Top Tips on How to Travel Safe and Happily With Your Dog

Yay!  Warm weather is here, which means it is the perfect time to travel with your most favorite companion. We love to travel with our pets, but traveling with your dog is nothing like traveling with people.  There are many things you need to consider in order to keep your dog safe and happy.

It’s definitely not as simple as putting your dog in the vehicle and hitting the highway, or placing them in a crate and traveling by air. It takes careful consideration and planning to ensure your dog’s safety and well-being during the journey, as well as, at your destination.

To be a good doggy parent there are several things you need to do for your dog – and it’s easy to inadvertently overlook or forget important things.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you with a simple-to-understand guide on what you need to know and do. Here are some general tips, and as we get deeper into the article below you, were going to provide you with a complete pre-travel checklist for your dog. (for you to check off, not your dog… just in case you didn’t know, haha)

Get a Checkup on Your Pet’s Health

It may seem like an extra hassle, but it’s not a bad idea to take your pet to the vet before taking an extended vacation or trip. If you are going to be traveling by air with your pet – it’s mandatory – airlines will require a health certificate from your vet, you may also need to show proof of vaccinations. Therefore, a visit to your vet will be a necessity.

Prep for Traveling by Automobile

Before you plan a road trip, you need to consider whether your dog has never traveled much by auto before. If your pooch doesn’t have road experience, it’s a bad idea to just pop your pup in the car and go. You need to start conditioning your dog to travel by auto ahead of time.

Dog meet car – car meet dog

First, get your dog used to being in the car itself – without moving. This is simple to do, place the dog in the car and let the dog sit while the car is in the driveway, (you definitely should sit in the car, too). An enticing treat or favorite toy can go a long way here for positive association and reinforcement.

Then, as your dog shows a comfort level, take short trips to acclimate your dog to car travel.

I used to take my dog with trips to certain drive-through restaurants or my local bank, which always handed out treats to dogs. As you can guess, my dog was always excessively eager to go on a car ride with me.

Car sickness:

But before we put too much emphasis on treats, you need to determine if your dog gets car sickness. So don’t give your dog too much food or treats on the first go-round.

To avoid car sickness, it’s best to have your dog travel on an empty stomach food-wise. Your dog definitely needs to have plenty of water available though.

Ventilation:

It’s best to do your dog-car training during cool conditions if you can. As far as traveling with your dog in the car overall, be sure to keep your car well-ventilated, especially if your dog is in a crate. Do not leave your dog in a closed car when it is hot outside.

Even with the windows down, the temperature inside your car could be excessively warm and dangerous for your dog.

Windows:

Even though your dog might love to stick its head out the window, there is a risk of eye injury from collisions with bugs or other items. It’s best to do your dog-car training on streets with less traffic and slower speed limits.

When going on long trips, it’s a bad idea to let your dog stick its head out the window at high speeds, such as when traveling on the interstate or highways with speed limits above 40 miles per hour.

Stops:

When making long trips, be sure to make frequent stops for your dog to have potty breaks and exercise. Once every two hours is a good rule of thumb. Again, make sure you have water available to hydrate your dog every time you make a stop.

Air travel with your dog

Traveling by air with your dog has a long list of considerations. Further, different airlines have different rules. Your destination, connecting flight or not, time of travel, weather, dog breed, dog size and more all come into play.

Depending on your breed of dog and where you’re going, air travel with your dog may not even be possible. This is sometimes a consideration with moving, where it becomes necessary to drive with your dogs because of the limitations on dogs with air travel.

Be sure to check all the rules and regulations with the airline you plan to fly your dog with before deciding to purchase a ticket. You may find that you need to check with various airlines until you find the one that is the right fit for your particular scenario.

If you want to fly with your dog, it’s not about the best price deal you can get on a flight in this situation, but rather which one is right for you and your dog. It may cost more, but isn’t your dog worth it?

Other airline concerns:

Some airlines will store animal crates in temperature-controlled areas, but others do not. The airlines that do not may also have restrictions on ground temperatures at your departing and arriving airports. You may not be able to fly your pet if the temperatures aren’t in this range on the day of your flight.

Some airlines restrict certain types of dog breeds from flying as checked luggage, especially snub-nosed dogs of any mix.

Some airlines do not allow pets to travel in-cabin on international flights or an itinerary that includes an international flight. There are exceptions for trained assistance or emotional support animals.

If you are traveling on a connecting flight, and you are checking your pet in a crate, certain airlines limit this to connections only in specific and limited US cities. Make sure you thoroughly check this with the airlines before finalizing your flight plans.

Crates for air travel

Most airlines require that your dog’s crate be large enough for the dog to fully stand, turn around and lie down in. They may also require that you provide fastened water bowls or water feeders in the crate.

In addition, airlines now require that pet crates have bolts with nuts fastening the top and lower sections together. Older crates used plastic fasteners, these are no longer acceptable by the airlines. Replacement fastener kits are inexpensive and easily found online.

Airlines also require “live animal” labels, with the arrows pointing upright, as well as, a label with the owner’s name address and telephone number.

Here are some other tips for crates:

  • Should have ventilation on both sides.
  • Should have a leak-proof bottom that is covered with liquid-absorbing material.
  • Create should contain a comfortable pad your dog to rest on, a water bottle and your dog’s favorite toy.

Crate travel and dog size

Keep in mind that depending on the airline of your choice, some airlines only allow in-cabin travel for pets, and do not offer to check your dog as luggage in a pet crate. In-cabin travel is typically limited to smaller dogs that can fit in small pet carriers that are able to be stowed under the seat. Obviously, this means you cannot travel with larger dogs on these airlines.

Dog Travel Checklist

Here is a list of things to bring with you and prepare before taking a trip with your dog:

  • Phone numbers of vets and emergency vets near your vacation or travel spot.
  • Up-to-date documents from your vet.
  • Tags for your dog with your current contact info.
  • Medication your dog needs
  • Food and water bowls
  • Food and treats
  • Leash
  • Crate
  • Doggy bags
  • Your dog’s favorite toy and blanket
  • Dog brush
  • Dog shampoo and a towel
  • Water (in case of an emergency situation where you can’t get to a store or faucet)