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Tips for Traveling With Your Dog

We get it, it’s hard enough to leave your dog or puppy for the day, let alone an extended trip. And when you already share your heart and home, it makes perfect sense that you’d also include your pup on your next vacation.

The fact is, some dogs take very well to travel, and some simply don’t. Traveling can be both enjoyable and stressful for dogs and puppies alike. With all the stimulating sights, smells, and sounds, your dog’s reaction really depends on their personality and life experience. 

Ultimately, traveling with your canine sidekick is not only doable, but it can also be a wonderful shared adventure. Below, you’ll find our top tips for traveling with puppies and dogs to help you ensure that your trip creates lasting memories for all the right reasons!

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First Steps: Planning for Travel with Puppies and Dogs

Whether you’re traveling with an adult dog or a new puppy, be sure to introduce them to their carrier or travel crate, leash, travel bowls, or any harness they may wear a few weeks before your trip. Letting them interact and explore any new gear now means that things will be familiar later when they’re in new surroundings and looking for comfort. 

Here are some additional steps you’ll need to take when planning your trip.

Check Pet Policies Before You Book

Before confirming your travel arrangements, ensure that your chosen mode of transportation and accommodations welcomes furry travelers. Verify the specific pet policies and any size or breed restrictions. Planning ahead will save you from last-minute surprises and make your journey smoother.

Choosing Suitable Accommodations

Not all accommodations are created equal when it comes to canine companions. Opt for pet-friendly hotels or vacation rentals that not only tolerate dogs but welcome them. Consider the available amenities, such as nearby parks or walking trails, to enhance your dog’s stay.

Booking accommodations that welcome pets sets the stage for a stress-free getaway. But be aware that pet-friendly accommodations will book up early, so making reservations in advance is a must!

Identify Dog-Friendly Places and Activities in Advance

Researching dog-friendly locales in advance ensures that your itinerary caters to your furry friend’s needs. Identify parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces where your dog can stretch their legs and enjoy some much-needed playtime. Be aware of local regulations and etiquette to ensure that your visit is enjoyable for you, your dog, and those around you.

Easy Does It

As we mentioned, traveling can be stressful for some dogs, so it’s best to ease them in if it’s their inaugural voyage. While your pup in Paris sounds très bon, consider dipping their paw in the travel waters with something close and convenient first. 

It can be helpful to arrange a quick trip — like a short, direct flight or a literal test drive — to see how they react. You can adjust your gear and plans for longer journeys based on how they do.

Check In With Your Vet

A pre-trip visit to the vet is always a good idea to confirm that vaccinations are up to date, discuss any potential travel-related health concerns, and obtain a copy of your pet’s medical records. Additionally, inquire about preventive measures for illnesses or parasites that may be a concern when traveling to new environments.

Preparing for Emergencies

No one likes to think about emergencies, but being prepared makes all the difference. Prepare a canine first aid kit and any medications your dog or puppy may need. Familiarize yourself with the location of veterinary clinics along your route and at your destination, and have their contact information readily available.

SEE ALSO: Holiday Safety Tips for Pet Parents

Tips for Travel with Puppies

Traveling with a new puppy requires some special consideration, a little patience, and a whole lot of preparation. Here’s how to ensure that your journey is a tail-wagging success!

How Old Should a Puppy Be to Travel?

The excitement of planning your puppy’s first trip is undoubtedly contagious, but timing is key. Veterinarians generally recommend waiting until your puppy is 16 weeks old before embarking on grand adventures. 

Although some airlines accept puppies after 8 weeks of age, waiting until your pup is 16 weeks old ensures that they have received essential vaccinations, built up some resistance, and learned some basic life skills.

Of course, consulting with your vet about your furry friend’s specific needs is always a good idea!

Preparing Your Puppy for Their First Trip

Puppies thrive on routine, so gradual exposure is the key to acclimating them to travel. Take short drives to familiarize them with the sensation of being in a moving vehicle. 

Start crate training well in advance, and ensure that their crate is a safe and comforting space. Include familiar items, such as a favorite blanket. which can provide a sense of security during the journey.

Keeping Your Puppy Safe & Comfortable

We can all agree that safety during travel is paramount! Invest in a well-ventilated and appropriately sized travel crate and harness to keep your puppy secure during travel. Avoid leaving them unattended, even for a moment. Plan regular potty breaks and ensure that your pup has time to stretch and play to prevent boredom.

Packing the Necessities for Your Furry Travel Companion

Just like any traveler, your pup has a packing list! Here’s what should be on it:

  • Food and treats: Stick to their regular diet to avoid upset stomachs.

  • Bowls and water: Hydration is key, especially during the excitement of travel.

  • Leash, collar, and identification tags: Safety first! Make sure your pup is wearing an ID tag with current contact information at all times, and talk to your vet about getting them microchipped before your trip as an extra safety measure.

  • Comfort items: Familiar toys and bedding ease stress. Safe chew toys can also help to ease boredom during longer periods of travel.

  • Other canine travel essentials: Don’t forget waste bags, grooming tools, first aid items, and any medication your pup might need.

Tips for Traveling by Car

Embarking on a road trip with your furry co-pilot can be a joyous experience, but it requires some special considerations to ensure everyone arrives at your destination with their tails wagging.

Keeping Your Dog Safe in the Car

Utilize a well-ventilated travel crate, a secured pet car seat, or a travel harness to prevent your furry friend from roaming freely in the vehicle or escaping out an open door. Position the crate or seat in a secure and comfortable location and ensure that your dog can sit, stand, and lie down comfortably.

Handling Potty Breaks and Feeding on the Road

Potty breaks are a necessity during road trips, so planning for them is essential. Research pet-friendly rest areas along your route and schedule regular stops for your dog to stretch their legs and attend to nature’s call. Always keep waste bags handy to clean up as you go.

While on the road, plan to stop every 2-3 hours for bathroom breaks and to let your pooch stretch those furry legs. Provide your pup with water and small treats during each break, but try to stick to their regular mealtimes for feeding. Consistent schedules can provide security if your dog is feeling a little anxious away from home.

Dealing with Car Sickness in Dogs and Puppies

Motion sickness can affect dogs, especially puppies, during car rides. Ease your pup into car travel by starting with short trips and gradually increasing the duration. Ensure that the car is well-ventilated, and avoid feeding your pup a large meal right before a journey. 

If car sickness is a concern, consult with your vet in advance for potential solutions, which may include anti-nausea medication.

Tips for Traveling by Plane 

Jet setting with your canine sidekick requires a bit of extra preparation, but the experience can be smooth and hassle-free with the right approach. Airlines have strict pet policies, and they vary based on company, plane model, country, and type of flight (domestic vs. international travel). Pets must meet certain weight, size, and species requirements may fly. 

Small pets below a certain weight may be able to accompany you in the cabin while larger dogs must be checked below in the cargo hold. Be aware that traveling in the cargo hold can be a frightening and potentially dangerous experience (especially for flat-faced dog breeds like French Bulldogs and Pugs). 

Book In Advance and Reconfirm a Few Days Before Your Trip

Book your dog’s spot well in advance, as many airlines have limited space for pets. Additionally, a few days before your trip, reconfirm the details with the airline to ensure there are no unexpected changes to your pet’s travel arrangements.

Before You Board

When you arrive at the airport, you’ll need to check in with an agent. Allow extra time and be sure to bring any identifying papers or tags that you may need to present. Be aware that most airlines require a vet-issued certificate to verify your pet’s health.

Prior to boarding, ensure that your pup has a chance to burn off some energy with a brisk walk or play session. Be sure your pup has ample opportunities to go potty and avoid feeding a big meal a few hours before departure. A light snack and a drink before departure will keep your pup content during the flight.

Keeping Your Dog Safe and Calm on the Plane

If you have a small dog that’s small enough to fly up top, they’re considered as your “carry-on” and will need to be in a pet carrier under the seat in front of you for takeoff and landing. Now, if you’re as claustrophobic as us, that’s a pretty big ask for a very tiny space. 

Line their carrier with a favorite blanket or t-shirt that smells like you and include 1-2 favorite toys. Once you’re in the air, be a good pet owner and check with other passengers to see if they’re okay with you bringing your pup out for prime lap placement and some fresh (ok, recycled) air. 

Understanding Vaccination and Health Certificate Requirements

Before you head anywhere, it’s important to visit your dog’s trusted vet for a check-up, as well as to ensure that all their meds, vaccinations, and microchip information are up to date. If you and your pup are flying, most airlines require a health certificate from their vet, often issued within 10 days of your departure date.

When it comes to pets, the destination is just as important as the journey: Many countries have strict health rules and quarantines for live animals that you’ll need to meet for entry. If you and your pet are planning to travel outside of the United States, you can get an overview of requirements by country here (Yup, your pet may need a passport!).

Bond Vet is pleased to offer International Health Certificates for travel to Europe and other countries — call us to schedule an appointment with our USDA-certified veterinarian.

A Note About Sedatives

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, in most cases, you shouldn’t give your dog sedatives or tranquilizers before flying, due to potentially dangerous issues that can be exacerbated by increased air pressure and altitude changes.

If sedatives are something you want to explore before traveling with your dog, consult a trusted vet first. Never provide any medication, remedy, or treat with sedative properties to your dog without veterinary advice, even if they’re considered homeopathic or natural.

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