Traveling With Your Dog

Traveling with your dog can be wonderful.... but it can also be stressful, frustrating or even disappointing.

A guide to traveling with your dog

The good news is that a pinch of forward-planning and a few simple safety precautions can make the whole trip a lot more fun, for everyone!

There are lots of reasons why Fido is along for the ride.

Perhaps you're going on a family vacation - and your dog is a family member, right?

Or maybe you're making a cross-country move, or have to take a business trip at really short notice.

No matter what the reason, this page has all the tips, advice and info. you need to make your joint trip safe and fun... and memorable for the right reasons :) 

Ready... Set.....

The idea of heading down the highway at a moments notice, while Fido sits happily in the passenger seat, is appealing but not very realistic. 

There are lots of different things which can affect how your trip turns out, here are some of the most important ones:

  • Your dog's personality & travel history
  • The length of the trip
  • Your organizational skills & level of preparedness
  • How flexible you are (not physically. Emotionally and logistically)
  • Your sense of humor

If you have children you're ahead of the game, because taking a road trip with your dog involves pretty much the same process as traveling with child.

And if you don't have kids yet, let me give you a clue - preparation, preparation and more preparation!! 

How To Be Prepared For Anything

Although you could take an airplane, or a train, or even a bus on your trip, I'm going to start with the humble road-trip, because it's the easiest route to take.

Cool dog wearing his Doggles

You're in control of your vehicle, schedule, route, stops etc. and can tailor the journey to meet the unexpected - which could (and probably will) include motion sickness, potty breaks or stir-crazy behavior.

Here's how to get ahead of the curve and minimize problems by being prepared:

Practice - If you have a new puppy it's important to make sure he's familiar with the car and has been on several short trips before you embark on that marathon drive to Tuscon. If your older dog hasn't had many opportunities for car travel the same thing applies.

A few practice runs will give you the heads-up on any potential problems and give you the chance to adjust your plans accordingly.

LodgingIf staying at a hotel is in your plans, be sure to pick dog-friendly accommodation and remember to double-check their requirements and regulations by calling ahead.

Some hotels have weight limits on the dogs they allow to stay in their rooms, pet deposits, higher room rates etc., and it helps to know what's expected ahead of time.

Spending the night in your car with Fido on your lap is no way to start a relaxing vacation!

Supplies - When you're traveling with your dog taking certain items with you can make the trip easier, and keep Fido safer too...

  • Food: To helps avoid any tummy upsets be sure to take along enough of Fido's regular food. Even if he's not prone to car-sickness, a change in diet coupled with stress and travel, could cause a lot of mess. Don't forget his favorite treats either.

  • Water: You can't stop and buy your dog a coke, or a cup of coffee, so it's important to make sure he has plenty of fresh, cool water aboard for when he gets thirsty.

  • Bowls: When you make stops en-route, it's much easier to give your dog food and water if you've remembered to bring a couple of bowls along! You can even buy bowls that are especially designed for travel and take up very little space.

  • Motion sickness/Anxiety medication: If Fido gets agitated when traveling, his stress response can make him car sick, or even border on hysterical. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication that will calm him down, but these can be quite strong. 

    You might want to try natural products (including rescue remedies and pheromone collars). Check out this page to see different options Natural Health Products For DogsA Thundershirt is also a simple and very effective way to calm a dog who is anxious about traveling.

  • Dog First Aid Kit: Accidents & emergencies can (and do!) happen. It's important to have a first aid kit that will work for your four-legged family members too. Check out this page to learn more about the supplies to have on hand for any doggie-related emergencies... Basic Dog First Aid Supplies.

  • Fido's Favorite Possessions: Your little one will feel more at home in the car, and at your destination, if he has some of his favorite things with him. A familiar bed or blanket, and a couple of well-loved toys (plus a brand new one for an extra treat) can all help him settle down.

  • His Collar & Leash: This is really important! First of all make absolutely sure that your pooch is wearing a well-fitting and secure collar, complete with id tags and rabies tag. If he's micro-chipped so much the better. It's all too easy for a dog to get spooked or run off in a strange place, or if you get in an accident, and if he's not wearing any identification it's going to be more difficult to find him.

    I'd strongly recommend having a spare set of collar, leash and tags as well, just in case. You can't be too careful in this respect. There are also GPS dog collars and trackers that you can buy, which allow you to trace your dog with your smartphone. These are worth every penny in terms of peace of mind.

Car Safety & RestraintsIt's just not safe to let Fido travel unrestrained in your car. Depending on his size and personality there are several different options available.

Smaller dogs can use dog-carriers (pretty much padded, lined open-topped boxes) that are especially designed to be used with car seatbelts. For medium and large breeds a proper dog seat-belt is the safest option.

New PupSaver Car Seat.... Crash-Tested For Safety!

If you own a small dog (less than 30lbs) and you're looking for a car-seat for Fido , the new PupSaver is just what you need! It has passed safety testing similar to FMVSS 213 crash tests used to evaluate child car seats.

  • Unique Design
  • Fits all vehicles
  • Can be used in front/back
  • Lightweight & easy to install
  • Veterinarian endorsed

When you're traveling with your dog, it helps if your little furball is used to a crate. If he is happy in his crate and you have room for one alongside all that luggage they're a very safe way for him to travel.

Crates have the added benefit of giving your dog a safe and familiar place to sleep when you reach your destination, very useful if you're staying in a hotel.

Investigate Your Destination - When traveling with a canine companion, it really helps to plan ahead and find out as much as you can about the area you're staying in. Look for dog-friendly attractions, restaurants, parks and beaches.

Your hotel will most likely have lots of information and don't be afraid to ask other people you see out and about with their dogs - locals will know the best spots and other vacationers may have already had a chance to get 'the lie of the land'. 

Better To Be Safe Than Sorry

To make sure things go smoothly and things don't end in tears or trauma, here are a few simple safety precautions worth following...

Vaccinations & Parasite Prevention

Be sure that your puppy or dog is up-to-date on all his vaccinations and current deworming medications before you travel.

On your journey Fido is likely to come into contact with lots of new people and pets, and be in unfamiliar places. Not everyone is vigilant about making sure their dog is vaccinated, or healthy, and rest-stops and other public places can be a hot-bed of bacteria and viruses.

If your dog is protected at least he should be safe from the most serious illnesses diseases, but even then it's still a good idea to choose quieter, more out-of-the-way spots for your dog's potty breaks if you can.

The application of an effective flea and tick product product is highly recommended, and don't forget the monthly heartworm preventative (heartworm is spread by mosquitoes).

Regular Medications

If Fido takes any medications regularly, don't forget to take them with you! It won't be fun if you spend the first part of your trip running around trying to find a veterinarian in a strange town.

Heatstroke Danger

Too many dogs die of heatstroke every year and in the majority it's due to owners leaving their pets in a car "for just a few minutes".

NEVER, EVER leave your puppy or dog in a car during warm weather (even in cool weather it's not advisable).

The temperature inside your car will rise dramatically. A study done by Stanford University determined that even on relatively cool days (eg. outside temp is 72 F)the temperature inside a car can rise to 117 F in less than an hour). That's deadly.

Short nosed breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs are especially at risk. Heatstroke is very dangerous and often fatal. Don't ever take the chance with your puppy's life.

If you're traveling with your dog to a destination where there's lots of lovely sunshine, you need to know that dogs can also suffer from sunburn.

Surprising isn't it?

White dogs and those with thin coats are especially at risk so be sure to keep Fido in the shade as much as possible.

Looking For Info. On Dog Friendly Vacations?

If you want general tips and advice on taking a dog-friendly vacation, this page has what you're looking for.

Want to know which hotel chains are dog-friendly?

A list of dog-friendly beaches organized by state?

Resources to help you pick accommodation in the US, Canada or the UK?

Just click on these gorgeous chocolate Labs to find out more...

› Traveling With Your Dog

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