific certifications. Moving every few months can make it tricky to find a new vet and stay on top of your dog’s vaccines.
We started using Banfield Pet Hospital for our cat and knew it was the perfect option for our new puppy as well. Banfield is a veterinary chain that has nationwide offices. Their services tend to be a little more expensive than local vets, but I love knowing they always have all of our pets’ information in their system. We did do their puppy plan for $30 a month which covered all of her first-year vaccines and was an easy way to make sure she got everything she needed.
Utilize doggy daycare or dog walking services when they are younger.
Now that our dog is over a year old, she can easily go a full workday without an accident. I like to remind concerned healthcare workers that many nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals have dogs that may have to be kenneled for long shifts and they do just fine.
However, when your pup is smaller they will need to be taken out more frequently. We actually got 4 free walks with Wag when we got Summer and used that to help us on days when one of us wasn’t home.
I have also heard great things about the dog sitting services offered by Rover. My husband and I are lucky because our schedules are different and there weren’t many days she was home alone all day, but it was a nice service for those few days.
Crate training is a great tool when negotiating with landlords.
While apartment complexes have been easiest to work with when we look for housing, we have managed to negotiate our way in with our dog by explaining that she is always kenneled when we are not home. This keeps her safe and keeps the house safe as well.
Since she came from the Humane Society, she was already used to kenneling but we did have a few rough moments when she got a crazy idea to try and break out.
I recommend getting a collapsible metal kennel that can be stored and moved easily. By getting her used to the kennel at a young age, Summer now thinks of it as her safe space and she will hang out in there even when we are home.
Even if you plan, expect a few hiccups along the way.
Getting our puppy while traveling has been great for many reasons. She has adjusted well to car rides, hotel stays, and constantly changing environments because that is all she knows.
That being said, we have had a few irritating moments as new pet parents. We first thought potty training was going great until we left our apartment complex. She refused to pee anywhere but the rocks outside our apartment for the first three months which made hotel trips frustrating.
After 30 minutes of walking around the “new” outside area, we would take her back inside to immediately have an accident. We also had some issues with car sickness and still don’t have a great solution for that outside of Dramamine.
At the end of the day, we wouldn’t change a thing.
Traveling with a new puppy definitely came with a unique set of challenges. But the companionship and fun that also came along are irreplaceable. When we get a little lonely, or one of us is working long hours while the other is home alone, having Summer is a great excuse to get out of the house. She is also a great Netflix buddy. The love and cuddles from our dog are worth the hectic moments, and we would definitely encourage anyone feeling called to adopting a furry friend to go for it!
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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