Many people are itching to get out of the house and up the canyon, or on vacation to the tropics. If you’re one of them and thinking about bringing your pup, keep reading to find the best ways to travel with your dog. We cover health and safety, crating, identification, lodging, and going by car, train, bus, or boat, and even flying.
Traveling with Dogs
There are several must-dos when traveling with your dog, but the three most important include: planning bathroom breaks, bringing games and toys, and packing food, water, and treats. Although these things seem like common sense, owners may forget or think they can buy food and games/toys when they get to their destination, or that dogs can hold it all day, so it should be OK. Always expect the unexpected and prepare for any situation.
Let’s delve a little more into these most important must-dos when taking a dog on a road trip or a vacation by plane, train, or boat.
- Bathroom breaks - Before you take off, allow your dog to potty on different surfaces aside from grass. This will train him to potty on different terrains, including dirt, concrete, gravel, or mulch. Bring bags to clean up afterward, as well as a leash and all identifying tags and licenses. Check with your destination to see regulations and rules for pets.
- Games and toys - To ensure your pup doesn’t get bored, bring fun and challenging games to keep him occupied. Dogs get bored, but they also get anxious in new places, so bring their favorite chew toys, so there’s familiarity. Even if they have a blanket they sleep with, bring that as well.
- Food, water, and treats - Check with your vet to see about giving your dog only bottled water while gone, just to ensure he doesn’t get an upset stomach. Dog brand companies sell probiotic supplements to help manage diarrhea that comes with anxiety or drinking foreign sources of water. Use a few weeks before the trip, during, and when you come home, so if your dog does by chance drink the water, he’s less likely to get sick. Also, buy collapsible bowls, instead of his regular ones, and let him use them for a week.
Health & Safety
Before you leave for your road trip or by other transport, get your dogs checked out by your vet. Ensure all his vaccinations are current and take immunization records with you. Health certifications are required for airline travel, so keep that in mind.
Bring your dog’s regular food with you and bottled water, as well as his favorite treats. If he travels well, reward him. Prepare for any emergency. Get the contact information for a local 24-hour emergency hospital and your vet and program it into your phone, in case they need to communicate with each other. It’s always best to be safe than sorry, especially when traveling to new and unknown destinations for you or your dog.
Also, be sure your dog is healthy when traveling, hence why she should get a complete checkup. Discuss any concerns or questions with your vet. They are the best source for tips on traveling with your pup since they know them well.
When traveling by air, crating your doggo is a requirement, but you may want to try it while car traveling as well, particularly if they get anxious. It’s also good to have at a hotel or a host’s home to keep them from getting into trouble. Look for these features when shopping:
- Big enough so your dog can stand up, turn, and lie down comfortably
- Secure with handles and grips and free of interior bulges
- Ventilation on both sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow
- “Live Animal” label with arrows showing the upright position and contact information, such as owner’s name, address, and phone number.
- Leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent material
Place a comfortable mat, your dog’s favorite chew toy and blanket, a water bottle, and some treats/bones in the crate, and your pup is ready to go!
It’s crucial always to have identification on your dog’s collar in the event your dog gets away from you while on vacation. Ensure they have a sturdy leash and collar— one that isn’t too loose or tight. Consider bringing a harness, so if you go on long trips, you can walk them comfortably and not worry whether they will lose their collar.
Microchipping is a great way to have a permanent form of ID, so consider that option. Also, bring a recent photo of your dog along with you and a copy of their health records, which contains all of their current vaccinations.
Nowadays, you can travel with your dog on pretty much any mode of transportation, including bus, boat, plane, and train. Here are some tips using these venues of travel.
Traveling by Car
If your puppy hasn’t traveled very far in your car, it may help to make some trial runs before the big road trip. Go on short car rides and then longer ones, if needed. Look for signs of car sickness, such as profuse panting, whining and pacing, excessive drooling, smacking or licking lips, lethargy or inactivity, vomiting, or diarrhea. Better to know now if your pup gets sick on car rides than when you’re already on your way. You can avoid car sickness if you let your dog travel on an empty stomach, but ensure he has plenty of water.
Here are some other tips:
- Keep the car well ventilated, so your pup has plenty of fresh air, especially if he’s in a crate.
- Avoid eye injuries by not allowing your dog to ride with his head sticking out an open window at high speeds.
- Never allow your dog to ride in the back of an open truck. Doing so is extremely dangerous and can lead to severe injury or death.
- Stop often for bathroom and rest breaks and clean up after them.
- Talk to your children (if needed) about avoiding teasing or annoying the car while traveling. If the dog is anxious, ensure he gets plenty of interaction and soothing.
- Don’t ever let your pup alone in a hot car. If you must leave, have a member stay in the car with them.
Traveling by Air
There are specific requirements for traveling on a plane with pets; they include visiting with your vet at least a few weeks before your trip for certification of health. (include rabies and vaccination records) This certificate must be given to the airline no more than ten days before you travel. Also, your pup needs to be at least eight weeks old and weaned. Other important information includes:
- Federal regulations prohibit the shipping of live animals as cargo or excess baggage if the animal is exposed to temperatures below 45℉ or above 85℉ for more than four hours during departure, arrival, or while connecting to other airlines.
- Airlines clearly state it’s YOUR responsibility to verify your dog’s health and capacity to fly. Consider asking your vet if your pup needs a tranquilizer before flying. Be sure to check the flight’s starting point and destination, so it’s not too hot or cold for them.
- Note, each airline has its regulations and services concerning pets. If an airline feels the crate doesn’t meet their requirements, you may not be able to use it. If the crate is small enough and can fit under your seat, they may allow you to bring your dog into the cabin.
- Keep in mind, when making a reservation, to include your dog. Airlines have restrictions on the number of animals permitted on each flight and usually accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Traveling by Other Means
When traveling by bus or train, only dogs under 20 lbs are permitted on Amtrak trains, and it’s a $25 fee. Greyhound and other interstate bus companies do not allow dogs, except service dogs. Local rail and bus companies have policies of their own.
When taking a cruise, you may be better off. Some cruise lines allow dogs but check with the one you’ll be traveling on, to ensure they allow them before making plans that include your dog.
In advance of traveling, check which hotels or motels on your route or destination for policies on allowing dogs. Some have size restrictions or don’t allow them at all. If you can bring your dog, respect other guests and the property, and keep your dog as quiet as possible. Do not leave your dog unattended, as they can destroy property or bark if left alone in a strange place.
Ask management where you can walk your dog and always pick up after them. Be considerate of others and never give other guests a reason to complain. Puppy-proof a room or vacation home before letting your dog have free reign. Keep all electrical cords out of reach and ensure nothing is left behind by other guests that your dog can get.
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