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15 Tips To Make Traveling With Your Dog As Stress-Free As Possible

| Published on November 22, 2023
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Are you finally going on a vacation where your dog can join you? If so, you may be starting to panic on what exactly you need to do before and during your trip. To ensure everything goes smoothly, below are 15 tips for traveling with your dog.

1. Don’t feed your dog within 3 hours of travel

This is especially crucial if your dog has a sensitive stomach. By not feeding them right before travel, you reduce the risk of them vomiting on the go or having to go the bathroom at an inconvenient time.

Buckling dog into car

2. Take your dog to potty within the final hour of departure

If possible, take them for a walk before you leave to ensure they get it all out of their system. It’s always a bonus if you can get them to go “number two.”

3. Only pack the food and treats you need

For most trips, there’s no need to carry a full bag of dog food around. So, only pack the amount of meals you’ll need for your trip, plus a little bit extra just to be safe. It can help save you space when packing.

Packing for vacation with dog

4. Dogs can comfortably go over 8 hours between meals

While you should normally feed your dog around the same time every day, feeding an anxious dog in the car or on a plane likely won’t end well. They may refuse the food due to stress or eat it and get sick later. So, it’s best to wait until you’re not in a moving vehicle to give your pup their food, unless there’s a medical reason they need it sooner.

5. Don’t forget a dog water bottle

Even though you won’t want your dog to need to pee too much during travel, you should still be giving them access to water whenever you stop. An easy way to pack water for your dog is to get the Springer Classic Dog Travel Water Bottle. This water bottle comes with an attached bowl on the top, and when you squeeze the bottle, the bowl fills with water so your dog can drink from it. Then, when you stop squeezing it, the water returns into the bottle to ensure you don’t waste any.

Dalmatian drinking from Springer water bottle

6. Pack their favorite toy(s)

Familiar toys provide a sense of comfort for many dogs. So, make sure you bring your dog’s favorite toys and keep them easily accessible during travel. That way, you can quickly grab a toy if your dog seems like they want to play or snuggle with it.

7. If possible, tire them out before departure

A long walk before you travel isn’t just for bathroom breaks. It can also help tire your pup out so they’ll be more likely to nap during the trip. If you have a high-energy dog, you’ll likely need a more intense exercise, such as running or a long session of fetch.

Dog going on hike

8. Make sure your dog is properly microchipped

Ensure your dog’s microchip is up-to-date with your current information because a phone number that’s no longer in use won’t help bring your dog home. Many dogs get lost when they’re in new environments, so it’s always good to plan ahead in case of an emergency.

Also, keep a collar with ID tags on your dog in case someone finds them but doesn’t know to check for a microchip. The collar should be “comfortably snug” so you can fit two thumbs between their collar and neck. If the collar is too loose, your dog could slip out or get caught on something.

9. Make sure all their shots and medications are up-to-date

You never know what viruses or parasites could be present, especially in new environments. Make sure your pup is up-to-date on all recommended vaccines. If they take medications, make sure you have enough packed for the entire trip.

Dog vet checkup

10. Pack a comfy blanket or a garment that smells like you

Familiarity is key to a dog’s comfort when in a new location. Bringing a dog bed is great, but if it’s too bulky, a cozy blanket or piece of your clothing will help ease anxiety during travel or at the destination. Anything that smells like home can make your furry friend feel more relaxed.

11. Plan to remain as close to your dog as possible for the duration of the journey

Your dog will feel the most comfortable in an unfamiliar setting if you’re there to comfort them. So, give them plenty of attention whenever possible to help ease their nerves.

woman cuddling dog outside

12. Research airports and rest stops that have designated doggy areas

Many airports in America now have designated dog areas within the airport compound, whether that’s a dog park or a dog potty area. Most rest areas off driving highways are also dog-friendly.

Research ahead of time to figure out where you can stop to stretch your legs and let your dog do their business. If you’re flying and the airport doesn’t have an indoor dog bathroom, make sure you have them do their business outside before you go through security.

13. If you’re traveling internationally, learn the requirements to bring your dog into that country

Not all places have the same pet regulations, so be sure to research your destination ahead of time. Some will require different paperwork just to get your dog into the country, and if you’re not prepared, you may have to turn around.

Dog in airplane carrier

14. Check out the forecast for your destination.

What will the weather be like at your destination? Will your pup need a doggy jacket or boots? Take these factors into consideration and plan accordingly. Make gear easily accessible for departure and arrival, if necessary.

15. Make sure your dog is healthy enough for travel

Gauge if your dog is in overall good health and use common sense. You wouldn’t want to travel if you’re feeling under-the-weather, so don’t push your pet to travel unless they are in optimum health. Taking your dog in for a vet checkup before your vacation is the best way to ensure they’re ready for travel.

Family road trip with dog

Not sure if your dog will do well while traveling? Consider leaving them home with a trusted pet sitter. Check out our Review of TrustedHouse Sitters to learn about finding the best sitter for your furry friend.

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