Traveling with a dog or cat within Vietnam can become overwhelming. Relocating to or moving away from Vietnam with pets will present complications that need to be considered and planned for well in advance. This is the first of two articles providing advice and tips to overcome obstacles when traveling with pets. This month I tackle the problems of traveling locally. Vietnam is not a pet-friendly travel country, however many pet owners do travel with their pets as they consider them part of the family and want to include them on their travels. You will encounter unwillingness from people who simply do not share your love of your furry family member.

If you own a dog, getting around the city with one is relatively easy by taxi or motorbike. Taxis will take them if they’re secured in a carrier. For small carriers place it on the floor of the taxi and open a few windows for ventilation so the dog’s odor doesn’t remain in the car. For larger carriers, place in the back of a 7-seat taxi. Bring a couple of wet/ dry towels just in case your dog has left a surprise! However, if you travel with a cat, do not be surprised if you are refused a ride. Many taxi drivers forbid cats in their cars as they’re considered bad luck. Tip: fold down the flaps of your non-plastic cat carrier and place on the floor of the taxi quickly, without fussing. If the driver makes an inquiry tell him it’s a small dog. If there is any further trouble, tip generously for his inconvenience.

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If you ride a motorbike, consider training your dog to ride along with you. For smaller dogs and cats, a secure carrier that can be nestled into the floor of the motorbike is recommended. Tip: always secure a strap to the carrier and put them under your seat to prevent the carrier falling off or getting stolen. Larger dogs should be introduced to motorbike travel gradually to become acclimatized to the movement, the noise, the heat and other motorbikes in traffic. They need to learn to feel stable (center of gravity) when standing upright while the motorbike is moving.

Car, Train, Bus, Plane and Hotels

Creating a safe, comfortable trip with a pet always begins with considering the logistics of a trip (transportation and accommodation) and their needs: behavior (temperament), nutrition, maintenance and security.

Talk to your local travel agency and hire a private car and driver that’s pet friendly. This is highly recommended because you gain complete control over your pet’s care. Traveling by train or bus is not recommended as there are no clear rules and regulations concerning pets. By plane, Vietnam Airlines has a special cargo service for pets. Go to www.vietnamairlines.com, look for the menu item: Before You Fly > Baggage Information > Special Baggage > Pets / Animals as Checked Baggage (AVIH). It’s not advisable to travel long distances with your dog on a motorbike.

There are a few online travel sites that provide listings of dog-friendly accommodations in Vietnam. It is best to contact them directly to verify, as you do not want unpleasant surprises. Begin your search with these recommended sites: bringfido.com, wotif.com, lastminute.com, letsbookhotel.com, petvacations.com and dogfriendly.com. Use keyword phrases of your destination, for example, “Nha Trang, Vietnam.”

Animals-and-Air-Travel (OiVietNam_3N)

Behavior

Think about the temperament of your dog. The humidity, dust and noise of long trips in Vietnam can overwhelm the best of us. If you do not have a history of traveling with your pet and question the dog’s temperament it might be best to consider leaving them at home.

Nutrition & Maintenance

Bring along a supply of your dog’s regular food and treats. Maintaining your dog’s regular feeding, exercise and sleeping habits will make the trip less stressful. Bring fresh water from your home because, like us, dogs can develop intestinal problems from new sources of water. Diarrhea is not a problem you want to deal with on the way there or in your hotel room.

Security

Include a few favorite items (toys, bed, etc.) of your dog for his sense of security. It is always recommended to have your dog tethered or leashed with a collar and harness with some kind of identification. Be aware of your dog all the time; resist the temptation to let the dog roam. There are dog thieves everywhere.