1 Talk to Your Veterinarian
Is your dog healthy enough to travel? Are they up to date on all their necessary vaccines? Is their microchip still in place and scannable? Check in with your veterinarian before finalizing your travel plans, and if your dog is due for a checkup, schedule it before you leave.
2 Pack Your Pup’s Medical and Vaccine Records
Health certificates and records of your pet's rabies vaccination and other shots will come in handy if your dog needs medical care while you’re traveling. Plus, if you’re planning to enter another country on your trip, you may need them to cross the border with your pup.
3 Update ID Tags and Microchip
In new surroundings, it’s easy for dogs to get lost. We know you’ll take every precaution to keep your pup by your side, but just in case, make sure that their ID tags have your current contact information on them, and that the info is up to date with your microchip company, too.
4 Carry Their Food, Treats and Medications With You
When it comes to essentials like food and medicine, it’s best to have a supply on your person in case your luggage goes missing. Having treats handy is helpful for a different reason: Encouraging your dog to behave in new, exciting surroundings!
5 Pack Their Favorite Things
For dogs, traveling to a new place can be exciting—but also a little stressful. Familiar items from home can soothe their nerves, so toss some favorite toys, their bed, or a special blanket into your suitcase.
6Plan Their Potty and Exercise Breaks
Traveling with a dog is a lot like traveling with a small child: Both need frequent potty breaks and opportunities to run and play. If you’re driving, look for dog-friendly rest stops along your route. Before flying, find out where your dog can relieve themselves at your departure and arrival airports. Either way, a supply of dog poop bags is essential.
7Keep Them Hydrated
Dogs need access to water whether they’re traveling or not—and refusing water can lead to dehydration. Pack a travel bowl and let your pet drink during breaks.
9Book Pet-Friendly Accommodations
Many hotels, resorts and vacation rentals have dog-friendly policies, but in some places, dogs aren’t allowed. Before you book your stay, make sure your pup is welcome, and ask about any additional fees you may be charged for bringing them along.
10Stay on Leash
New places can be exciting and distracting for dogs, even those who can be trusted to roam off-leash at home. Keep your dog on leash while you’re traveling to make sure they stay by your side.
1 Take Practice Trips
If your dog isn’t used to car travel, start small. Before your long haul, take short practice drives with your dog. Make sure to end your drive someplace fun, like the dog park or a favorite store—that’ll teach them that spending time in the car is a good thing!
2 Safety First
You rely on your seat belt to protect you in case of accidents. Doesn’t your dog deserve the same protection? Make sure your pup is secure whenever you’re driving, whether it’s in a car seat, using a seat belt, or some combination of the two.
3 Fight the Fur
Dogs can be messy, so some advance backseat prep can save you hours of cleaning after your trip. A car seat cover can keep your dog’s fur, drool, potty accidents and more from putting a dent in your car’s resale value.
4 Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
A tired dog is a happy dog, so make sure to give your pup lots of playtime before your trip, and stop often along the route so they can get their zoomies out. Physical activity can help dogs manage any anxiety they’re feeling about the trip—and just might result in a peaceful mid-drive nap.
5 Pack the Necessities
At minimum, your dog will need water and a vessel to drink from on your journey, and if you’re traveling during their usual mealtimes, you’ll need to provide food as well.
A few favorite toys will help keep them busy during long stretches on the road.
And of course, don’t forget the poop bags—picking up after your pup at rest stops is the responsible thing to do.
Road Trip Essentials
Is My Dog Allowed on the Plane?
Here’s the good news: Many airlines have dog-friendly pet policies that allow you to bring your pup with you in the cabin of the plane. But the rules of each airline are different, so it’s important to find out the details of your unique flight in advance. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
Airlines are required to allow service animals to fly with their parent in the plane cabin, except in cases where the animal violates safety requirements, poses a threat to other passengers, causes significant disruption or violates health requirements. Remember: Service animals are not the same as emotional support animals. The U.S. Department of Transportation defines service animals as “a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.”
Some airlines require veterinary proof of vaccinations and an indemnification or waiver from the traveler. Ask your airline about the required documents you’ll have to provide, and when possible, fill out any necessary forms in advance to save yourself stress at check-in.
Most airlines specify maximum sizes and/or weights for dogs, carriers or both. Before booking, ask your airline about their size requirements and measure or weigh your pet and your carrier to ensure they fall within the allowed limits.
Many airlines also charge an additional fee for flying with a dog. To avoid budget-breaking surprises at the airport, ask your airline about their pet fees in advance.
So what are your airline’s pet policies?
We’ve rounded up the rules of the top domestic airlines here. Regulations change frequently, so for the most up to date information, ask your airline directly. International flights often have additional rules and regulations in place for pets, so call your airline ahead of time to ask about their specific requirements.
Air Travel Safety: What to Know
Dogs Fly in the Cabin
Though some airlines offer to ship pets in the cargo hold, the part of the plane that carries checked baggage, dog experts advise against it. In cargo, your dog will have to endure loud engine noise and temperatures that can be very hot or very cold. The experience is stressful and overwhelming, even for dogs who are well trained to be comfortable in their kennel. Most dog experts strongly suggest bringing your dog with you as an in-cabin passenger—even if it means giving up a carry-on.
Consider Your Dog’s Breed
Some veterinarians recommend against bringing brachycephalic, or flat-faced dogs, such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers, on planes because of their sensitivity to pressure changes, recycled air and other environmental conditions. Ask your veterinarian if your dog is considered high-risk for health issues while flying.
Airports can be hectic, overstimulating environments for dogs, which can bring out behaviors in them that you’d never expect in calmer, more familiar surroundings. Keep your dog on leash or in their carrier throughout the airport to protect them from getting lost or responding negatively to fellow passengers.
It's also a good idea to look up a map of any airports where you might be spending time with your dog, whether it's on a layover or your place of arrival, to scope out pet relief areas you may need to use when you land.
Dogs on Amtrak Trains
All aboard, train travelers—even furry ones. Amtrak trains allow dogs on most routes, with the following restrictions:
- You must provide a pet carrier, which must be leak proof and well ventilated. The maximum size is 19" long x 14" wide x 10.5" high.
- Your dog must be at least eight weeks old and odorless, harmless, not disruptive and require no attention during travel.
- The combined weight of your dog and their carrier must be 20 pounds or less.
- You must sign a Pet Release and Indemnification Agreement for each travel segment.
- Your pet must remain inside their carrier while on the train and in train stations.
- Dogs are not allowed in First class, non-Acela Business class, bedroom accommodations or food service cars.
Visit Amtrak.com/pets for the company’s full pet policy.
Dogs on Greyhound Buses
There are just two types of dogs you’ll see on a Greyhound bus. One is the dog in the Greyhound logo painted on the side of your vehicle. The other is a trained service dog who’s there to help a disabled passenger. That’s right—apart from service animals, no pets are allowed on Greyhound buses. (Remember: Service animals are different from emotional support animals and therapy animals.)
Different local and regional bus services have different pet policies. Ask your bus company about their policy for dogs on board.
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Traveling With Dogs: FAQs
Q:What is the best travel crate for dogs?
Q:Which airlines allow dogs?
Q:How can I help my anxious dog when we travel?
Q:What are the most important things to pack when traveling with my dog?