How to Travel with Dogs
Sometimes the hardest part of traveling is leaving your pet behind for extended periods of time. However, bringing your dog along on a trip should not be an afterthought and should be given a significant amount of planning. There are many ways to secure arrangements and accommodations during your travel that can help make your dog as comfortable and happy as possible.
Preparing for Travel
1. Get a vet checkup. It is essential to get a checkup at your vet before your travel in order to receive a health certificate, often required for airline travel, and proof of vaccination. Many transportation services open to the public (trains, planes, boats) require a health certificate and proof of vaccination before agreeing to transport your dog.
- Carry all of your dog’s documentation with you while you are travelling to avoid any issues with veterinary border control or emergency illnesses.
- Depending on where you're traveling, your pet's health certificate may need to be issued no earlier than 10 days before your travel date.
- While you're at the vet, be sure to stock up on all necessary medications.
2. Check for rules and restrictions regarding animals. If you are flying or driving to another country, be sure to check for their immigration and veterinary border control policies. Contact the airline you are traveling with as well as the border control for the country you will be arriving in to find out what restrictions and laws you need to abide by.k
- Some countries will require your dog to have specific vaccinations. They may also require your dog to be quarantined for a certain amount of time upon arrival at their border.
- Consult the airline you are travelling with to be put in touch with veterinary border control.
- Some airlines will not transport certain dog breeds, and some airlines won't fly dogs in extreme heat or cold.
3. Exercise your dog before you crate them. Crating your dog is recommended for both their and your safety. Before crating, be sure to exercise your dog so that they are more comfortable resting.
- Go for an extra long walk or run before putting your dog in the car or arriving at the airport.
4. Research dog-friendly accommodations and areas. Whether you are driving or flying you’ll eventually need to find a dog-friendly hotel. Ask your hotel what their pet policies are when you are booking.
- Some hotels charge extra for animals, and some have breed and size restrictions.
- Bring extra waste bags and wipes in case your dog has an accident at the hotel.
- Find out if your accommodation is near a park, lake, trail, or field that you and your dog can walk to for exercise and bathroom breaks.
5. Create a small emergency kit for the dogs and yourself. It comes in handy for cuts, ticks and the like. It will give you peace of mind if nothing else! Make sure your kit also includes any medications that your dog might need.
- Emergency kits should contain all of your dog’s relevant paperwork, a nylon leash, muzzle, and various medical supplies like hydrogen peroxide, gauze, bandages, tweezers, and adhesive tape.
6. Avoid sedating your dog. Sedating your dog can often cause unwanted complications as most sedatives will reduce your dog’s response to pressure and climate changes. Instead of sedating your dog, be sure to give them plenty of exercise before crating and have drinking water close by.
- Consult your vet if you are concerned that your dog may be in need of a sedative or tranquilizer while travelling.
Driving with Your Dog
1. Keep your dog crated in the back seat. Both you and your dog are the most safe when your dog is securely crated in the back seat of your car. If your dog is freely roaming there are chances of them obstructing your driving and increasing their risk of injury.
- If your dog isn't crate trained, use a harness and dog safety-belt to secure it in the vehicle instead.
- Dogs should never travel in the beds of pickup trucks. Not only will they be directly exposed to the elements, they may also suffer fatal injuries should you get into an accident. Keeping your dog in a truck bed is also illegal in some areas.
2. Feed your dog a few hours before travel and provide snacks at rest stops. Feeding your dog hours before you begin traveling will help prevent motion sickness. Provide small snacks that are high in protein during rest stops to keep your dog satisfied.
- Feed your dog small portions of their regular food or small treats whenever you take a break from driving.
- If your dog is prone to car sickness consult your vet for remedies.
3. Stop frequently for exercise and bathroom breaks. Stopping frequently to let your dog stretch their legs and relieve themselves will help keep them happy, comfortable, and relaxed throughout the entire trip.
- Try and find dog-friendly locations to make stops at.
4. Never leave your dog unattended in your car. Even if the windows are cracked cars can quickly become too hot and dehydrate your dog. In order to avoid a conflict try finding a dog-friendly stop along your route.
- Enlist the help of a friend if you must leave your dog.
- Remember, dogs can succumb to heatstroke in just 15 minutes.
Flying with Your Dog
1. Check with your airline regarding their pet policy and registration. Some airlines do not transport pets, others only do so in cargo approved crates, and some will allow dogs of a certain size to be properly secured in a carrier and placed underneath the seat. Check with your airline to see how your dog will need to travel and make the appropriate accommodations.
- Most airlines have a weight limit of 20 pounds for in-cabin dog carrying and charge a fee of $125.
- If your dog is above your airline’s weight limit restriction your dog will need a cargo approved crate to travel in the cargo hold.
2. Confirm your dog’s travel with your airline 24 to 48 hours before your flight. Call your airline to reconfirm your dog’s travel and double check your airline’s pet policies at least 24 hours before your departure. Airlines can also refuse to transport your pet if there are extreme weather conditions of if your dog has an illness.
3. Prepare your dog for travel. Feed your dog four to six hours before crating to help them remain comfortable during travel and also avoid motion sickness. Be sure to pack their normal food with you during your trip and provide water up until they board the flight.
- Don’t leave anything, including snacks, in a dog’s cargo approved crate.
- Do not give your dog tranquilizers, unless prescribed by a vet, before a flight as this can cause health issues.
4. Bring a harness to contain your pet during security screening. Your dog’s crate will have to go through security screening, so be sure to bring a harness that can safely secure your dog while they are out of their crate.
5. Beware of the dangers of shipping your dog in the cargo hold. Although many animals are completely fine being shipped in the cargo hold, there are still a few animals that die or are injured each year.
- Try to fly direct in more moderate months, like during Autumn or Spring.
- Fix a label to your dog’s cargo crate and make sure they are wearing a collar that cannot get caught and cause injury.
6. Pick up your dog at baggage claim. Pick up your dog at baggage claim if they were traveling in the cargo hold of the plane. Once claimed, let your dog out of their crate, give them drinking water, and provide them with a small snack. Like people, your dog may need time to acclimate and adjust after a flight.
- Be sure to let your dog out of their crate in a controlled area, like outside baggage claim, and keep them on a leash or lead.
- Just like with any other trip, be sure to plan in advance.
- If you see staff during your travel mishandling a pet, say something. They may not be trained to handle animals.