Whether you’re just taking a much-needed vacation or are in the middle of making a life-changing move to a new home, making travel plans with your pet pooch can be a challenge. Finding the best ways to travel with a dog can be a time-consuming task. So, to help you out, here are some tips about the best ways to travel with a dog:#1: Traveling with Your Dog in the Car
Can you drive with a pet? Of course you can! In fact, driving is the best way to travel with a dog. This is because you’re able to take frequent breaks to let your dog out of the car and get exercise, you don’t have to be separated from them (helping to alleviate separation anxiety), and you can pack their favorite foods, treats, and toys with you in the car.
However, to ensure the best pet travel experience for your canine companion, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
- Protect Your Pooch with a Travel Crate/Kennel. While letting your dog freely roam your car might sound nice and can help keep them entertained, it is not safe for you or your dog. A dog who’s roaming the cab of your vehicle could end up getting thrown out of the vehicle or getting seriously hurt if you have to stop suddenly or get into an accident—or the roaming dog could cause an accident. To protect your pooch, it’s vital to use a dog travel crate and secure it in place in the back seat—otherwise, a deploying air bag could cause injury. Soft-sided pet carriers may be preferable, though not all dogs can fit in such carriers (your dog should have enough room to stand and turn around). For hard kennels, try to place your pet’s favorite bed inside to increase their comfort on long journeys. Also, be sure to pack a water bottle so your dog can stay healthy and hydrated on the trip.
- Take Frequent Breaks. While many dogs can often handle short car rides without suffering much from motion sickness, longer trips can be much more taxing on them. So, it’s important to take frequent breaks every few hours to avoid causing your beloved pet too much stress. Additionally, your dogs may need to take regular stops to do their business so they don’t make a mess in their crate. The American Kennel Club also recommends not overfeeding your dog before a trip to reduce the risk of carsickness, though you should “make sure he has plenty of water at all times.” When leaving your car, your dog should have their collar, ID tag, and a leash to avoid potential problems.
- Be Sure to Update Your Dog’s Vaccinations. Before leaving on a long-distance trip with your dog, it’s vital to ensure that their vaccinations are up to date—especially if you’re going to be crossing state boundaries. This is vital for protecting your dog’s health when your “pet travel” is complete.
- NEVER Leave Your Dog Unattended in the Car. Even in “good” weather, you should never leave your pet alone in the car. As noted by the Humane Society: “Heat is a serious hazard: when it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour.” This can cause hyperthermia and even death. The Humane Society further recommends that if you find an abandoned pet in a vehicle, you should contact the authorities if you can’t find the vehicle’s owner nearby to have them let their pet out. The best way to avoid problems is to take your pet with you whenever you leave your car.
- Bring a Friend. If you can, bring along a second person who can split driving and pet care duties when you’re driving with “pet cargo.” This second person can watch over your pet when you need to go to the bathroom or into a store where your dog might not be allowed—which helps avoid the unattended pet issue.
So, can you drive with a pet? Yes, but you do need to be careful and well-prepared to ensure the best pet travel experience for your dog.
#2: Flying with a Dog
A popular alternative to driving with your dog is flying with your dog. However, just like with driving your dog, there are some preparations that you will need to make when flying with a dog:
- Get to Know Airport Pet Policy Guidelines. It’s vital that you know what your airport’s policies are regarding traveling with pets. For example, do they have specific requirements for dog travel crates? Is your dog one of the breeds on their restricted travel list? How big of a dog can you take with you as a carry-on? Do you have to ship your dog as pet cargo? Some airlines have different policies from others, so it’s important to investigate the specific rules of the company you plan to fly with.
- If Your Dog Has to Fly Cargo, Get a Sturdy Crate. You want to make sure your dog is well-protected in the cargo hold of the plane, so be sure to pick a strong dog travel crate for your beloved pooch.
- Try to Pick Direct Flights for Your Dog, When Possible. Being stuck in the cargo hold can be incredibly stressful for a dog, as they may spend the whole flight unattended in their crate. Picking direct flights helps minimize the amount of time they spend in cargo or being carried around by unfamiliar people, which helps reduce the stress they experience.
- Consider Alternative Travel Methods. Ask yourself: “How safe is flying for a dog?” The answer depends on the dog’s breed. Some dogs are at a higher risk of illness or injury when traveling by air. For example, many snub-nosed dog breeds can suffer respiratory failure in cargo hold conditions on a flight. Combined with the lack of constant observation, this creates a significant risk of death for pugs, bulldogs, and other brachycephalic breeds. Many airlines refuse to ship dogs that have shorter muzzles to avoid liability. So, if flying poses an undue risk to your dog’s health, you should consider using alternative pet cargo services to propel your pooch to your destination.
You should research your airline well before deciding to bring your dog with you on your flight. Also, whenever possible, try to take your dog as a carry-on if they’re of a breed that is small enough to qualify under your airline’s pet policy. The conditions in the cabin are generally much better and more stable than those inside the cargo hold, and your pet isn’t as likely to suffer from separation anxiety if you’re there with them.
Right now, driving and flying with a dog are the easiest and best pet travel options available for most people. Other travel options, such as shipping your pet by train or by boat, are generally more restricted than travel by plane or car.
Need help safely moving your pet over a long distance? Call (877) My-PetCab today and ask how we can help!