When you get a dog, you need to plan ahead. Your days are now scheduled with your dog’s needs in mind. Traveling is the same. You need to make a plan when it comes to vacations to ensure your dog is as safe and comfortable as possible.
Depending on the circumstances, leaving your dog at home with a pet sitter or finding a place to board them while you’re gone may be the best option. Traveling can be stressful for animals – this ensures that someone is there the entire time to take care of your dog’s needs and make sure they’re safe. Plus it can make your life easier while you’re on vacation, as you won’t have to plan around your dog’s schedule.
If you decide to take your dog with you on vacation, the first stop should be to the veterinarian’s office. Your vet will make sure vaccinations are up to date, be able to tell you if your dog should be traveling, and can prescribe something if needed to calm your dog while they travel.1 If you are traveling abroad, your vet may need to do extra things like run blood tests or put in a microchip before your dog is allowed to travel.2
If You Are Traveling…
You want to use a crate that is secured, usually by a seatbelt, to keep it in place. Don’t let your dog roam freely around the car, as they could get seriously injured if an accident happens. The safest place for your dog to be is in the crate, in the back seat of the car.3
If your dog isn’t used to car rides, start small with getting them used to being in the car without going anywhere. Start with shorter rides and then work your way up to longer ones. Dogs can get carsick. To mitigate this, make sure your dog has an empty stomach while you drive, but be sure to give them access to lots of water.1
This is a riskier option depending on what type of dog you have. Flights will allow a certain number of dogs on the plane in the cabin. However, they usually need to be small enough that their crates fit under the seat in front of you. If you aren’t able to bring them into the cabin, they’ll travel as cargo. While the majority of animals are fine when they travel this way, incidents of death or injury have occurred.3
To make traveling by plane as easy as possible, make sure your dog has identification tags and is microchipped.1 Take a direct flight if possible and be on the same flight as your dog. This will help avoid mistakes and make sure that you and your dog arrive at the same time.3
Trim their nails and make sure their collar can’t get caught on anything. This helps protect your dog from getting stuck anywhere due to their nails or their collar.3 When traveling to another place that may be hotter or colder, pick a flight that gets in or departs at hours that don’t coincide with the hottest or coldest times of the day.2
Other Tips for Traveling with Your Dog:
Air travel should be avoided when it comes to dogs that are brachycephalic (have pushed in faces, like pugs) because they are more at risk for oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.3
Probiotic supplements can help with digestive issues that can arise out of stress. Make sure to ask your vet about it.1
Train your dog to be able to have a bathroom break on many different surfaces. You may not always have the option to find a patch of grass while you’re traveling.1
Check out more information about dogs on our blog, like this post on How to Introduce Your Dog to Other Pets.
All the best,
Chris & the WERC Team