Dog Travel

Tags: Puppy 101, Health


Taking your dog on a car trip can be quite enjoyable if you prepare properly in advance. Most dogs love to travel in cars, especially when they begin as a puppy. Before you start your trip, make sure you begin weeks in advance to introduce your pet to a variety of situations in order to reduce stress.

First, let you dog get accustomed to meeting a lot of different people, young and old with all kinds of different looks and personalities. The more people the dog meets, the more comfortable they will be as you all travel together. Also, let your dog be around other animals and get comfortable with that concept as well.

As you travel, there will be a variety of sounds and surfaces that are different. Take your pet around to pet stores that allow animals to get the feel of a busy commercial area. Take the dog out walking in parks, hillsides or busy city sidewalks where there will be a lot of traffic noises. When you take the dog in the car, open the windows enough to let the sounds in.

When you are ready to travel, make sure you bring along the familiar foods your pet is used to. Changing the diet on a road trip could cause queasiness or diarrhea. Bring along water as well and begin mixing it with water in the area you are traveling. Sometimes a change in water can cause stomach problems as well. Be aware that some dogs can feel sick from motion sickness. Take time to pull off the road and let your dog walk around for a while and begin to feel better before moving on.

Prepare your car for traveling with a dog as well. You can use a plastic tablecloth to protect your backseat if you aren’t sure how your dog will react to traveling. Use the tablecloths that have a cloth backing. This will help keep it in place on the seat, but the plastic will be an easy clean up if you dog should happen to get sick.

Many people with smaller pets will simply put their dog in a crate. If your dog has been crate-trained, it will be an easy way to travel. Crates also make traveling safer for the pet if you should have to stop quickly or are involved in an accident. You may also want to try a Kyjen Dog Car Booster Seat safety and security.

Many dogs will get sick out of anxiety. There may be more going on around the dog than they can handle if they haven’t been adequately prepared to travel. The more often you take the dog on short trips – around the block, to a store, to a park – the easier traveling will become. To avoid carsickness, refrain from feeding your dog for at least eight hours before traveling. Avoid giving your pet water for at least two hours before traveling. When you stop, give the dog a few sips of water or ice cubes. If these strategies don’t work, your vet can prescribe medication for carsickness.

Stop every four to six hours to let your dog have a bathroom break and to stretch his legs. Make sure you keep him on a leash to avoid his curiosity taking him too far away from the car or being in danger. Your dog will enjoy the time to romp and play and get out of the car for a while.

Make sure to take several pet items along when you travel. Take a water and food bowl, collar and leash, any medication your pet may need, a crate or cloth to cover your seat, your dog’s favorite bed, blanket or toys, a can opener for food, a good supply of your dog’s regular food and treats, water, plastic bags to clean up after him and identification tags. If you plan to be on water for any period of time, make sure your pet has their own life jacket.

It would be a good idea to look up vets or emergency animal hospitals in the cities you will be traveling to, just in case an emergency arises. Before you leave on your trip, take phone numbers and addresses of potential vets to have on hand. Websites can give you this information, such as:

If you plan to stay in hotels as you travel, be sure to check ahead of time to see which hotels are pet-friendly. There are several websites that will give you pet-friendly hotels, including or

Traveling by Plane:

Several airlines will allow small pets to travel on the flight with the owner, as long as the pet is in a crate that can be stored under a seat. All airlines that allow for this type of travel also now charge a fee for your pet to fly with you, usually between $50-$100, depending on the flight and the airline. Check your airline for their rules before you take your pet.

Make sure your dog is accustomed to traveling in a crate. Airlines will allow some pet food to go on the plane, but water will not be allowed through the security lines. You can obtain water after going through security or on the flight. Make sure your dog can comfortably stand up, turn around and lay down in the crate and that the crate has a lot of air circulation.

All airlines will require a vet health certificate that has been obtained within 30 days of flying domestically and 10 days for international flights. For international destinations, contact the country consulate to see what types of inoculations your dog will need, or if the dog may be quarantined before entering that particular country.

Many dogs will fly comfortably, but others may be nervous or scared to fly. If this is the case for your pet, consider a mild sedative from your vet to help your pet relax during the flight.

Larger pets will have to fly in the cargo area. Again, you must check with individual airlines for their particular rules. Most airlines have several months of the summer in the United States when dogs cannot be shipped to southern states because of the heat. Temperatures must range between 45-85 degrees at all times for pets to be shipped, including the waiting time for shipment, flight times and arrival waiting periods to be picked up. This is for the protection of your dog’s health and well-being. Recommendations are to withhold food from your dog for several hours before flying and nothing to drink for about two hours in advance of flying. Give your dog a comfortable blanket or familiar bedding and perhaps a favorite toy. Make sure you have the crate clearly labeled with your name, address, phone number and destination information. Make sure your pet has identification labels as well.

Buses and Trains:

At the time of this writing, pets are not allowed to travel on US buses or Amtrack trains, other than service dogs. Check your local services for updated information.

Your trip with your pet will be successful if you follow these simple principles and plan ahead.

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