Tips for Traveling with your Dog
Summer may have come to an end, but the holiday travel season will be here sooner than we think. I have taken my dog on many road trips and flown with him several times, so here are some tips and tricks I learned along the way.
- Food - If we’re flying I always pack my dog’s food in my carry-on. He has major allergy issues and is very sensitive so the likelihood of me being able to replace his food should my luggage get lost is slim. I ration it out in plastic bags so that I make sure I know I’m bringing enough and I always pack extra just in case. Last year we went to Colorado and it was so lovely there we decided to extend our trip! I couldn’t have done so had I not packed extra food.
- Medication - Similar with food, if your dog is on any certain medication pack it in your carry on or have it close at hand. My dog isn’t on a daily medication, but since his tummy is so sensitive our vet is happy to prescribe us an anti-nausea medication as well as an appetite stimulant. They’ve both been life-savers on numerous occasions.
- Paperwork - Whether I’m flying or driving I make sure to have copies of our vet paperwork handy. I may be a little over-prepared, but I bring anything I can get my hands on: shot records, health records, medication lists, etc. The last time we flew they wanted to see a copy of our vet paperwork before they checked us in, even though I’d already submitted everything beforehand. It also helps that in case something happens while you’re on your trip and you need to go to the vet you have everything you could need.
- Call ahead of time - I always call the airline the week of my flight to double-check and make sure I have everything in order. One time the airline was missing a crucial piece of paperwork and I had to rush to get everything taken care of the last minute. Not Fun! The airline had also forgotten (or never logged in the first place) that I was bringing my dog. By calling ahead we avoided a disastrous and stressful situation. Calling ahead may mean waiting on hold for 45 minutes, but the peace of mind is worth it.
- Identification - Always make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an ID tag and rabies tag. I may be super type-A about this one, but I always pack a second collar and leash just in case something happens and I need it.
- Potty breaks - If you’re driving this one isn’t so bad because you can pull over whenever you want and give your pup a break, but flying makes things a little more difficult. It’s a fine line between keeping them hydrated and making sure they don’t have to potty too much. You know them better than anyone so listen to them and their needs. Study airport maps before arrival so you can see where the closest relief stations are.
- Safety - If you’re driving with your dog make sure they’re safely secured in the back seat via a seatbelt, carrier, or a car seat. Keeping your dog in the front seat with you is not only distracting, it’s also dangerous. We know families who have lost their pet due to a car accident because their dog was improperly seated in a front seat. If your dog isn’t used to riding in the back, this it may take some for them to become accustomed to it, so I suggest a few dry runs. Drive an hour or two and give them lots of treats and positive reinforcement. It may be hard at first but it’s much safer for all riders.