Travel with dog is becoming increasingly popular, but it’s not without its challenges. Here are some tips for ensuring a smooth trip for everyone.
Before traveling, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and they’re acclimated to their carrier. It’s also a good idea to talk to your vet about any anxiety-reducing medications you may want to bring along.
Before your trip, make an appointment with your vet to get a clear picture of your pet’s overall health. This will help ensure that your dog is in optimum health for travel, especially if the holiday destination requires a certain quarantine period. You may also need to give your pet certain medicines or vaccinations to protect against disease in the place you are visiting. Your vet will tell you about any specific requirements of the country you are going to, as well as recommend a veterinary specialist in the destination area who can help with any issues that might arise while you’re away.
Whether you’re travelling by car, train or plane, make sure that your pet is restrained appropriately. This will help keep them safe if they become stressed, agitated or anxious during the journey. A harness or collar with a microchip tag and up-to-date contact details is essential, as are an identification card with your pet’s name, your home phone number and the telephone number of the accommodation you will be staying at in case they get lost during your travels. If you’re taking your pet on an air trip, you might also want to consider a GPS tracker, such as this one from Bartun, which fits easily on most dog and cat collars (Amazon, $90).
If your dog will be flying, it’s important to check with the airline in advance about their policies on pets. Most airlines specify maximum sizes and weights for dogs and carriers, so it’s best to know these in advance to avoid any surprises at check-in. You’ll also need to know if the airline has any pet relief areas in the terminal, so that your dog can get out of its carrier and stretch its legs during the flight.
If you’re planning to bring your dog on a long flight, it’s a good idea to get them used to being handled by strangers in the weeks leading up to the trip. This will make them more accepting of being put into a carrier for hours during the flight. You might also want to try carrying them around the house or neighbourhood with a carrier, to get them used to different sights and sounds before they are confined for such a long time on vacation.
Even if your dog is well-acclimated to car travel, it’s best to confine them to a carrier for the duration of the trip. It’s safer for the both of you, and it’s much harder to distract a dog when they’re cooped up in a small space for long periods of time. Make sure the carrier is secured to the vehicle with a seat belt and that it’s large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Pets should never be allowed to hang their heads out of the window, as they could be struck by passing debris or thrown out the window in case you need to slam on the brakes quickly or turn a corner suddenly.
It’s also essential to check with the airline ahead of time about their rules for traveling with pets. Regulations can change frequently, and international flights may require additional documentation such as a health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination. It’s a good idea to bring your dog in for a vet visit close to the date of your trip, as they can provide the all-important go-ahead that you need to board the plane.
If your dog isn’t comfortable on planes or in new surroundings, consider buying them some calming items such as pheromone sprays or herbal supplements to ease their stress levels. You can also purchase a pet collar with GPS so you can locate them if they get lost while you’re traveling.
When you reach your destination, it’s important to respect other guests and hotel staff if they have dogs too. Some places may have a no-dog policy that you need to respect, but most will welcome your dog as long as they’re kept on leash and under control.
Leaving your dog alone in the car is always bad, but it’s particularly dangerous during hot weather when they can suffer heatstroke and oxygen deprivation. According to the Humane Society, it takes only seven minutes for a pet’s body temperature to reach life-threatening levels in a locked car. To avoid this, you should always use a pet-safe way of keeping your dog in the vehicle and take them out for walks during the day.
If you’re planning to bring your dog on a plane, call the airline directly to find out their specific rules and regulations. Most airlines limit the number of dogs onboard and restrict which areas of the plane they can travel in, so make sure to check ahead of time. Also, remember that the airport and the airplane are both very noisy environments for dogs, so prepare accordingly by getting your pup acclimated to the noise through short trips in the car before the trip itself.
Road trips may be more of a challenge for your dog, but they can offer some great opportunities to discover off the beaten track trails, pawfect pet friendly restaurants, and create furbulous memories you will treasure forever. Before taking a long drive, get your dog used to riding in the car by taking several shorter trips and gradually increasing the length of the journey. Make sure to feed your dog a few hours before you start your trip and stop along the way for breaks, so they don’t overeat.
Before you leave home, make sure your dog has a collar and an ID tag with current information, including your name and phone number and the address of where you will be staying while on vacation. You should also consider a microchip. If your dog is ever lost while traveling, these documents can help in reuniting you quickly and safely.
If your dog is not able to sit calmly in the car for a long trip, or they become anxious and agitated during the ride, it’s best to leave them at home. Find a trusted friend or relative who can watch them, or use a site like Trusted Housesitters to find pre-vetted pet lovers willing to do so around the world. This will save you money on pet sitter costs and allow your dog to enjoy the rest of your trip in peace.
After a long flight, you and your dog will be reunited at the airport. Some airlines require pet owners to drop off their dogs before the plane takes off and to pick them up after the flight. Check with your airline to find out when these requirements are and leave extra time in your travel schedule for these stops.
Most airlines allow pets to travel in the cabin if they are under 20 pounds and don’t have a medical condition that requires them to travel as cargo. Some airlines require that your dog fit on the floor in front of you or in one of the seats designated for in-cabin travel and will have size restrictions and paperwork requirements. If your pet is an emotional support animal or service dog, they may fly free of charge as long as they meet size and paperwork requirements.
If your pet is over 20 pounds or doesn’t qualify as an emotional support or service animal, they will have to travel in the cargo hold of the plane. This will mean that your dog will spend the entire flight, including tarmac delays, in an enclosed space with fluctuations in temperature and limited interaction with people or other animals. If this is the case, it’s important to make sure that your airline allows for in-cabin travel on flights with a length of 12 hours or more and that you have an agreement with your carrier provider regarding how much they will charge for transporting your dog in their cargo hold.
If your pet is traveling from or returning to the US, it will need to meet federal entry requirements set by CDC and regulations from the USDA-APHIS, and, for re-entry into the United States, rules from your destination state.