How to Travel with Dogs

Healthy Partner how to travel with dogs

Pets can make great travel companions when you know what to plan for during the trip. From airline restrictions to car sickness, pet travel can be complicated. Let us help you avoid extra challenges with our travel tips for dogs.

Airplane Travel with Dogs

Before booking your ticket on a flight, consider whether airline travel will be a good fit for your dog. Small pets can be stowed under your seat, but larger pets need to be boarded as cargo. If you decide to fly, follow the tips below along with contacting the airline:

  • Book direct flights: Beware of layovers when traveling with dogs. The safety concern is that your pet might be exposed to extreme weather conditions and potential mishandling by baggage personnel on the tarmac. The simple solution is to book a direct flight. However, even direct flights can have delays, leaving your pet on the tarmac. Be prepared to deboard the plane for your pet’s safety, potentially missing the flight.
  • Get a health certificate: Visit a veterinarian within 10 days of departure for an up-to-date health certificate that proves your dog is current on vaccinations, especially if you are traveling out of the country. Some countries may have different requirements, which can be learned through contacting the foreign office before leaving.
  • Purchase a USDA approved crate: Once purchased, line the crate with soft, absorbent bedding. Tuck in your dog’s favorite blanket or toy to help him feel more comfortable. Another tip is to freeze a small dish of water the night before and include it in the crate. It should slowly melt and give your dog the hydration he will need while traveling.
  • Label the crate: There is critical information that you want to share with those handling your dog crate, such as how to reach you in an emergency or where the dog is headed. Tag the crate with a label saying that a live animal is inside. Also include your cell phone number, your destination, and a photo of your pet.
  • Fast before travel: No one wants to clean up messes in the dog crate. Help your dog avoid motion sickness and other messes by fasting 6 hours before the trip. Before crating your pet, take him for a long walk. Don’t let him start the trip with a full bladder or stomach; however, do allow him access to water.

Road Trips with Dogs

The secret to a successful road trip with man’s best friend seems to be in the planning. Once you hit the road, help your dog stay calm with regular exercise stops. Then when challenges do pop up, stay calm and remember that your dog feels your energy. And take these steps before you leave:

  • Find a hotel before you arrive: Not all hotels allow pets, and the pet-friendly options may have specific requirements. Call ahead to make a reservation to avoid surprises. Once you arrive at the hotel, exercise your dog with a long walk, run, or game of fetch. After he’s stretched his legs, his behavior should be more ideal for encountering other hotel guests. If your pet does bark, remember to stay calm; your manner will be felt by your pet.
  • Take a practice drive: If your dog is new to road trips, start with a several short drives a month before you leave. Increase the time on each drive to build up your pet’s tolerance for time spent in the car.
  • Use a pet carrier: Its tempting to let Fido sit in the passenger seat next to you, but its a distraction for the driver and not safe for your dog. Instead, get them comfortable in a well-ventilated crate or carrier.
  • Make a pet travel kit: Include favorite toys, dog food and bowl, healthy pet snacks, water bowl, leash, blanket, and vet records.
  • Worried about car sickness: Avoid car sickness by not feeding your dog for several hours before traveling. Let him drink small amounts of water to stay cool and dehydrated. And make sure he is getting plenty of air.

Happy Travels!

Article written by Melissa Wheeler, a writer and pet enthusiast who has a 10-year-old Whippet, named Leo, who loves to run, sneak food, and cuddle with his family.