I love to travel – and I wouldn’t travel without my family, so of course, I take my dog along with me!
And the only thing I love as much as traveling is knowing that my best friend is there by my side while I do it.
But let’s face it, traveling with a dog isn’t all cookies and cream. It can be difficult and stressful.
Even if your dog is the most well-behaved dog in the world, it’s an extra body that you need to care for and carry along.
So today I’m going to tell you some tips and tricks that help me when I travel with my furry friend.
What can you do to make traveling with your dog easier?
1. Planning Ahead
The key to a successful trip is preparation. Traveling with your dog is a lot more fun than traveling alone, but it’s also a lot more work.
However, if you can think and plan ahead, you can make your trip much less stressful.
Planning ahead may mean thinking of:
- where you are going to stay (because not all places accept dogs),
- determining what method of transportation will be best for your dog,
- predetermining rest stops,
- and looking at what routines will look once you arrive at your destination.
Today I’m going to help you prepare for your trip with your best friend by providing you with tips and tricks that I use personally when I travel.
Not only will we discuss how you can prepare for your trip, but we will also discuss what you should take with you on your trip, and how you can help your dog feel comfortable in a new environment.
When you book your own vacation, the steps are pretty simple – find a place you like, click “book”, and head out. But when you’re traveling with your pet, things are a little different.
A lot of hotels, and even bed and breakfasts, don’t allow for pets.
So if you plan to take your dog, you need to make sure that your lodging is pet-friendly.
If it is, you should also look into their policies. Some hotels charge an extra nightly fee for pets, so you’ll want to make sure that it fits your budget if applicable.
In addition to this, it might also be a good time to take your pet to the vet for a checkup.
Just as you wouldn’t travel if you were sick, you wouldn’t want your dog to travel sick either.
Traveling with a sick dog can not only make them sicker but can also lead to hefty vet bills and a vacation spent in at the veterinarian’s office.
While speaking with your vet, you should make it a point to tell them that you will be traveling with your dog.
They may ask where you are taking them to so that they can give them any vaccinations that may be relevant to the point of destination.
Of course, that’s not all there is to planning ahead. You’ll also want to think about how much time you’re going to spend away from your pet.
If you plan on leaving them in the hotel for long periods of time, it might be a better idea to leave them at home.
Alternatively, you could look for reputable pet sitters in your travel destination, but you should never leave your pet alone in a hotel for long periods of time.
Not only can it lead to the destruction of hotel property, but it can stress your dog out, and well, it’s simply not fair.
2. What Do You Need To Take With You?
When traveling with your dog, you will need to bring them their own luggage bag. In that bag you should include:
- A record of your dog’s health certificates. If you are traveling by plane, this will be a necessity, but even if you aren’t it’s always good to have this record handy in case your dog becomes ill on vacation and needs to see a vet.
- Your dog’s regular food, as well as bowls for food and water.
- The number of a veterinarian AND emergency veterinarian in the area you will be staying.
- A properly sized crate.
- A sturdy leash and collar that includes an identification tag for your dog. The ID tag should include the dog’s name, your name, and your phone number. It would also be beneficial to include information on this tag stating that your dog has their rabies vaccine.
- Plenty of toys to keep your dog entertained during travel.
- Don’t forget to take seat covers and blankets for your dog with you. By doing so, you will protect your car from muddy paws and your dog has something comfortable to sleep on during travels.
- Accidents may happen at any time. The best way to counter this is being prepared just in case they occur. When traveling with your dog, it is recommended that you carry a pet first-aid kit that includes gauze, bandages, and hydrogen peroxide for inducing vomit (if needed).
- Safety restraints will protect you and your pet in a collision and minimize injuries. They also prevent your dog from jumping out of a moving car as well as prevent you from getting distracted from your playful dog you while you are driving. Did you know that seat belts are required by law in some states?
3. Traveling By Plane
First off, let me state that unless it’s a necessity, I never recommend traveling with dogs on a plane.
Not only is it stressful for your dog, but it can also be harmful to their health.
Large dogs that need to travel in cargo spaces are subject to a variety of unpleasant conditions such as fluctuating temperatures, loud noises, and significant drops in air pressure.
As you can imagine, this is extremely stressful for a dog.
So stressful, in fact, that in 2011 over 35 dogs died from flying.
So unless it’s a necessity, I always recommend keeping your dog at home when flying.
With that being said, here are some tips if keeping them at home is not an option:
- Take your dog to the vet before flying to make sure that they are physically healthy enough to do so.
- Check your airline’s rules and regulations to ensure you have everything you need to travel with your dog
- Prepare the crate. If you are taking your dog on the flight with you, the crate should be small enough to fit comfortably under your seat. Cargo crates should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, and turn around in. Consider writing your name, pet’s name, and phone number on the crate in case of emergency. If they aren’t already comfortable with their carrier, you may want to spend a few weeks beforehand adapting them to being inside.
- Make sure your pet is exhausted before the flight. Give them lots of exercise in the days leading up to the flight.
- Avoid feeding your dog 12-24 hours before the flight, and take them on a long walk before entering the airport. This will make it less likely that they will have to relieve themselves on the plane.
4. Traveling By Car
If you’re going to travel with your dog, the best way to do it is by car.
With that being said, there is still some planning that comes along with a road trip.
Here are some tips for taking your dog on a trip via car:
- If your dog isn’t used to traveling in the car, make sure you adapt them to it beforehand. You should start this process several weeks before you leave, and this should hold true whether they are being crated or roaming freely.
- Don’t forget to pack your essentials (dog bowls, water, food, toys, poop bags, ID tags, vaccination forms, etc.)
- Avoid feeding your dog before long drives
- Plan ahead for regular pee breaks. If you can teach your dog to eliminate on cue, this will make stop breaks much quicker and easier on you!
- Don’t forget the leash!
- If your dog is prone to car sickness, speak to your veterinarian beforehand as there are meds that they can give you to reduce symptoms.
- Keep your dog well hydrated throughout the drive
- Never leave your dog in a hot car unattended. It only takes a few minutes for your dog to go into complete panic, and for disaster to strike.
5. Traveling By Boat
Again, I don’t recommend traveling with your dog via boat.
While boats are safer for dogs than planes, they can still, like humans, become extremely ill from seasickness.
With that being said, here are some tips if you are to take your dog boating with you:
- If your dog is not used to boating, adapt them slowly by letting them get a feel for the boat while it is docked.
- If you can, start your dog off with small boat trips before taking them on longer ones.
- Like people, any pet traveling by boat should have their own floatation device. Make sure it is properly fitted before heading out on the water, and try to get your dog used to the feeling of having it on. In case of emergency, this could save your dog’s life.
- Provide plenty of shade and water for your dog – Dogs are prone to sunburn, especially around their ears, paws, and nose. There are special sunscreens that are made specifically for dogs, so ask your vet if you can get some. In addition, be sure to provide your dog with plenty of shade and water to prevent overheating or dehydration.
- Call ahead before docking. Not all docks and boat launches welcome pets, so you will want to make sure your destination is pet-friendly before landing.
- Avoid feeding your dog before heading out on a boat. This will help to prevent seasickness. If you foresee seasickness as being an issue, you can also speak to your vet about medications that may be able to help.
6. Arriving At Your Destination
You’ve finally made it to your destination! Now what?
Now it’s time to help your dog feel as comfortable as possible in their new home.
Remember, just because you know you are on vacation, doesn’t mean your dog does.
And while some dogs will have the time of their lives, others could get very stressed out.
Here’s how to help them feel comfortable:
- Try to maintain a routine – dogs thrive on routine, and to make them feel comfortable you should do your best to maintain as much of a regular routine as possible.
- Avoid leaving your pet at your hotel for long periods of time. No one wants to be alone, including your dog. So if you are doing long excursions or tours, either take your furry friend with you or look for a pet sitter in the area.
- Always have the number of a nearby veterinarian on hand just in case of emergency.
- Give your dog plenty of toys to entertain themselves while you are away. If you know them to chew, you may want to crate them while you are out. But if you choose not to crate, make sure they have plenty to keep themselves entertained. When dogs are stressed, they often chew things, and being in a new and unfamiliar environment can trigger stress. Make sure they have a bone or ball to chew on as opposed to a wall.
- Make sure hotel staff know you have a dog in your room. Not all people like dogs, so this will prevent anyone with a fear from unknowingly walking in on your pet.
- Give your pet lots of love and affection – as always.
And as a final piece of advice – just have fun! Taking your dog on an adventure with you should exciting and enjoyable, not stressful.
And if you plan well beforehand, you should be able to avoid most of the stress and just enjoy your time away with your best friend!
Should I Sedate My Dog On An Airplane?
As I mentioned before, I never recommend taking your dog on a plane, but if you have to, the answer is no – do not sedate them.
While there are pills and medications available for this purpose, they can greatly increase your dog’s risk of heart and respiratory problems on the plane.
Even if your pet seems excited during loading, once they are in cargo where it is dark, cold, and loud, there is a good chance that they will become stressed out.
Sedatives can enhance this effect and put your dog at an increased risk of serious illness or even death.
Unless there is an unusual circumstance and it is recommended by your vet, stay away from sedatives.
Does My Dog Need A Passport To Cross Borders?
The term “pet passport” actually originated in the European Union wherein dogs and cats needed an actual passport to travel freely from one EU country to another.
And while this is still necessary to do so in the EU, most countries don’t require you to have an actual passport for your pet.
With that being said, you will need documents from your vet supporting any pertinent information that is necessary for travel.
Required information will vary depending on what country you are traveling to, but may include things like vaccination records, proof of good health, rabies certificates, and related forms.
These forms and required documents will need to be shown at customs when crossing the border. Speak to your vet if you aren’t sure exactly what you need.
Are There Any Special Considerations I Should Make For Traveling With A Puppy?
Of course. Adult dogs require a great deal of attention and care when traveling, but puppies require even more.
Remember, puppies are completely new to this world, so just as you would need to give special care to a baby on a plane, you also need to give special care to a puppy.
My first piece of advice, as you have probably already guessed I am going to say, is never put a puppy in cargo – it will terrify them and put their health at serious risk.
Avoid traveling on a plane altogether, but if you have to, make sure the puppy is under your seat.
Whether traveling by plane, train, or automobile, puppies will also require extra puppy pads in case of an accident, as well as wipes and clean up pads for any messes.
If you are crating your puppy during travel, it’s also recommended that you provide them with a small piece of your clothing – a sock, a t-shirt, or something similar.
This will allow them to pick up on your scent, and give them a sense of comfort.