How to Travel With a Dog: 10 Tips

How to Travel With a Dog

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Dogs are part of the family, so you might daydream of taking yours on an adventure. If you can’t wait to travel with your dog, learn how to do it safely by reading these tips. You’ll think of everything they might need while you’re away from home so everyone has an incredible time during your upcoming trip.

1. Get the Necessary Paperwork Ready

You wouldn’t travel anywhere without your driver’s license or passport. Your dog has a few things they might to bring too. If you’re traveling by plane, check your airline’s pet rules. They nearly always require proof of your dog’s updated rabies vaccination and a certificate of health signed by your vet within 10 days of your departure date.

Your hotel or rental property may require the same proof of health. It’s always best to carry them with you on any trip, regardless of how you travel. However, check with your airline for specific requirements, as they change per carrier.

2. Schedule Required Boosters

Contact your vet a few weeks before your trip to discuss if your dog is behind on their vaccinations. They’ll know which boosters your dog might need, like bordetella or rabies. You can even add the cost of potential vaccinations to your travel budget to prepare for an appointment if the vet deems one necessary.

3. Consider a Carseat

Dogs travel in cars daily, but your vehicle may need simple modifications to keep your pup safe. Smaller dogs can easily fit into a car seat that keeps them buckled into place. They’ll be able to lie down or sit up throughout your drive.

Bigger dogs can use harnesses that attach to the seat for the same purpose. Place either of these travel options in the backseat to keep the front clear of distractions. You’ll drive more safely and your pup will have more room to spread out for naps.

4. Scoop Extra Food

People can grab food almost anywhere when hunger strikes. Your dog is much more limited. You’ll want to pack a few extra scoops of kibble or cans of food in case something goes wrong. If you’re hiking along the 500 miles of trails in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park and your backpack gets soaked, your dog will lose the meal you prepped for your hike.

You might not always be near pet stores for an emergency refill. Bringing extra food is crucial in case of accidents or flight delays. It’s especially important to consider for dogs who need prescription food, as it’s nearly impossible to grab a bag from a pet store that’s never filled your pup’s prescription before.

5. Avoid Rolling Windows Completely Down

Opening the windows and letting your dog stick their head in the highway breeze is tempting. Let them have some fun, but only with partially rolled-down windows. Otherwise, your dog might fall out of the window if they aren’t wearing a harness or get hurt by a tree branch growing too close to the road.

6. Plan Your Rest Stops

The average dog typically needs to relieve themselves three to five times daily or every four to eight hours. However, your dog must stop for a potty break more often if they’re drinking water, eating or getting overly excited.

Plan rest stops throughout your trip to align with your dog’s bathroom schedule. If they’ve had all of their puppy shots, they could get out of the car at places like:

  • Pet-friendly rest stops
  • Gas stations
  • Fast food restaurants

Remember — you’ll need to pickup any waste they leave behind and dispose of it to take care of your pup properly. No one wants to smell or step on dog poop while exiting a restaurant or crossing the parking lot at a rest stop.

If you’re traveling by plane, your dog has a few options for relieving themselves. You can bring potty pads and have them go on the pad inside restroom stalls. That’s the best option for pups already trained to relieve themselves on pads.

Airports also have pet-designated grassy areas. You can find them on virtual or in-person maps within any airport. Once you’ve passed through security, look for in-terminal pet relief areas. Most major airports have them for service animals.

7. Create an Emergency Kit

Even the most well-planned trips sometimes include a few unexpected moments. While you and your dog are on the highway, they might get car sick. Anxiety could also make them extra thirsty or destructive.

An emergency kit can contain solutions for nearly every situation. Keep an extra towel to clean vomit or potty messes, plus disposable gloves in case you’re not near any bathrooms to wash your hands afterward. You can also carry a water bottle, a collapsible bowl, treats, an extra collar and a secondary leash. 

8. Bring Protective Gear

You wouldn’t want to walk up a mountain barefoot, so don’t make your furry best friend adventure without protective gear. They might need booties if you’re walking along paved trails in the summer or rocky terrain. Coats will keep your pup comfortable during winter trips that include outdoor activities. Rain jackets and sunblocking goggles may also come in handy in extra rainy or sunny locations.

9. Include Their Medications

Your dog may be one of the many who take monthly flea, tick and heartworm medications. Check your calendar to see if their big date will pass while you’re away from home. You can always bring your dog’s medications and set reminders on your phone to avoid accidentally skipping dosages.

10. Strategize Car Sickness Solutions

Some dogs get more carsick than others. It’s always best to have a few solutions ready if you’ll be in the car for any extended period. Your pup may do great after being in the car for two or three hours, but what about an all-day or multi-day road trip?

Talk with your vet if you’d like to include medication for car sickness. They’ll recommend the best solutions and dosages for your pup’s health history.

You can also strategize other options, like bringing toys that smell like home, giving them calming herbs according to your vet’s instructions or stopping for breaks more frequently.

Learn How to Travel With a Dog

Now that you know how to travel with a dog, you can feel more confident about your upcoming adventure with your furry best friend. You’ll bring everything they could need while away from home so everyone has a great time during your vacation.

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