Traveling With Your Dog

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Health and Nutrition

Traveling With Your Dog

More pet owners are traveling with their furry friends and hotels nationwide are opening their doors to the practice. Several Web sites list welcoming facilities, allow you to make reservations online and offer reviews and advice from fellow travelers. Check out “petswelcome.com,” “petfriendly.com,” “bringyourpet.com,” “takeyourpet.com,” and “travelpets.com” or just search the Internet for “pet-friendly hotels.” Reviewing these options in advance can make the difference in how your trip unfolds.

Traveling By Car

Before taking your dog on a long trip, ask yourself these questions:
  • Will your dog be welcome at the vacation destination?
  • Will your dog enjoy the trip?
  • Is your dog in good health?
If you’ve answered “yes,” accustom your dog to riding in a car. Begin with short rides each day and gradually increase the length of each ride. If your dog is unable to adjust to short rides, a responsible sitter or a boarding kennel is preferable. If you board him, make reservations well in advance, especially for summer months and major holidays.
  • Do not feed your dog for at least three hours before leaving on a trip. Take your dog for a walk just before you start the drive and he will be more comfortable as the trip gets underway.
  • During stops, provide fresh drinking water for your dog.
  • Feed your dog shortly after you arrive at your destination or when you have stopped for the day.
  • If your car has adequate space, using a carrier is the safest way for your dog to travel. Never put the carrier on the sunny side of the car where your dog may become overheated.
  • If a carrier is not feasible for your dog, consider using a restraining harness. They come in different sizes to fit all breeds and are available at pet supply stores.
  • Always put your dog on a leash before letting him out of the car. If you walk your dog on the highway at night, wear reflective strips on your clothing and place a reflective collar on your dog for visibility and protection.
  • Never leave your dog in a closed car, even on a mild day. Temperatures in cars can rise quickly even if the windows are open slightly. The heat and insufficient air circulation can quickly lead to heat stress, suffocation and death.

Traveling By Air

Try to avoid peak travel periods when delays and stopovers are longer. Traveling in extreme hot or cold weather may be dangerous if your dog must wait very long before loading and unloading. Plan a trip with as few stops and transfers as possible.
  • Make hotel, resort and airline reservations for your dog well in advance. Some airlines have limited space for transporting pets.
  • Some airlines allow small dogs to travel with their owner (generally for an additional charge) if the carrier fits under the passenger seat. Otherwise, rent or purchase a carrier or crate which meets airline regulations and affix a LIVE ANIMAL sticker. Mark it with your name and address and the name of a person who can be contacted about your dog at your destination if necessary.
  • Put a cushion or blanket on the crate floor. Attach a water cup to the crate door. The cup should be deep, but not too full of water to avoid spilling.
  • On the day of the flight, take your dog for a long walk before leaving for the airport.
  • At the end of the trip, pick up your dog promptly.
Certain countries and island destinations require a quarantine period for animals at the owner’s expense. Ask your travel agent or the consul of the country you plan to visit about quarantines.

Health and Identification

  • Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • If the mosquito season begins earlier or ends later in the area you will be visiting, make sure you bring the appropriate heartworm protection.
  • Be certain your dog is wearing an identification tag giving his name, your name and home address and telephone number including the area code.
  • Take along color pictures of your dog and a written description of his colorings and distinguishing marks. Record your dog's body size and weight. If he is lost, these identification aids could make the difference in locating him.

Packing for Your Dog

  • Carry your dog’s health and rabies certificates with you. They may be needed if you fly anywhere or may be required if you board your dog during your trip.
  • Pack your dog’s water and food bowls, grooming equipment and any heartworm or other medicine it may require
  • If you are not certain that your dog’s usual diet will be available at your destination, take a supply with you to avoid digestive upsets which could be caused by a sudden diet change.
At your vacation site, observe all rules and regulations regarding pets. Confine your dog in a carrier or restricted space when leaving him alone. Your consideration will help keep dogs welcome guests.