Traveling with Your Dog For the Holidays?

Traveling with your dog requires more planning than it would without your four-legged friend, but with the right prep, dog-inclusive travel can go smoothly for everyone. The big considerations, of course, are your dog’s temperament, transportation requirements, and accommodations upon arrival. 

If you're traveling internationally, we strongly recommend you start your preparations by finding the forms you'll need and the destination country's immunization and other requirements on the USDA APHIS website.


The Golden Rules of Traveling with Your Dog

  • Consider Your Dog’s TemperamentWell-mannered, friendly dogs usually make the best house-guests. Even so, you’ll need to plan feeding/watering/exercising locations along the way, and, if you’re flying, your veterinarian may still recommend sedatives to help Fido relax. After all, you want to make it as easy as possible, and keeping him/her calm will help your trip go smoothly.
  • A Good Carrier - If you’re driving, then you don’t need to worry about kennel size restrictions but if you’re flying, it’s another matter. Since airline restrictions change frequently, your best bet is to call the airline and find out from them what’s allowed. Ideally, you’ll do this before booking your tickets. Some airlines only allow one pet in the cabin even if you have a small dog. Most have rules requiring larger (over 20-25 pounds) dogs to fly cargo, but not all airlines are equipped for this either. The only way to know for sure is to call and confirm your options.
  • Travel Bowls and Food/Treats/Water - Don’t forget to pack the snacks. Depending on how long your trip is, your dog will at least need water along the way. Collapsible travel bowls are perfect for long trips, so when you pack a water bottle and some food in a plastic bag you’ll make sure your dog doesn’t go hungry (or thirsty). Be sure you also have Fido's regular food for when you arrive at your location, and make sure you have enough for the entire length of your stay (plus a few days, just in case). You don't want to have to worry about an upset stomach or diarrhea because of dietary changes!

  • Bring Copies of Health Records - Whether you’re going out of state or taking your pup on international travels, it’s always a good idea to have a copy of up-to-date health records. For domestic travel, they’re useful in case of an emergency and are required by some airlines. For international travel, they’re required for entering another country. You may also need a signed letter from your veterinarian if you’re traveling internationally. Since each country has different requirements (and forms), you’ll want to check the travel guidelines with the embassy and the USDA APHIS website linked above. Because some countries have specific time requirements and waiting periods once vaccines have been administered, it's importhat that you start your preparations for Fido as soon as you know you're going to be traveling. In some cases, you may need to bring him/her to see the veterinarian a month or more in advance, while in other cases, you may need to do so within a day or two of travel. (Some countries have requirements that take up to a year of lead time, so don't put off your preparations!) 
  • Emergency Vet Numbers - If there is an emergency while you’re traveling, you’ll save time and a little bit of sanity if you program your emergency vet’s phone number into your phone AND those of a local emergency veterinarian. Hopefully, you won’t need either, but if you do, then you’ll have them on speed dial.
  • Bring a Favorite Blanket/Toy - If you have room, you should bring a favorite blanket and toy to help Fido feel more secure. Familiar smells and items help soothe dogs, making them less anxious.
  • Pet-Friendly Accommodations - Whether you’re planning on staying with family or staying in a hotel or resort, you’ll need to confirm that your accommodations are pet-friendly. Fortunately, the world has gotten more pet-friendly these days so there are more options than in the past. For lists of hotels (by city and state) that are pet friendly, check out this website or this one.
  • Up-to-Date Pet Tags and Microchips - Ideally, Fido won't get lost while on vacation, but, in the event of the unthinkable, if s/he has current identification tags with your contact information on them and is microchipped (with a registered, updated chip), you have a much better chance of being happily reunited than if s/he doesn't have those things. Additionally, they are often required by airlines and or many international destinations.


If you are traveling with your dog - at any time, not just the holidays - we recommend that you make any necessary arrangements sooner rather than later so you know you’re prepared.  And if you need to get vaccination records or health certificates, make an appointment with us or give us a call!



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