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How to Vacation With a Dog

Reviewed by Vanessa Farner, DVM on July 08, 2021

Taking your dog on vacation can be fun — but stressful. Following some simple tips can make it easier for you and your beloved canine to enjoy a great trip together. Preparation is key and can help reduce any stress that comes with traveling with your pooch. Remember, as long as you're calm, your dog will be calm, too.

Getting Ready

Before you hop in your car or head to the airport, prepare your dog for travel, make sure they're healthy, and check the most up-to-date rules and regulations regarding pets on any form of transportation you plan on taking and any accommodation you've booked.

To prepare your dog for your trip, you'll need to start with some basic training. This includes getting them used to crates and honing their obedience skills. Here are some steps to follow to get your pooch ready for the road:

Get the right crate. Crates help dogs stay safe and comfortable in cars and are required on airplanes. Find a crate with a sturdy bottom that’s big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in comfortably. Make sure the crate stays well ventilated so your dog can get lots of fresh air. Put a “live animal” sticker on the side of the crate with your phone number and address. 

Arrange a health check. Make sure your dog is healthy. Take them to the vet for a check-up and to update all vaccinations. You'll need health and vaccine certifications to fly on an airplane with your dog. 

Prepare for motion sickness. Dogs can get carsick. Make sure your dog has an empty stomach before traveling. This will help reduce the risk of nausea and vomiting.

Organize their food and medicine. Bring your dog’s regular food and medicine and make sure to give it to them as you usually do. Remember to bring bottled water and a travel bowl so that your dog has plenty of fresh, clean water on the trip.

Get them used to riding in a car. If you’re taking a road trip, stop often for pee and water breaks. This will help stop accidents in the car. Remember, though, that traveling can be stressful for dogs, and they might vomit or pee accidentally. 

Don’t let your dog ride in the back of an open truck. Your dog should be restrained in some way to stay safe. If you stop to sightsee, don’t leave your dog alone in a hot or cold car. If you're renting a car, make sure you’re allowed to have a pet in the car.

Check airplane rules. You're fully responsible for your dog's health and safety when it comes to bringing your pet on a plane. Every airline has different rules about dogs on flights. You might be able to have your dog in the cabin with you as long as the crate fits under the seat in front of you, but dogs can only travel as live cargo if the weather and temperature is safe. 

It's also a good idea to check the temperature of your starting point and destination to make sure it’s not too hot or cold for your dog.

Confirm that your accommodations are pet-friendly. Make sure that your hotel accepts pets and remember to request a pet-friendly room. Don't leave your dog alone in the hotel room. New places can be stressful for dogs and they might make a mess of the room. Put a comfy bed inside their crate and bring your dog’s favorite toy to keep them happy. 

Have their identification ready. Carry your dog’s health and vaccine certifications and a recent picture. Keep tags on your dog with your name and phone number. 

Risks and Benefits of Vacationing With Your Dog

Vacationing with your dog has its pros and cons. Some benefits include:

  • Saving money on boarding kennels
  • Having your dog along for the fun
  • Being able to monitor your dog while they’re with you
  • Less stress and worry about what’s happening to them while you’re gone

Sometimes it seems like it’s better to take your dog with you, but that might not always be the case. Some risks to vacationing with your dog include:

  • Stress for you and your dog
  • Dealing with accidents or stressed behavior
  • Unsafe weather and temperatures that could be dangerous for your dog
  • Extra costs and pet fees
  • You can’t leave your dog alone 
  • Your dog might have a negative reaction to the car, airplane, crate, or strangers

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Kennel Club: “The Complete Guide to Traveling With Your Dog – American Kennel Club.”

VCA Hospitals: “Airplane Travel with Your Dog,” “Road Trips and Car Travel With Your Dog.”

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