How to Travel with Your Dog

The golden Labrador Retriever is sitting in the SUV, with their suitcase, ready for vacation, The Golden Labrador Retriever knows how to travel. Hampton Park Veterinary Hospital, Charleston's Veterinarian, Charleston, SCPlanning is Key

First things first, you have to plan your journey with your furry friend in mind. This is not just about where you’ll be going, but how you’ll get there, where you’ll stay, and what activities you’ll be doing once you arrive. This is where the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) comes in handy as they provide comprehensive resources for how to travel with your dog.


Try to opt for pet-friendly accommodation and make sure there are plenty of opportunities for your dog to get some exercise. Also, make sure you’re familiar with local laws and regulations regarding pets.

Up-to-Date Health Check-ups and Vaccinations

Before you embark on your journey, it’s crucial to ensure that your dog is in good health. Schedule a visit to your vet to ensure all vaccinations are up-to-date, and your dog is fit for travel. Some destinations may require specific vaccinations or health certificates, so check in advance. Always travel with your dog’s medical records, too, in case of emergency.

The Essential: Packing for Your Dog

Traveling with a dog means packing not just for yourself but also for your pet. Essential items include:

  • Enough food and water for the journey, plus a little extra just in case
  • A leash and harness
  • Your dog’s bed or a blanket to help them feel secure
  • Favorite toys to keep them entertained
  • Any necessary medications
  • Waste bags for clean-up duties

Making the Journey Comfortable

Your dog’s comfort during the journey is crucial, particularly if traveling long distances. If you’re driving, plan regular stops for bathroom breaks and exercise. Keep the car well-ventilated and never leave your dog in a hot car.

For air travel, contact your airline to understand their specific pet policies. Some allow small dogs in the cabin, while others may require pets to travel in the cargo hold.

Managing Anxiety

Travel can be stressful for dogs. You can help minimize their anxiety by maintaining a regular feeding and walking routine as much as possible. Bring along a familiar blanket or toy to provide a sense of comfort and familiarity. If your dog is particularly anxious, speak to your vet about possible solutions such as anxiety wraps or calming supplements.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Always be prepared for emergencies. This means having a first-aid kit for your dog, being aware of the location of vet hospitals at your destination, and having a plan if your dog gets lost.

Acclimatizing Your Dog to Travel

If your dog hasn’t traveled much before, it might be a good idea to gradually get them used to the experience. Start with short trips around your neighborhood or town. Then, gradually increase the distance and duration of your outings. This will help your dog adjust to the sensation and dynamics of traveling.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated and Fed

Just like us, our canine companions also need to stay hydrated and fed during travel. However, don’t feed them right before the journey as it may lead to an upset stomach. Feed your pet a light meal a few hours before departure. During the trip, keep fresh water available, especially during hot weather.

Mind the Temperature

Dogs can be very sensitive to temperature changes. Whether it’s a chilly airplane cabin or a hot car, make sure to keep your furry friend’s comfort in mind. Never leave your dog unattended in a car, particularly in hot weather months. Within a short time, the temperatures inside a car can rise dramatically, leading to heatstroke or even death.

Traveling Internationally

If you’re traveling internationally, you need to check with the specific pet import regulations of the country you’re visiting. Some countries have strict quarantine rules for pets. You may need to apply for a pet passport, which will include your dog’s vaccination record and proof of a recent health check.

Respect Others

Not everyone is a dog lover. When you’re traveling with your dog, it’s important to be respectful of other people’s space. Keep your dog on a leash in public places and prevent them from barking excessively, particularly in hotels or other shared accommodations. This will ensure a pleasant experience not only for you and your dog but for those around you as well.

Don’t Forget to Capture the Moments

Traveling with your dog can create a host of memorable experiences that you’ll want to remember for years to come. Bring along a camera or use your smartphone to snap pictures of your dog enjoying the new environment. These memories will bring you joy long after your trip is over.

Safety First on Hiking Trips

If you’re planning to hit the trails with your dog, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Ensure your dog is physically fit for the hike and always keep them on a leash. Remember, not all trails are pet-friendly, so double-check before you set off.

Consider a Microchip

If your dog isn’t already microchipped, you might want to consider this before traveling. A Microchip is a small device implanted under your dog’s skin that contains your contact information. This can be a lifesaver if your dog gets lost during your travels.

Use Dog-Friendly Apps

There are several handy apps available to make traveling with your dog easier. Apps like BringFido can help you locate dog-friendly parks, beaches, and other attractions wherever you’re headed.

Recognize Your Dog’s Limits

Just like humans, dogs have their limits. Some dogs are adventurous and love exploring new places, while others prefer the comfort of their home. Respect your dog’s feelings and never force them into situations that make them uncomfortable.

Your Dog’s Health is Paramount

While traveling, keep an eye on your dog’s health. Look for any signs of illness, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or unusual behavior. If your dog appears sick, seek veterinary help immediately.

Post-Travel Health Check-up

Once you return home, it’s a good idea to schedule a post-travel check-up with your vet. Make an appointment with your veterinarian. This is particularly important if you’ve traveled internationally, as your pet may have been exposed to different diseases or parasites.

Traveling with your dog can be a rewarding experience filled with fun and bonding. However, it requires careful preparation and a considerate approach to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety. With these tips and guidelines, you and your dog are ready for a fantastic and enjoyable trip. Happy Travels!