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Traveling with a Maltese


Whether you are going close or far and getting there by plane, train, or automobile, if you are bringing your Maltese traveling with you, it's best to plan ahead.

One of the great elements about having a Maltese is that this is a very small toy sized dog that is a lot easier to take along than many of his larger counterparts.

But, some things may get in the way such as how to get from Point A to Point B safely. And, if your Maltese doesn't enjoy traveling, how to reach your destination while keeping your puppy or dog happy.

So, in this section we will cover:
  • Tips when driving
  • Tips when flying
  • Weighing the decision to take your Maltese with you or leave him at home

Traveling with Your Maltese by Car

There are 3 main issues of concern when taking a long car drive with a Maltese.

1) Safety. This is far too overlooked by owners. While it may seem easier to have your puppy or dog on your lap or sitting right beside you, if a Maltese is not in a proper canine car seat, this can have dire consequences. 

Some things to keep in mind:

Frequency of accidents: While no one believes that it will happen to them, accidents happen at an alarming rate. Just in the United States, there are over 16,000 vehicle accidents per day. This is an accident about every 5.4 seconds.

What happens to unrestrained dogs: The problem is that this is a tiny toy breed; So any sort of impact, even in a slow-moving accident, can cause very serious injury and even death. 

While there are many factors that come into play, a widely used calculation of accident outcomes is the general 'crash force' of anyone or anything that is not properly secured. And this is derived by multiplying weight times speed.

Therefore, in a crash with a car going just 35 mph, a 5 lb.unrestrained Maltese would be thrown with the force of a 175 lb. object. If the car were going 65 mph, this would increase to the dog being thrown as if he were a 325 lb. object.

How dogs that are free in cars impact accident rates: Having an unrestrained pet in the car is a major distraction for drivers. In a combined AAA and Kurgo survey of dog owners:

52% have pet their dog while driving
23% have used a hand or arm to hold a dog in place
19% have reached into the back seat to hold or handle their dog
17% allowed their dog to sit on their lap
13% gave out treats to their dog while driving

If you're wondering if just a moment of distracted driving is unsafe, the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety concluded that just 2 seconds of looking away from the road doubles the chances of an accident.
2) Comfort. This may be connected to motion sickness (next point), however some dogs have a fear of cars and/or find the experience to be uncomfortable to the point of resisting being placed in the car and/or displaying irritated behavior including excessive, repetitive barking

3) Car sickness. This is one of the most common issues seen when traveling with a Maltese and happens to both puppies and older dogs alike. This is due to the inner ear sensing movement, but the eyes not fully sending the correct signal to the brain (from the dog's perspective, the car is not necessarily moving since the interior is not moving). 

Dogs may experience dizziness, nausea, and may have episodes of vomiting. 

Car Travel  Tips

There are several things that you can do to make traveling by car much less stressful and even enjoyable for both you and your Maltese:

1) Place your Maltese in a properly sized canine car seat. The right type of car seat for Maltese puppies and dogs is a booster seat sized for toy and small breeds.

There are many benefits to this:
  • It allows a Maltese to be up high where he can have line-of-sight out of the front window; this is a huge factor in helping reduce motion sickness. 
  • It offers a stable seating method that stops a dog from swaying when the car turns and brakes; this is good for both a dislike of the car and for nausea. 
  • It keeps a Maltese closer to a cracked window; if a Maltese is down low on a seat the window will need to be opened quite a bit to allow enough fresh air to reach him, but that causes the problem of too much rushing wind.
So, in a booster seat, a puppy or dog will be able to feel a light wind with the window down just an inch or two.
  • It keeps a Maltese safe, and will greatly reduce the chances of bodily injury. 
2) Take frequent breaks. If you will be driving your Maltese for a long car ride (over an hour), it is recommended to take a break every 20 minutes. This should be done even if the puppy or dog seems fine. This is because you want to offer a break before an issue develops; all dog's have their breaking point.

Be sure to park somewhere safe and keep your Maltese on his leash. Allow him time to go to the bathroom, have a drink, be given a small treat, and to stretch his legs.

3) To help combat nausea, there are some natural remedies:
  • A light, dry snack - Some dogs do better just by being given a light dry dog treat 15 minutes before being placed in the car.
  • Sugar - While you do not want to give a lot of sugar to any dog, a small bit can work to keep the tummy calm. A small jelly bean is just about the right size. (Note:  never give any sort of candy that has chocolate OR sugar substitute; both of these are highly toxic to canines)
  • Calming supplements - There are some canine calming supplements, meant to help with motion sickness and other such things like fireworks. Some of these can cause drowsiness; we recommend the type that does not, as it is hard to predict how sleep-aids will affect a dog. 
If you do offer a calming supplement for car rides, look for a non-drowsy formula that is made in the USA and uses chamomile and L-theanine. 
Below are recommended safe, properly sized car seats and a great calming supplement (non-drowsy). Please note: No matter what a car seat shows, the internal buckle snap should be connected to a dog's harness, NOT a collar. 

If it is connected to the collar, this can cause neck injury. If your Maltese does not have a harness, consider the Lil Pals Mesh Comfort Harness for Puppies and Toy Breeds - Petite; this is sized very small to fit most Maltese puppies and dogs. 

If you do not see the images below, try a refresh. On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontally to see all 4 items. 
Next, we will cover traveling by plane

Traveling with Your Maltese by Airplane

Just one of the many wonderful reasons to have a Maltese puppy or dog is that due to his size, you can do lots of things that you simply cannot do with a larger dog.

And this includes bringing your Maltese in the airplane cabin with you if you will be flying somewhere.

However, do keep in mind that even so, your puppy or dog will essentially be treated as luggage. 

So, planning ahead will be vital for a comfortable and event-free flight. 

Airplane Travel Tips

1) Know the airline's rules. When you know which airline(s) you'd like to fly on, look at their detailed information regarding pets on board. You may also wish to call to confirm what you read or to have them clarify any questions that you may have.

Note that many airlines will have a pet carry-on fee. And most require a health certificate by a veterinarian that was completed within 10 days of your departure date. 

2) Be careful in choosing an airplane carry case. One of the most important elements will be the size of your Maltese's carry crate. 

It must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. If it does not fit there, your only two options will be to have your Maltese placed down in the luggage compartment under the plane (which can be deadly) or disembark and miss your flight. 

Therefore, you will want to look at the airline's pet crate size requirements and obtain a carry case that meets those to a tee; just a 1/2 inch too large may lead to it being rejected. 

3) Plan for bathroom needs. To save the other passengers from disturbing smells and keep your Maltese free from being confined in a small space with urine and feces, the best method of dealing with a dog that has to go to the bathroom while on an airplane is to place a canine diaper on the dog. 

This will keep everything contained. Once you land, you can wash your Maltese off or use a good amount of canine body or tushie wipes to clean him up.

4) Bring along items to keep him occupied. Dogs' ears can pop and hurt with air pressure changes just like human ears can, so bring along a tough treat that he can chew on during takeoff and landing. 

You'll also want to bring along some toys that will keep your Maltese busy, but without disturbing other passengers. 

Good options are treat-release toys that you have filled with a mixture of your dog's kibble and all-natural, smooth peanut butter, a 'silent squeaker' toy, and if your Maltese has a companion toy that he uses when home alone like the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy, have that in his crate as well. 
Before we continue, below are some recommended airplane travel crates and pet carrier bags, and toys that are appropriate for bringing onto airplanes. 

If you do not see the images, try a refresh. And for mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontally to see all 4 items. 
5) Bring water. You may opt for a travel bowl (a good option if you use the travel bag) or a bottle dispenser (a good option if you use the kennel-crate).

6) Combat motion sickness. Some vets will give owners a light sedative to give to their dog for airplane travel; however, this is not recommended unless your Maltese has a history of having severe problems while flying.

To date, most of these have not been tested at altitude; If there were to be an allergic reaction, being thousands of feet in the air is just about the worst place to be.

Similar to the above tips for car travel, a dry treat, a touch of sugar, or a safe calming supplement without medications are the best choices. 
7) If you have connecting flights, try to schedule them so that you have plenty of time in between to bring your Maltese outside for a nice walk, have a bite to eat and stretch his legs. You can also use this time to change the doggie diaper, should you use that method.

Deciding Whether to Bring your Maltese or Leave Him at Home

Lots of owners struggle with the decision of whether to take their Maltese with them on a long trip or leave them back at home. There is no easy answer. However, you will want to weigh two things:

1. Will your Maltese enjoy the destination and will you enjoy having him there? Consider if you will be going to a pet-friendly place, if you will have lots of time to spend with your puppy or dog, and if the days will be spent in ways that it will be easy to have a pet with you. 

If you will be doing lots of walking, you can always keep your Maltese in a carry sling like the i'Pet Hands-free Small Dog Carry Sling which keeps him right up by your side (many dogs love the rhythmic motion) or use a canine stroller like the OxGord 3 Wheeler Cat/Dog Elite Pet Stroller. But, if this means that one person in the party must always be left out while others are partaking in activities, this needs to be given some thought. 
2. Is there a good option if your Maltese stays at home? If your Maltese is very used to someone else (friend, family member, etc.) and has proven to feel comfortable at their house, or if someone volunteers to care for your puppy or dog at your own house while you are away, this is something to take into account. 

If, however, the only option would be placing your Maltese in a kennel, this may give you pause. There are some great doggie hotels that offer lots of attention and activities; but, these are not for every dog, and specifically not for those that are shy or have separation anxiety issues
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