Thursday, December 29, 2011

Optional Goodies - Remember, Your Service Dog is Still a Dog!

Optional Goodies
As part of your check list, there are a few items that you may want to bring in case of emergency or just to make you and your service dog more comfortable.
Poo bags:  These are handy when you go on shore with your dog.  You want to be a good citizen wherever you go, and make sure you pick up after your dog.
Shampoo.  Human shampoos can be harsh on dog’s skin.  Consider bringing a quarter bottle of your dog’s regular shampoo for a quick derriere dunk, or paw wash.
Scissors:  your dog may be clean, but sometimes people and places aren’t.  A small pair of scissors is handy to cut out burrs, matts and gum.
Blankey & toys:  Bring a couple of things that your dog is accustomed to sleep with and play with.  Asta has a fleece blanket that is light and easily packable, a favorite rubber ball, and a fuzzy bear.  Just be sure to make sure the toys don’t end up overboard!
Insect repellant:  Many wonderful cruise destinations have bugs!  Hawaii, the Mediterranean.  Mosquitoes are the worst (for humans and dogs), in my view, and anything to keep them away is a plus.  You do not want to use anything with DEET on your dog, though, even though effective.  It stays on their fur, and if ingested could make them very ill.  There are some natural repellants that are worth a try, such as Bite-Blocker.
Hydrocortisone:  If your dog (or you) does get bitten, I’ve found the best alternative to stop the itch is Hydrocortisone.  There are natural anti-itch remedies for dogs, including tea tree oil, lavender, and others.  Frankly, they are totally ineffective, and, in fact, tea tree oil, if ingested is poisonous!  There are dog-designed products with hydrocortisone (such as Itch Stop) that typically include .5% hydrocortisone.  Alternatively, you may want to pop a bottle of 1% hydrocortisone spray in your bag that both you and your dog can use!  Note that hydrocortisone typically comes in a cream form or a spray form.  If you have a longer haired dog or one with a thicker coat, get the spray so that it will get to the itchy spot more effectively, and not gunk up her fur.  Also note that you should try to keep your dog from ingesting any of the hydrocortisone – it should stop the itch, though, and she should have no incentive to chew on the area.
Nature’s Miracle:  Well, your service dog is a dog afterall, and accidents do happen.  Best to be prepared for accident clean up that hopefully won’t be needed.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cruising Safely! Life Vest for your Dog.

Life Vest.  I never thought about a life vest on a cruise ship, but my vet insisted on it!  She said, if there were an emergency, wouldn’t you want to give Asta a good chance of survival?” Well, yes. 
There are a number of life vests for dogs available, but be sure to get one that keep their head up out of the water (Asta has one by Paws Aboard).  Some are constructed so that the floatation material is all on their back, effectively pushing the dog’s head down.  They can actually hamper the dog's ability to keep his head above water. The longer the belly straps, the worse they are as they twist and end up underneath the dog.

Asta in her own "Paws Aboard" life vest.
Also, be sure to keep the life jacket in a place where you know where it is at all times and is easily accessible – for example, the back of the cabin door.  If there is a real emergency, you want to grab your dog, grab her life vest, grab your life vest and run!

Note:  Some cruise lines provide life vests for your dog, including Cunard, Princess and Carnival.  The Cunard vest (not shown) was a bit too small for Asta, but adequate.  If you can bring your own, so much the better, but these cruise lines are doing a good thing by providing a life vest for your service dog!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cruising with your Service Dog - Do Dogs Get Seasick?

Seasickness.  While surfing the web regarding the weather to expect on a cruise from Los Angeles to Hawaii, I learned that the seas can be choppy, and some people suffer from seasickness.  I suspect this may occur on many seas, including cross Atlantic treks.  And yes, dogs can suffer from seasickness too.  (You’ve heard the expression “sick as a dog”). Ginger is said to be helpful to dogs (and people), if you'd like to try a natural approach before turning to drugs.  Talk to your vet about Bonine and Dramamine, but these may be helpful alternatives, too.  My vet suggested Benadryl. This is good as a mild sedative during the airline flight, too.  (See earlier my post:  Noise and Calming your Dog.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bringing Food for your Service Dog

Food.  Providing your dog with his customary food is critical to you and your dog having a successful trip.  The environment on the ship is very different from “home,” and so as many things as you can keep constant, the better.  Also, smaller dogs, especially, are notorious for having more delicate stomachs, and transitioning food can (and should) be time-consuming.  Don’t change your dog’s diet on your trip if you can avoid it at all! 
With the growth of health consciousness for dogs, many owners have drifted towards fresh or frozen diets (that may include raw diets).  Asta is one of those.  For a day or two, a Ziploc baggy with her dinners is fine.  For a 13-day cruise, the food won’t last – even in the refrigerator!  You don't want your dog to get sick on "spoiled" food. Check with your cruise line if they can accommodate periodic access to a freezer.  One cruiser noted that it was most unlikely that any personal dog food would be allowed in the ship’s freezers.  Cunard graciously accommodated our request – the Executive Chef personally approved a bit of room in a freezer for Asta’s food. If you are fortunate enough to get such an accommodation, do minimize the bulk to go into the freezer, and be sure to mark everything clearly with your name and stateroom number!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cunard - A Dog-Friendly History

Cunard in particular has a long history with dogs aboard.  Think back to the movie Shall We Dance with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers, where Fred’s character woos Ginger in the dog kennel area as they travel across the Atlantic to New York aboard the same ship.  Cunard is the only major cruise line that allows non-service dogs aboard on their Atlantic crossings, in a dedicated kennel area overseen by a trained kennel master. 
Perhaps because of their experience, Cunard is very understanding about bringing your service dog on board, but they also set clear rules.  Therapy dogs are not allowed as service dogs – meaning dogs who provide emotional support are not allowed, whereas those that provide assistance for a physical disability are.  They also allow a maximum of 30 service dogs on board the Queen Victoria.
So, here is what Cunard requires to get your service dog on board:
At the time of booking:
·         Letter from Your Doctor Regarding How your dog supports your Medical Disability (see my earlier blog post: Health Certificates and Other Required Documentation)
·         Cunard Agreement signed and returned regarding your responsibilities with regard to your service dog.
7 days in advance of sailing:
·         Certification by your dog’s veterinarian of vaccinations and overall health.  Note that my cruise required USDA Form 7001 at the last minute!  So be sure to ASK! (See my earlier Blog Post: Another Form:  USDA Health Form)
Here is what they will provide:
·         You can ship ahead a box with your dog’s necessities (food etc) only, if arranged in advance
·         A dog-potty relief area: a 4x6 box filled with Cedar Mulch (or similar material)
·         Allowance for a compact bag of dog food to be frozen in the ship’s freezer’s if arranged in advance

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Another Form! USDA Health Form 7001

Three business days before we were supposed to embark on our cruise, the cruise line, Cunard, drops another last minute requirement on me.  Ugh!  Now what?
Early on, we were informed that we needed to fax a health certificate for Asta signed by the veterinarian, showing her recent vaccinations and health status.  That was done.  When I hadn’t received confirmation from the cruise line that Asta was “set” to come on board, I finally got through (with my travel agent’s help) after 2 days. 
They also now wanted the USDA Form 7001 signed by Asta’s veterinarian.  No joke.
Basically, the USDA Form 7001 is a restatement of all the information found on the normal veterinarian’s health certificate, but on a government form:  USDA Form 7001.  I called the USDA to find out the procedure.  I have to say, “Mike” at the USDA, was super-nice and helpful!  He said that if my veterinarian is accredited by the USDA (and she is), she would need to fill out the form and sign it. 

Some travel carriers (airlines and cruise lines) do not require this form at all.  Some do.  Check with your carrier early!  Of those that do, some only require the form be signed by your accredited veterinarian.  Some travel carriers (airlines and cruise lines) only require the form be signed by your accredited veterinarian.  That is the case with Cunard.  However, some also require that the form be endorsed by the USDA! 

To receive endorsement by the USDA, the original form needs to be delivered to the central USDA office in your state - in California, with a $37.00 check (or credit card fee).  They will endorse this and return the original to you if you include a return envelope.  If you need your paperwork returned sooner (which most people do), include a pre-addressed FedEx overnight envelope with your paperwork.  The USDA typically will stamp documents on the same day or the following day after they receive them.
Give yourself enough time for this procedure!  The USDA certificate needs to be signed by your vet within 30 days of travel, and the USDA endorsement needs to be fit in after that.
Here’s a picture of the form, and a link to this important agency.

For other travel requirements, see my earlier blog post: Health Certificates and Other Required Documentation

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cruising Necessities - Dog Potty!

Dog Potty.  This is, of course, one of the most important tasks to sort out with the cruise line. 
Cruise Provisions.  Each cruise will provide some facility for your service dog to “go” in.  While I’ve attempted to gather relevant information from across different websites, you should check directly with your cruise line, as things do change. 
Here are some notes on various cruise lines, thanks to the Cruise Critic message board:
·         Celebrity uses a 4x4 wooden box (sturdily built) and filled with cyprus mulch. They placed it on deck 4 (starboard, forward), where the public does not go (unless it's an Alaskan cruise.)
·         Princess uses a 4x6 sturdy box (sturdily built) filled with cyprus mulch. They place the box in variable locations, but typically close to your cabin.  They may place the box on a deck that used by smokers who drop their cigarette butts in the box. You should request that it be moved.
·         NCL uses a 4x4 wooden box (sturdily built), with a plastic liner and wood chips (the kind you see in gardens). It is typically placed close to the cabin.  One cruiser noted that the box was place 20 feet from her cabin, in a laundry room that the crew used for washing their mops. It had the words "crew only" on the door and it was most convenient.
·         Holland America uses a 4x3 wood box (smaller than the rest), (sturdily built), with sod, (the kind used for lawns.) Be careful where it is placed! If on the "wrap around" deck, where people would do their jogging or walking, it may be a bit distracting for your dog.
·         Carnival uses a 4x4 wooden box filled with paper pellets.
·         Cunard 4x6 plastic box (sturdily built) with cyprus mulch on the bottom.
Cunard provided this nice dog potty!
Alternative Provisions.  In addition to what the cruise line provides, you may want to bring your own dog potty.  Especially, if your cruise is on the longer side, (over 10 days) you may want to consider bringing your own to put on your personal deck (if available).  Asta is trained to go on artificial grass here at home.  My mom lives in an apartment with a large balcony, so the dog potty stays outside, where she can go when she wants.  Put a disposable pee pad under the artificial grass, and clean up is easy!    Pup-Head makes a small 20" x 20" plastic tray with decent quality artificial grass - good for travel.  There are other smaller versions (such as Pee Wee Potty), but these are for really small dogs (under 7 pounds, I’d say), and the quality of the artificial grass and drainage aren’t as good.  As I mentioned, clean up is easy if you put a pee pad under the grass.  It is a good idea to hose it off every few days, if you can.

If your dog is trained to go on artificial grass, this is potty by Pup-Head
is a great alternative for a smaller dog!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Noise and Calming Your Dog

Some dogs are very sensitive to noises, and flying is particularly difficult.  For Asta, she would shake the whole flight.  Of the four ideas below, I found for Asta that the Mutt-Muffs helped a lot!  The benadryl took the edge off her fear, too. 
Here are few ideas that may work for you. 
(1) Mutt-Muffs.  In airplanes, there is a constant droning noise that can be a very irritating sound for dogs.  Mutt Muffs were designed by private aviators for dogs who fly with their owners.  In a commercial aircraft, the noise is definitely less, but still loud. You may be sceptical a rambunctious pup - or even subdued fuzz-ball like Asta - would tolerate these over her ears, and you may be right....until the engines are fired up. After the introduction of the engine noise she let may let you fit them on her head and not touch them for the rest of the flight. One user of Mutt Muffs even noted that she has heard that these have been successfully used on cats!  For Asta, it is a choice:  funny things on her head, or unbearable noise!  
(2)  Benadryl.  If your veterinarian oks the use for your dog, the Benadryl will not knock your dog out, but certainly will calm her down.  Make sure you get benadryl only (not "benadryl allergy" or something else) - the active ingredients should include only diphenhydramine.  The rule of thumb is 1 mg MAX for each pound of weight for your dog (so, for a 12-lb dog, 12mg of benedryl.)  You should absolutely ask your vet about this, and you may want to try out a half dose to see how your dog reacts.

Note that if you need to have your dog alert during the flight for medical assistance, this may not be the route for you, or you may wish to go with a lower dose.
 D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) Collar.  Pheromone therapy has been effective in treating phobias and stress experienced by dogs.  For dog appeasing pheromone therapy, pheromones are taken in through the nasal passage of the dog to produce a calming effect on one part of the brain that is connected to the dog’s behavior and emotion.  Pheromone therapy has had mixed results in calming a dog on an airplane.   I can't say it really did much for Asta.
(3) Thundershirt.  This a proprietary light -weight dog jacket that when worn, applies a constant pressure around the dog’s body.  It applies a gentle, constant pressure has a terrific calming effect on many dogs, something like swaddling does for a baby. 

(4) 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Flying with your Service Dog

I address this here, as in order to get to your port of departure for your cruise, you probably will need to fly to get there.  Note that this information applies to United States airline carriers.  Non US airlines may have other standards.
Most airlines are very accommodating to service dogs.  If you're going to be sitting in regular coach, or first class, you can just arrive at the airport with your dog. 

The ACAA says that "Carriers must permit dog guides or other service animals with appropriate identification to accompany an individual with a disability on a flight. Identification may include cards or other documentation, presence of a harness or markings on a harness, tags, or the credible verbal assurance of the passenger using the animal." This means they can not demand an ID card if your dog is dressed in a harness, or cape, or if you tell them the dog is a service dog. However, if you have a psychiatric disability, the ACAA does allow airlines to ask for a letter from your doctor stating you have a disability and that you require the presence of a animal for your well-being. This is if you have an emotional support animal ONLY, not if you have a service dog, trained to mitigate your disability. The airlines do not have the right to know what your disability is.

That said, I recommend that you call the airline well in advance, and it's a good idea to call again the day before to reconfirm.  Make sure your service dog is noted on the reservation as accompanying you. There should be no extra charge for your service dog.  If she is big, some airlines will keep the seat next to you vacant, so your dog can lie down on the floor. 

Also, although you are not required to present documentaiton of your service dog, it may help avoid hassle if you have it ready when you check in (doctor's note, recent health certificate from your veterinarian (see my Blog Post: Health Certificates and Other Required Documentation), and Government issued Service Dog Tag (see my earlier Blog Post: Qualifying as a Service Dog).  Be sure to carry extra copies of all the documentation with you to present if requested.

People with disabilities have the right to pre-board the aircraft prior to all other passengers. Airlines typically begin boarding 30 minutes before the scheduled flight time. Therefore to pre-board and get settled with your service dog you should arrive at the gate no less than 40 minutes before flight time. You should inform the gate agent of your desire to pre-board and then stay near the gate so that you can be located for pre-boarding.

In passing through security checkpoints at airports, you must allow the airport personnel to either use a hand wand (if they have one) to pass over you, or to hand search you. This is for the safety of all persons in the airport, and even though you're disabled, you have to go through the same thing. Your dog is also supposed to be searched. If your dog is wearing detachable backpacks, remove them and put them through the X-Ray machine. If your dog has backpacks that can't be removed (without undressing the dog), request that the airport personnel do a hand check of your dog and his equipment.

Wheel Chair assistance.  Wheel chair assistance is amazingly wonderful.  Not only to you have someone to whiz you through security with your service dog, but you also have someone to help you keep track of your stuff as it goes through security screening. 
Travel Carrier.  If you do not have wheel chair assistance through the airport, a dog travel wheely can be a godsend. Even a 12 pound dog can get heavy after awhile if you have to carry her.   Your dog sits in the carrier, and you can whiz along without fear of someone stepping on her.  Some carriers double as car-seats and can be used as a back pack if needed.  I am partial to Snoozer, as well as the wonderful 4-wheeler, Tutto.
Buckle up and enjoy your flight!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Prejudice You May Face with your Service Dog

No matter where you go, there will be people who do not believe your dog is a service dog, or resent you having your dog with you.  This is especially true with smaller dogs who do not look like the traditional police seeing eye dog.  But be steadfast, your dog and you have as many rights as they do.  Interestingly, with a smaller service dog, my mom and she have suffered the most mean-spirited comments from the traditional looking service dog owners.  Who’d have thought! 
Other people may have a genuine issue with dogs.  One lady I met was deathly afraid of dogs (even a 12 pound shih tzu).  People do have allergies, too, so being sensitive to possible reasons why people may react negatively to your service dog is important.
Best approach in my view, do not respond to their negative comments, but affirm that your dog is a qualified service dog under the ADA.  Then, walk away.  You are not going to change their minds, and you certainly do not want to allow their negativity to affect you on your holiday, or have your dog pick up on the negative vibrations.  As my grandmother used to say, “Pick yourself up, flick off the dust from your cloak, and walk away.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Health Certificates and Other Required Documentation

Most cruise lines require similar information outlined in the earlier Blog Post “Qualifying as a Service Dog.”  All of the documentation outlined below should be carried with you, as well as sent ahead to the airline, cruise line and, if required, the governmental authority governing immigration of service dogs.
Letter from Your Doctor Regarding How your dog supports your Medical Disability. Service animals must be individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. According to the U.S Department of Justice a Service Animal is not an animal whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or promote emotional well-being. In order to bring your service animal onboard, you must submit a letter outlining what medical services your service animal provides you on a daily basis.  This should be written and signed by your medical doctor on your doctor's letterhead (not a presecrption pad).
Microchip. Many destinations require that your dog be microchipped.  See my earlier blog post on microchipping for more details.  Honestly, this is a really good idea if you are travelling, regardless of whether it is required.  It is the most helpful thing you can do to make sure if your dog gets separated from you, your dog is returned!
Current Vaccinations.  You must provide proof of current vaccinations.  Most veterinarians will provide a health certificate documenting that your dog’s vaccinations are all current and the dog is in good health generally.  The dog must have current rabies vaccination. (Documentation of the vaccination must include the product name, the lot or serial number, and the expiration date of the lot.)
Rabies Test.  Most cruise lines and other transportation companies do not require a rabies test, but some destinations do!  Specifically, Hawaii requires that prior to arrival the dog must have passed one OIE-FAVN test after 12 months of age, with a level of 0.5 I.U. rabies antibody or greater.  The laboratory will not perform the tests unless the microchip number accompanies the test request form. A passing test result is valid for three (3) years.  What they didn’t tell me, was that the test requires 25 days to complete!  I found out the hard way, that … for an extra fee… the test can be expedited, but still takes approximately 14 days for the expedited results.  (By the way, the test isn’t cheap!  Count on at least $200 for the test, and an extra $100 for expediting!) My strong recommendation is that this special test be performed at least three months in advance of your travel to allow enough time for test completion, and allow enough time, just in case something goes wrong with the test!
Flea and Tick Control.  While most destinations do not require this, some destinations (including Hawaii) do require certification by your veterinarian of your dog being treated with a long acting tick controller.  Hawaii requires a health certificate issued not more than 30 days prior to arrival, attesting that the dog was treated within 14 days of arrival with a product containing Fipronil or an equivalent long-acting product labeled to kill ticks.

USDA Form 7001. Some travel carriers (airlines and cruise lines) do not require this form at all.  Some do.  Check with your carrier early!  Of those that do, some only require the form be signed by your accredited veterinarian.  That is the case with Cunard.  However, some also require that the form be endorsed by the USDA!  To receive endorsement, the original form needs to be delivered to the central USDA office in your state - in California with a $37.00 check (or credit card fee).  They will endorse this and return the original to you if you include a return envelope.  My later blog post (Another Form:  USDA Health Form 7001) describes the procedure in more detail (my carrier requirede this form at the last minute!).
Your itinerary may include ports of call that have very specific and strict requirements that must be met, prior to your service animal being allowed off of the ship. Be sure you understand the requirements for a service animal to disembark in each port of call. Specific information on required documentation and immunizations for your service animal may be obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, local customs offices in the specific ports and from your service animal’s veterinarian. You may also wish to review the information on what is required for ports of call at PetTravel.com.  If you are on your way to Hawaii with your service dog, the requirements can be found at the government website here. Please also see my blog post:  Special Planning for Cruising to Hawaii.

Aloha!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Sure Your Dog Has Identification Tags!

Identifying your dog’s contact information is critical for travelers. Heaven forbid your dog should get separated from you, but if she does, you want to make sure she finds his way back to you.  Two things you can do: (1) microchip your dog, and (2) visible written contact information on a tag.
Microchip.  If your dog is travelling outside of your home state, many states and countries require that your dog be fitted with a microchip.  A microchip is a small rice grain-sized pellet injected just under the skin of the scruff of the neck.  It is read by a scanner – most veterinarians and Animal Shelter facilities have these scanners.  Note that the US and Europe have different standards for microchips.  Typical American microchips are AVID, Home Again, or Bayer ResQ. 
The International Standards Organization, or ISO, has approved and recommended a global standard for microchips consistent with the European standard, however most US scanners still only read the American chip and vice versa. So, if your dog has an American chip, it may not be readable in the UK, for example. Keep this in mind if you are crossing the pond (New York to Southampton, for example).

When Asta boarded our ship, the Chief Purser greeted us to check her microchip and paperwork.  The microchip scanner didn't work, though.  Fortunately, Asta was wearing her HomeAgain tag with her microchip number - I highly recommend your dog wear this tag when travelling!  You also may wish to consider carrying a microchip scanner with you - especially if you are travelling to areas with a different microchip standard.
Dog Tag.  Sounds like a no-brainer – dog tag worn by your dog at all times with your dog’s name and a phone number.  But when you are travelling, add a few more important pieces of information:  (1) Dog’s name (2) Owner’s name (3) Owner’s cell phone (4) Veterinarian telephone number (5) local contact number.  If you are on a cruise ship, be sure to add the ship’s name, ship telephone number, ship cruise number, and your state room.
Government issued Service Dog Tag.  If your city/county offers a formal service dog registrations (per my earlier Blog Post: Qualifying as a Service Dog) be sure to get this important tag.  Again, it is a government certification that your dog indeed qualifies as a service dog, and as such is a "short-hand" way of confirming your service dog's qualifications.
Commercial Service Dog Tag.  In addition to the government issued service dog tag, a number of websites offer a service dog tag that you can purchase.  These sites often to not require proof of qualification, and so are frowned upon by some service dog purists as inadequate to prevent abuse.  That said, if you have a legitimate service dog, these tags are handy.  My mom’s service dog has a tag that says “Service Dog” in big letters, her name and her photo, as well as the ADA statement on the back.  It is easy to see, easy to read, and therefore handy to dispel the doubts of people who may not believe your dog is a service dog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Qualifying as a Service Dog

Most businesses, including cruise lines and airlines, require proof of a dog’s vaccinations, and up-to-date certification of the dog’s medical health, as well as a note from the owner’s doctor certifying the general nature of the medical assistance that the dog provides to the owner.  Formal certification is not required under the American Disabilities Act, but it is helpful. 
Some cities (such as San Francisco and New York City) provide service dog or assistance dog licensing registration through Animal Care and Control.  The registration provides a simpler way -- a ‘short-hand’ way -- to show businesses that your dog is indeed a service dog (instead of pulling out a sheaf of papers with every new visit).  You will likely be required to show a letter from your doctor summarizing the medical service your dog performs for you, up-to-date vaccination and health records, and in some cases, formal training by a certified service dog trainer (although this is rare).
For more information, call your local Animal Care and Control on how to register.
San Francisco Animal Care and Control: General Info: (415) 554-6364

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Law

The Law.  Under the American Disabilities Act, people with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodation.  Under US law, it has been established that dogs who are trained to provide medical aid to their owners must be allowed to enter all public places and businesses as a reasonable accommodation for the disability.  The Americans With Disabilities Act defines service animals as such; "Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities – such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cruising with Your Service Dog

This blog post grew out of my own research planning a first cruise with my mom and her service dog Asta. Asta is a non-traditional looking service dog, a 12 pound shih tzu. In my efforts to be prepared and smooth the way for a wonderful vacation, I combed the web, lurked on the message boards, and researched products. I found lots of good information scattered all over the place, and some information lacking altogether. The below is a summary of some of the gems I have learned.

Note that many of the recommendations should be helpful to non-service dogs, too, but service dogs are my target audience. Also, when I provide recommendations for products, they tend to be holistic, if possible. As always, read, take it in, and decide for yourself what is best for you and your dog. I hope the information provided here is helpful to you.