Traveling with Your Pet

Feature image for traveling your pet
National and international travel with pets is now commonplace and is not only for megastars such as dog lover Paris Hilton, who has the luxury of a private jet. But if you have not taken your furry friend on a flight before, then there are a number of things you have to be aware of, other than the fact that your dog needs to be in good health.

When you are enjoying your vacation, you don’t want to have to leave your four-legged friends behind. However, traveling with pets isn’t easy. Not every hotel allows your friends to stay and there is limited access in other places for your favorite critters. But you don’t have to leave your furry family members at home.

In fact, a study by Best Western International and AAA found that over half of the pet owner’s in the US take their cats and dogs with them when they travel.

In this article, we will cover
We will also cover following travel type:

Travel Within USA

Not many people are aware of the fact that different states have varying health certificate and vaccination requirements, as well as legal restrictions on certain breeds. To find out more information on these two points, contact the Health Department in your destination state, and the US Department of Agriculture.

Traveling Internationally

First off, you need to ensure that you have your dog’s passport as well as any other necessary documents to present to the immigration officers when you: 1. leave the US or any other country; 2. enter the foreign country you are visiting; and 3. return back to the US or other home country. Be sure to allow yourself lots of time before you fly so that you are not in a panic, and are able to arrange the necessary up to date passport and medical documents.

Travel with dog

Visiting the Veterinarian

Once you know you will be traveling abroad, inform your vet right away. This will allow the necessary time to ensure your furry companion is healthy enough for the trip, and that he or she meets your destination country’s entrance regulations. Airlines also have certain requirements. What you have to have varies from country to country, and airline to airline, but are likely to include the following:

  • A Microchip for identification
  • Vaccinations
  • Blood tests

What Do I Need if I am Visiting or Returning to the US?

In both case scenarios, your dog has to be in good health and have documentation showing the mandatory rabies vaccination. The following specifications apply:

  • In order to qualify for the vaccination, your dog should be at least 12 weeks of age
  • If the rabies vaccination is the first one your dog has had, in order for it to be effective, you will need to wait a month prior to traveling
  • If your dog has already had the vaccination but you do not have certification, then take him or her for another vaccination, and still leave it a minimum of a month prior to traveling.
  • If you have a current rabies booster for your grown up dog, you are free to travel without the month’s waiting period.
  • The certificate for a rabies vaccination needs to have valid cover for the entire length of the trip, including the day you arrive back in the US or other home country.
  • In the case of the US, it is important to be aware that different states have varying health certificate and vaccination requirements. In order to find out exactly what you need, contact the Health Department in your destination state prior to traveling
  • Be aware that a number of US states and cities have legal restrictions on certain breeds. And that in the case of particular dogs arriving in America, the Department of Agriculture imposes certain additional restrictions. Working dogs are a prime example.

Road Travel with your dog

Dogs adore the excitement of car rides, and can feel the happy atmosphere if you are going on vacation or a special trip. They love to look out of the windows, and you can see them smiling as they soak up the scenery.

travelling with puppys


The truth is that planning a long road trip with dogs is not always as easy as you may think. And although innovative perks and policies have made it far simpler to check in with furry companions, getting from one place to another can still mean that you can be faced with a few hurdles, and unless you organize things well, it can also be expensive.

According to the US Humane Society, advance planning regarding where you will stop is essential if you want to have a stress-free journey. First off, is checking online for dog friendly hotels that you will need on route and at your destination. The next thing is being sure that you have a viable ID tag on your dog’s collar, just in case he or she wanders off or gets lost. This is a common occurrence, so it should include both your temporary holiday address and your permanent one.

You may check some Essential Dog Accessories

You can then map out a number of pit stops, and think about where you can get easy access to dog friendly areas and pet relief spots during the journey, and at your destination. Then, just before you set off on your journey, make a spot in your vehicle nice and cozy with your pooch’s familiar dog rug or blanket, and put some of his or her best-loved toys within easy chewing reach. You should also take along a good supply of large anti-bacterial wipes and kitchen roll.

When you are on the road, you will need to stop every few hours, and if your furry friend is a senior, then you will need to stop more frequently. Should you leave the car unattended with your pooch inside, something that is never recommended, be sure not to leave your dog inside for longer than 10 minutes, as even if the temperature is not so hot, you pet can still suffer.

Food and Water

Essential dog supplies include food and water. You should always ensure that your pooch is getting regular access to water. There are special water dispensers for dog’s outings and travel, so be sure to get one before setting off, as well as taking a plastic water bowl. The best food for being on the road is dog biscuits, as well as small dog food packets which come in one meal sizes and are easy to open by peeling off the top etc. The dog may be able to eat directly from these, and of not, then buy a packet of throw away paper bowls or plates.

pet travel

Vehicle Safety

It is important to understand that your pooch’s harness is not the same as a seat belt, and so for his or her safety, you should not allow your dog to walk about, or be in the front part of the car where it can distract the driver. If you are driving on the highway, it is advisable to put your dog a robust pet carrier. There are some very nice ones on the market that allow your furry friend to see out from most directions. You can also add one or two toys. If you are going to use a carrier, it is crucial to let your dog get accustomed to it before you actually hit the road. If you do not do this, he or she may become very stressed instead of being in a tail wagging holiday mood. So, you could put the carrier in the house with a few dog biscuits and toys inside to lure your pawed companion in its direction. And you never know, he or she may even sit down in there to have a little nap!

Don’t leave them alone in the car

Remember that it only takes 10 minutes for your car to reach temperatures of 110 degrees on a day that’s 85-degrees. This can be deadly to your pet. Make sure to stop at the store or make all other stops before you start your trip, so that your pet won’t have to sit in the hot car. You can also leave your pet at a pet-friendly hotel once you get there.

Traveling by Train With Your Pet

Just like traveling in a car, pooches also love the excitement of being on a train, and looking through the windows. And sometimes there are other furry creatures on board, including cats, and this can make for an interesting ride!

Me and pet

Do Many Train Companies Allow Dogs?

Some train companies such as Amtrak in the US, have special pet programs on certain routes which allow you to sit with your furry companions. Outside America, it depends on the country and its rail network which may either be run by the state or private companies. To that end, it is very important to make inquiries with the relevant companies. Some countries also require a pet passport just for national travel, and others have limits on the combined weight of the dog and carrier, so be sure to find out all the facts.

Preparing for the Journey

Just as with other forms of travel, you will need a robust pet carrier that your dog is already acquainted with. You will also require essentials such as a comfy dog blanket, harness and lead, and large anti-bacterial wipes and kitchen roll. These are particularly good if your pooch spends a penny, or worse, on the floor of the carriage!

You will also need water and a plastic dog bowl or special pet travel water dispenser. A supply of dog biscuits is essential, and you could also take some small one-meal sized packets of dog food that easy to open by hand. If the dog cannot eat directly from these, then take along some throw away paper bowls or plates.

Air Travel with your dog : Where Will My Dog Be on the Plane Ride?

There are various different rules regarding how and whether a dog can travel. For example, some airlines stipulate that animals have to stay in the cargo hold, while others allow them to enjoy the flight in the cabin for a surcharge, provided that they can sit comfortably in an animal carrier below their owner’s seat. JetBlue allows dogs when together with the carrier, do not exceed 20lbs; and Alaska Airlines only permits French bulldogs and other such breeds that have short noses, to be in cabin accommodation. This is due to the fact that when airborne, these types of pooches have a higher than standard risk of contracting a respiratory disorder.

Travel with plane

The airlines which do not permit pets to be in the cabin, transport dogs in the cargo hold, which has heat and ventilation. However, unlike a cabin, a cargo hold is not lite up as brightly, does not have the same degree of pressure, and is not the same ambient temperature. And when flying at tens of thousands of feet up in the sky, this can make conditions very unpleasant and frightening for an animal that is alone, and has no idea what is going on. Although this sounds very unpleasant, according to the International Air Transport Association, as the hold is darker and less noisy, the animals may rest and travel relatively well. But there are nevertheless, reports of pets suffering.

If you need to catch a connecting flight, you will be responsible for looking after your dog if he or she is being accommodated in the cabin with you.  Conversely, ground handlers or aircraft personnel are assigned to take care of animals which are being transported via cargo. The best course of action is to check these points with the airline/s prior to travel.

Dogs Traveling on a Cargo Plane

Although it is not really a good option, and can be hazardous, this is an alternative method of getting your dog from A to B when there are no other available means. For example, you may need to put your dog on a different flight to you due to the regulations of the country you are heading to, or because of your pooch’s size.

If your furry friend has to travel this way because there are no alternatives, then you must get him or her acquainted with the shipping kennel well in advance. Always double check to ensure that the latches on the door are fully secure, otherwise he or she could break free during transit. And as we know, breaking out and running wild is built into a dog’s DNA!

Consult with your vet regarding how much water and food your pooch should be given. This will depend on the length of the flight, and the size of your dog.  You should also arrange who will collect your dog, well in advance, and ask him or her to go to the airport a little early in case of an earlier than predicted arrival.

Do US Carriers Ship Dogs All Year Round?

Not all carriers ship pets every month of the year. For example, in the US, due to the heat in the Northern Hemisphere, some airlines do not permit animal shipment from May through to September.

Safety First

 When it comes to airline travel, regardless of the month, the safety of your beloved dog should be the number one concern. If the only way to get your dog to your destination is via a cargo plane or in your airplane’s cargo hold, then it is crucial that you buy a robust container which has enough space for your furry friend to be able to lie down, easily turn around, and sit and stand comfortably.

Helping Your Pooch Feel Relaxed and Comfortable

Aside from having a suitable container, putting something in it that your animal is familiar with, such as a small dog blanket, or whatever else they love to curl up on, is an excellent idea; as is putting in one or two of their favorite toys. This will help your pooch feel reassured when he or she is subject to a frightening atmosphere with loud noises and disturbing sensations. Hopefully, this will not last for long; and if your dog is in the cargo hold near other animals, then this can be a very welcome distraction.

Pet and me

In addition to this, the most upsetting part of a plane journey for dogs is the loading and unloading. Because of this, you should do the following:

  • Speak with your vet about the journey
  • Be mindful that the Association for International Air Transport does not recommend that you give your animal tranquilizers or sedatives, as they could be injurious to his or her well-being during the flight
  • Choose flights that have the least layovers and connections
  • Make sure your dog is acquainted with its carrier prior to the flight
  • Select certain times for your arrival and departure so that you are not caught up in extreme temperatures when it will be too cold or hot for your pooch
  • Check in as early as possible if your dog is traveling as cargo; that way you can ask if he or she can be placed in the plane’s low lighted, quiet hold
  • Make sure you allow sufficient time to take your dog for a walk prior to leaving home, and do the same prior to check in
  • If the airline has let you take your dog with you into the cabin, for the purpose of reducing its stress level, do not check in until your pooch is allowed in the cabins

Asking Questions

Although there are now more dog friendly airline and airport services and facilities than in the past, it is still necessary to ask certain questions to make sure that your pawed friend will be safe while jet setting around, and departing and arriving. To that end, prior to booking your plane tickets, contact your favorite airline’s customer service department so that you can get detailed information on the time schedule, what accommodation your pooch will be given while flying, where they go prior to and after the flight, and who will be responsible for him or her. Knowing these things will stop you from worrying and wondering what is happening.

cute pet

Preparing Your Dog for Flight Security

The first important aspect is that professionals do not generally advise giving your dog any form of stress medication either for the flight or checking in or out at the airport. This is due to the fact that these pills can make it harder for your pooch to alter their body temperature. The next thing to consider is the airport’s security screening process. During this time, your furry companion will be taken out of its carrier by the Transport Security Administration. Having him or her on a harness is a very good idea, and is likely to make the process much smoother and quicker.


With enough care and appropriate jet set planning, your four-legged friend will get through the plane rides and checking in and out with ease. And when you both, or in the case of solo dog travel, he or she reaches the destination, your pawed pooch will be wagging their tail double time when they are set free from their container and are back in your arms.

Few Tips while traveling with your pets:

So, if you would rather take your pets along with you on your next vacation, here are some things that you should know to make the trip a lot easier. They will help you make your pets more comfortable on the long car ride and make things easier for you in the process.

1) Practice Runs

Before taking your cat or dog on a long car trip, take a few short trips with them first. That way you can get an idea of how well they do. The worst thing is trying to travel thousands of miles with your pet getting sick a million times. If you find out that your furry friend is not the fan of car trips and you are looking for the best ways to cure your doggie’s motion sickness or keep your loveable cat from getting sick, there are some things you can do.
Me and my pet

2) Lower Stress Association

Your pet may have associated car trips with stress. This is likely because of the trips to the pets or groomers, which can be very stressful for your pet. Especially, when you aren’t there the whole time with them. You can lower stress related to the car ride by utilizing some conditioning techniques.

  • Take a few short trips in another vehicle to break the association with the unpleasant past experiences
  • Take a trip to the places your dog likes, such as, the park
  • Take a break from any car trips right before your vacation
  • Get them warmed up to the idea, by taking the to the car for some time, spending time in the car with the car off, and then take a short trip around the block
  • Give your dog’s treats when they enter the car, but not too many that it makes them sick
  • Giving them special toys for only when they are in the car

3) Medications

If your dog has not outgrown motion sickness, and they aren’t responding to the conditioning techniques discussed above, there is medication that can be used to help them deal with their motion sickness. There are over-the-counter medications and prescription medications that can decrease the symptoms of motion sickness for your dog. These include anti-nausea pills, antihistamines, that lessen drooling, and motion sickness. Other prescription drugs can reduce vomiting, as well. Both antihistamines and vomit reduction drugs provide sedation, which can lessen anxiety. It is important to check with your veterinarian before giving your pet any over the counter medication to make sure that it is safe and to verify the dosage and other concerns.

4)    Keep them hydrated

The ASPCA suggests that you keep a gallon of water on hand during long car trips to ensure that your pet stays hydrated. You will want to take frequent breaks to allow your dog to hydrate and use the bathroom. The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that you stop every two to three hours to let your pet get some exercise and use the bathroom.

The Bottom Line

We must always remember that our beloved furry friends are much smaller than us, have a different physiology, their own unique personality, and do not always understand what is going on around them. So, whenever we travel with our dogs, it crucial that we are sensitive toward their needs; and that we find out, arrange, and prepare everything well in advance. With thorough planning, our much-loved pooches will have a safe journey, wag their tails a lot, and love vacationing as much as we do.

If you plan ahead, you will be able to take them with you, so that all your family can enjoy the trip.

Leave a Reply