The Complete Guide to Traveling with Dogs
If your dog is a key part of your family, then chances are when it comes to vacation time, you won’t want to leave him at home. So, instead of putting him into a boarding kennel while you go off traveling, why not make your pet your new travel buddy and let him share in all those adventures? With a little prep and planning, there’s no reason why travels with your canine best bud can’t be a smooth ride. So, put those travel brochures down and settle back with your latest must-read: Dog Gear’s How to Travel with a Dog: The Complete Guide.
Planning For The Trip
Before you even start buying your sunscreen, it’s essential to do your preparatory homework if you are planning to take your canine family member on your travels. Prep ensures you have all the bases covered so that your trip with your furry bud is not only a blast but safe and stress-free. Even if it’s a short weekend break, a little planning will go a long way, so depending on the duration and destination, it’s a good idea to work through the following dog travel tips:
Book a vet check: You need to be sure your pet is fit and well enough for traveling, especially if he has existing health conditions, is on the more senior side or if you’re planning to travel with puppies. Make an appointment with your veterinarian in plenty of time before you set off so they can do a general health check to ensure your pooch is fit to travel. They can also advise you on any vaccinations your pet may need and provide you will an up-to-date record of his shots, so you have proof if needed while traveling. You will also need a health certificate for your dog if you are flying.
Explore any health risks: As well as getting a vet check, it’s a good idea to research any health risks to your dog that may be in the area or country you are planning to travel to. Some countries have higher incidents of parasites such as tapeworm or canine diseases such as rabies or kennel cough. Knowing the area’s regulations and any exceptions with regard to dogs is also a good idea. Ask your vet for advice if you are concerned so you can take the necessary precautions.
Sort out your dog’s ID: You need to ensure your dog is traceable, should they get lost on your travels so make sure they can be easily identified. If they’re not already, get them microchipped and ensure your contact details on the microchip are all up to date. A sturdy and secure collar with an identification tag is also a travel essential.
Ensure your accommodation is ‘pet-friendly’: You may love the look of the hotel or campsite but if they don’t welcome animals, it will put a dampener on your trip, especially if you only find out when you get there. Ensure you check in advance that can bring your dog before you book and get the full lowdown on any pet restrictions there may be in your accommodation.
The Dog Gear You’ll Need
Planning what to pack for your pet when you travel is going to make all the difference to how much fun the pair of you will have along the way. The key is taking everything you need while not taking too much. To help, here’s our checklist of essential dog travel gear:
- Leash and collar: You will need a method of securing and controlling your dog at all times, so invest in a dog leash and a dog collar set that’s durable and travel-fit. If your dog is a service animal, make sure they are equipped with a service vest as well to help with identification.
- A travel crate: A good, sturdy crate or quality travel pet carrier that’s sized for your dog is going to make all the difference. It will keep them safe in the car and will be needed if your trip requires air travel – just ensure any crate or carrier is IATA approved.
- Food and water: To keep your dog well-fed and happy on their travels, pack a travel bowl for their food and water. A dog travel bottle is also a handy addition for hydration on the go. If you can, bring all the food your dog will need for the trip and pack a bag or two of his favorite tasty treats to keep him rewarded for good behavior.
- Poop bags: So that you can always pick up after your pooch, a supply of dog poop bags is essential, biodegradable if possible, so you leave nothing behind!
- Medication: As well as any medication he needs, dog-friendly remedies to help stop motion sickness and diarrhea are a good idea.
- Some home comforts: To make sure your pet doesn’t get bored or restless, a few of his toys can make a difference to his traveling experience. And pop in his favorite blanket for his crate to stave off any home sickness!
- First Aid Kit: A basic animal first aid kit in your bag is always a good idea, as is a pack of wet wipes to clean up any doggy mess.
Related Post: Best Travel Crate For Dogs
Before You Set Off
You’ve been counting down the days to your vacation and the departure day is almost here, so now’s the time to bring your plans together. At this point it’s the little details that could de-rail your travel plans with your pooch so make sure you:
Put together your dog’s ‘travel information pack’: Having all your dog’s essential information to hand is invaluable, especially on a longer or overseas trip. An effective travel pack for your dog should include his microchip information and several up to date photos of him (making sure they include any distinguishing marks) in case he goes AWOL. Also ensure you have his health record, which includes details of his up to date vaccinations.
Do a few dry runs: Especially if you are heading off on a road trip and expect your pup to stay contained in the car or his crate for long periods of time, it’s a good idea to build up his tolerance to reduce any stress.
Work out his toilet breaks: As you could be in a host of different locations, it’s worth planning for several scenarios so that you can ensure your pet gets to do his business, wherever you are. If your pooch can be comfortable doing potty on different terrains, as well as grass, traveling with a dog will be so much easier!
Flying With Dogs
Most airlines require a certificate of health for your pet around 10 days before you travel and that any crate or pet carriers are approved for flight. To fly with your pet, you also need to be confident he is up to the experience as anxious dogs may find it too stressful. It’s a good idea to take your dog for a nice long walk before you set off for the airport so he can stretch his legs and work off some of that doggy energy before getting on the plane.
Some airlines won’t let your dog travel in the cabin with you, so if this is the case go prepared for the separation period during the flight. Provide a feeding schedule and any other relevant information about your dog, such as his health records, when at the airline check in, so you know he is being well cared for.
Traveling by Car
As long as your pet is comfortable in a car, your road trip should be plain sailing. Here are our essential tips for longer car rides:
- Make sure he is well secured – whether that’s via a safety harness or safe within his pet crate
- Keep the car well-ventilated so he can keep his cool in the heat
- If he’s prone to motion sickness, let him travel on an empty stomach
- Ensure he has access to plenty of clean, fresh water
- Include regular stops for potty breaks and a chance to stretch the legs
- Make his space comfortable, with a soft blanket and a few toys to keep him occupied
- Use car sunshades in hot weather and never leave dogs unaccompanied in your car.
Buses and Trains
If you plan to take your dog on a bus or train during your journey, do your research first as you could otherwise fall foul of travel restrictions. Many bus and train services have a maximum size for dogs, as larger dog breeds can be considered as ‘cargo’ and many will also insist on them being in a pet carrier. Other companies simply won’t let dogs, other than service dogs, on board at all.
Dealing With Pet Travel Emergencies
The best way to travel with a dog is to be prepared to deal with the unexpected! Despite your travel prep and best intentions, our four-legged friends can find themselves in all sorts of scrapes which you need to be ready to sort out so you can get your trip back on track. From minimizing their anxiety when staying in a new place to keeping to a regular schedule when it comes to food and toilet time, dog owners can reduce the risk of a canine meltdown while on a trip or vacation. And our final top tip when traveling with your pooch is to find the number of the nearest 24-hour veterinary center so should your dog get injured or have a medical emergency, you can get the help you need pronto.