Traveling With Your Dog Made Easy

June 7, 2023

Setting off on a new adventure is always thrilling, especially when accompanied by your loyal canine companion. The joy of exploring new places and the bond created during these unforgettable moments makes traveling with your pup an enriching experience.

From road trips to plane rides, we’ve got you covered with all the essential tips and advice you’ll need for a hassle-free adventure. Pack your bags, grab the leash, and get ready to create lifelong memories as you and your furry friend embark on your next trip.

Preparing for Your Trip

Before setting off on your grand adventure with your four-legged friend, ensure you’ve taken care of all the necessary preparations. From visiting your veterinarian to packing the essentials, it’s crucial to thoroughly prepare ahead of time to help make your trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Health Check-Up

Schedule an appointment with your vet to ensure your dog is in good health and fit for travel. Discuss your travel plans and seek advice on any potential health concerns that may arise during your trip.

Necessary Vaccinations

Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, and ask your veterinarian about any additional vaccinations that might be required, depending on your destination.

Travel with Anxiety Medication (If Needed)

If your dog suffers from travel anxiety, consult your veterinarian about the possible use of medication or natural remedies to help ease their stress during the journey.

HomeoPet, Travel Anxiety, 15 ml.

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Proof of Vaccination

Obtain a copy of your dog’s vaccination records, as some accommodations and airlines may require this information.

Health Certificate

Depending on your destination and mode of transportation, a health certificate issued by a veterinarian within a specific timeframe may be required.

Microchip Information

Ensure your dog is microchipped and the information is up to date. This can be essential in case your dog gets lost during your travels.

Research Pet-Friendly Accommodations  

Before booking accommodations, research hotels, motels, or vacation rentals that are pet-friendly. Websites like BringFido and PetFriendlyTravel can help you find suitable lodging. Check for any additional fees, weight limits, or breed restrictions, and always confirm their pet policy when making a reservation.

Pack Essential Items for Travel with Pets

Having the right supplies can make all the difference when traveling with your dog. Be sure to pack the following essentials:

  • Food and water: Bring enough food for the duration of your trip, and don’t forget a supply of fresh, clean water for your dog. Untreated water sources can contain harmful substances like excessive salt, bacteria, or toxins that can lead to illness or serious health problems.
  • Collapsible bowls: Lightweight, collapsible bowls are perfect for feeding and hydrating your dog on the go.
  • Leash and collar: A sturdy leash, collar, and an extra set for emergencies are essential. Your dog’s collar should have a tag with readable, up-to-date contact information that’s securely attached. It’s vital to check these regularly as wear and tear can make details hard to discern.
  • Toys and treats: Bring your dog’s favorite toys and treats to keep them entertained and reward them for good behavior during the trip.
  • Bedding and crate: Bring your dog’s familiar bedding and a travel crate to help them feel more comfortable and secure in unfamiliar environments.
  • First-aid kit: Assemble a first-aid kit specifically for your dog, including items like bandages, tweezers, and any necessary medications. Familiarize yourself with basic pet first aid techniques before starting your journey.

Kurgo, Pet First Aid Kit

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Road Trips with Your Dog

golden retriever sitting in back of car with an open hatch

Hitting the open road with your dog can be a fantastic bonding experience, filled with new sights, sounds, and adventures. To ensure the safety and comfort of both you and your furry friend, follow these essential tips for a successful road trip.

Securing Them in the Car

Ensuring your dog’s safety during car travel is crucial. Select an appropriate method to secure your dog while the vehicle is in motion. A dog safety harness that attaches to your car’s seat belt system can keep your pet secure and comfortable during the trip.

Installing a pet barrier between the front and back seats, or between the back seat and cargo area, can help keep your dog contained and safe during the ride. A well-ventilated, appropriately-sized crate secured in the back of your vehicle can provide a safe space for your dog during the trip.

Ensuring your dog’s safety during car travel reduces driver distractions and protects them in case of abrupt stops or accidents.

There are several options to secure your dog: a dog safety harness, pet barriers, or a secured, well-ventilated crate. Each method helps prevent your pet from becoming a potential hazard inside the vehicle.

For more guidance, consult the Center for Pet Safety. They conduct crash tests on harnesses and crates, providing valuable insights. Visit their website for further information on pet auto restraints and containment systems.

Plan Rests Stops and Breaks

Taking regular breaks during your road trip is essential for both you and your dog’s wellbeing. Schedule regular stops for your dog to relieve themselves and to stretch their legs. Look for pet-friendly rest areas or parks along your route. Incorporate breaks for exercise and playtime to help your dog burn off energy and reduce anxiety during the trip. 

Keep Your Dog Comfortable

To make the journey enjoyable for your canine companion, keep their comfort in mind. Ensure the car’s temperature is suitable for your dog. Use sunshades to block excessive sunlight and provide proper ventilation. Keep your dog well-hydrated throughout the journey. Offer water during rest stops or provide a spill-proof water bowl inside the vehicle.

Avoid Leaving Your Dog Alone in the Car

Leaving your dog unattended in a vehicle can be dangerous, especially during extreme weather conditions. Even on a seemingly mild day, temperatures inside a car can rise quickly, putting your dog at risk for heatstroke or other complications. 

Here’s a chart showing how fast temperatures rise inside a car:

Estimated Vehicle Interior Air Temperature vs. Elapsed Time

Outside Air Temperature (F)
Elapsed Time 70 75 80 85 90 95
0 minutes 70 75 80 85 90 95
10 minutes 89 94 99 104 109 114
20 minutes 99 104 109 114 119 124
30 minutes 104 109 114 119 124 129
40 minutes 108 113 118 123 128 133
50 minutes 111 116 121 126 131 136
60 minutes 113 118 123 128 133 138
> 1 hour 115 120 125 130 135 140

Courtesy Jan Null, CCM; Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University

Furthermore, there’s an increasing concern about pet theft, especially of high-value dogs for reselling, making it even more crucial not to leave your dog unattended. Plan your stops accordingly, and never leave your dog alone in the car for extended periods.

Flying with Your Dog

chihuahua wearing pink standing on airport chair next to luggage

Air travel with your dog can be a bit more complicated than road trips, but with proper planning and preparation, you can ensure a safe and comfortable journey for your furry friend. Follow these guidelines to navigate the process of flying with your dog.

Research Airline Pet Policies

Each airline has its pet policies, so it’s essential to research the specific requirements for your chosen carrier and any circumstances they may not accept pets. Consider the following aspects:

  • Cabin vs. cargo hold: Some airlines let small dogs fly in the cabin with their pet owners, while larger dogs must be placed in the cargo hold. Determine which option is available and best suited for your dog.
  • Service dogs: If your dog is a service dog, be sure to check the airline’s policies regarding service animals, as they often have different requirements and accommodations.
  • Size and weight restrictions: Airlines often have size and weight restrictions for dogs traveling in the cabin. Be sure to check these requirements and measure your dog and carrier accordingly.
  • Pet fees and documentation requirements: Familiarize yourself with any applicable fees for traveling with your dog, such as a carry-on pet fee, and gather the necessary documentation, such as vaccination records and health certificates.

Selecting an Appropriate Pet Carrier

Choose pet carriers that meet the airline’s requirements and provide a comfortable, secure space for your carry-on pets during the flight. Ensure that the carrier you select complies with their specific guidelines regarding size, construction, and ventilation.

The carrier should have ample ventilation and enough room for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. To help your dog feel more at ease, consider placing a familiar blanket or toy inside the carrier.

Petmate, 24" 2-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel

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Pre-Flight Preparations

Proper preparation before your flight can make the experience smoother and less stressful for your dog:

  • Exercise before departure: Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercises the day before and the day of the flight to help them burn off energy and reduce anxiety during the trip.
  • Feeding guidelines: Feed your dog a light meal 3-4 hours before the flight to prevent discomfort or motion sickness. Consult your veterinarian for specific feeding recommendations.
  • Locate pet relief areas: Many airports have designated pet relief areas, either indoors or outdoors, to accommodate traveling pets. Before boarding your flight, locate these areas to allow your dog to relieve themselves.
  • Arrival at the airport: Arrive at the airport early to allow enough time for check-in and any necessary paperwork. Give your dog a chance to relieve themselves at a pet relief area and stretch their legs before entering the terminal.

Post-Flight Care

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, take some time to help your dog adjust and recover from the flight. Allow your dog to become acclimated to their new surroundings and decompress from the flight. Be patient and provide comfort and reassurance during this process. 

Monitor your dog for any signs of distress, dehydration, or illness after the flight. Consult a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s wellbeing.

International Travel with Your Dog

Traveling internationally with your dog can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also requires careful planning and adherence to various regulations. To help you and your furry friend navigate the complexities of international travel, consider the following steps:

Research Destination Country’s Pet Import Regulations

Each country has its pet import regulations, which may include vaccinations, testing, and documentation requirements. Additionally, some countries have restrictions or bans on specific dog breeds. Research these rules well in advance of your trip to ensure you have ample time to comply with all necessary regulations.

Acquire Necessary Certifications and Permits

Depending on the destination country, you may need to obtain specific certifications or permits for your dog. This may include:

  • Import permits: Some countries require an import permit for pets, which may need to be obtained before departure.
  • Pet passports: A pet passport is a document that records your dog’s vaccination history, microchip information, and other relevant details. Some countries may require a pet passport for entry.
  • USDA endorsement: If traveling from the United States, you may need to have your dog’s health certificate and other documents endorsed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Consider Quarantine Requirements

Certain countries may impose a mandatory quarantine period for pets upon arrival to ensure they are free from diseases. Research the quarantine requirements for your destination and be prepared to comply with these regulations. Keep in mind that quarantine periods can be lengthy and potentially costly, so it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of bringing your dog on an international trip with such requirements.

Amtrak Trains

Amtrak offers a pet-friendly travel option for those who prefer a more leisurely and scenic journey. Taking your dog on an Amtrak train can be an enjoyable experience, but it’s important to familiarize yourself with their pet policies and requirements to ensure a smooth ride.

Pet Policy and requirements:

  • Small pets only: Amtrak allows small dogs and cats, with a maximum weight of 20 lbs, including the carrier. Larger dogs are not permitted on board, except for service animals.
  • Advance reservations: Due to limited pet-friendly accommodations, you must reserve a spot for your pet in advance. There is a fee for bringing your pet on board, which varies depending on your travel route and destination.
  • Approved pet carrier: our dog must be kept in a well-ventilated, leak-proof carrier that fits under your seat. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, and lie down comfortably. Soft-sided carriers are generally preferred.
  • Duration restrictions: Pets are allowed on trips with a maximum duration of seven hours. They are not permitted on trips longer than this or on overnight trains.
  • Documentation: While Amtrak doesn’t require specific documentation for pets, it’s a good idea to carry your dog’s up-to-date vaccination records, particularly if you plan on traveling across state lines.
  • Pet health: Your pet must be at least 8 weeks old and harmless, odorless, not disruptive, and require not attention during travel.
  • No pets in certain areas: Dogs are not allowed in non-Acela Business class, First class, food service cars, or bedroom accommodations.

Greyhound Buses

Greyhound buses offer an affordable and convenient way to travel across the country. However, when it comes to traveling with your dog, there are some important policies and restrictions to consider before booking your trip.

Pet policy and requirements:

  • Service animals only: Greyhound allows only trained service animals accompanying passengers with disabilities. Emotional support animals and pets are not permitted on Greyhound buses.
  • Proper identification: Your service dog must have the appropriate identification, such as a service animal vest or ID card, to indicate their status as a working animal.
  • Well-behaved and controlled: Your service dog must be well-behaved and under your control at all times. They should not block aisles or occupy seats meant for passengers.

Making the Most of Your Trip

puppy on a leash with young family at the beach

Once you and your dog have arrived safely at your destination, it’s time to explore and create unforgettable memories together. To make the most of your adventure, consider the following tips for a fun and enjoyable experience with your canine companion.

Explore Dog-Friendly Attractions and Activities

Research and plan visits to dog-friendly attractions and activities in your destination. This may include a dog park, beaches, hiking trails, and even pet-friendly restaurants and cafes. Websites like BringFido can help you find exciting places to visit with your dog.

Practice Good Pet Etiquette

Being a responsible pet owner and practicing good pet etiquette will ensure a pleasant experience for everyone involved. Keep the following tips in mind during your travels:

  • Always clean up after your dog: Bring plenty of waste bags and clean up after your dog in public spaces.
  • Keep your dog on a leash: Unless you’re in a designated off-leash area, keep your dog leashed and under control at all times.
  • Be mindful of other travelers: Be respectful of other travelers and their pets, and always ask for permission before allowing your dog to approach another person or animal.
  • Follow posted rules and regulations: Adhere to any posted rules and regulations regarding pets in the areas you visit.

Capture Memories with Your Furry Friend

Don’t forget to document your adventures with your dog! Take plenty of photos and videos to capture the special moments you share together. These mementos will serve as cherished keepsakes to remind you of the incredible experiences you and your canine companion enjoyed during your trip.

A Tail-Wagging Adventure Is Right Around the Corner

Traveling with your dog can be a truly enriching and unforgettable experience. With careful planning, preparation, and consideration for your dog’s comfort and safety, you can go on an adventure that will strengthen the bond between you and your four-legged friend. 

Whether you’re hitting the open road, taking to the skies, or exploring a foreign land, the memories and experiences you create together will last a lifetime. Remember to visit Wilco Farm Stores for all your essential travel supplies to ensure a fantastic trip. Happy travels!