young couple and their dog traveling together by a car

Pro Tips for Traveling with Dogs for a Pawsitive Journey

Thinking of a holiday getaway? Visiting family? Traveling with our furry friends can be a tail-wagging adventure filled with excitement and bonding. However, whether you’re hitting the road, taking to the skies, or cruising the seas, embarking on a journey with your canine companion requires a bit of extra planning.

After all, you want the journey to be comfortable and safe for both you and your pooch. So, in this guide, we’ll unleash some pro tips for traveling with dogs to ensure a stress-free and fun trip for you and your four-legged friend.

Ready for take-off?

Is Traveling Stressful for Dogs?

How well your dog handles travel stress is like their own little adventure story. Depending on their past escapades, unique personality quirks, and overall character, the journey can either be a breeze or a bit of a tail-chasing challenge!

Just like us, dogs can experience stress when traveling. The unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells, coupled with the change in routine, can be overwhelming for our furry friends. However, with proper preparation and thoughtful considerations, as a responsible dog owner, you can minimize stress and make the journey enjoyable for everyone involved.

Understanding Canine Stress

What can cause stress when traveling with dogs?

  • New Environments: Dogs are creatures of habit, and sudden changes in their surroundings can be unsettling. Whether it’s a new car, airplane, or hotel room, the unfamiliar setting can trigger stress.
  • Travel Anxiety: Some dogs are naturally more anxious than others. If your pup is prone to anxiety, the travel experience may be more challenging. Signs of stress include excessive panting, pacing, whining, or even vomiting.
  • Motion Sickness: Just like some humans, dogs can experience motion sickness during car rides or flights. This can add an extra layer of discomfort to their travel experience.

How Do I Calm My Dog while Traveling? Pro Tips to Minimize Stress when Traveling with Dogs

Let’s go through some useful tips to transform your canine companion from an anxious traveler to a zen adventurer.

1. Familiarity is Key: When traveling with dogs, bring along your dog’s favorite toys, blankets, and even a piece of your clothing. Familiar scents can provide comfort and a sense of security in a new environment.

2. Gradual Introductions: If your dog isn’t accustomed to travel, start with short trips to help them acclimate to the experience. This can help reduce anxiety and make longer journeys more manageable.

3. Comfortable Carriers: Invest in a cozy and well-ventilated pet carrier for your dog. Familiarize them with the carrier before the trip, using positive reinforcement like natural, vegan treats and praise.

4. Regular Breaks: Whether you’re road-tripping or flying, schedule regular breaks for potty and stretch breaks. This allows your dog to relieve themselves and burn off excess energy.

5. Vet Checkup: Ensure your dog is in good health before embarking on a journey. Discuss any specific travel concerns with your vet and confirm that vaccinations and health records are up to date.

6. Calming Aids: Consult with your veterinarian about safe calming aids, such as pheromone sprays or natural supplements. These can help take the edge off for dogs prone to anxiety.

7. Positive Associations: Turn travel into a positive experience by associating it with enjoyable activities. Offer treats, playtime, or a favorite toy when introducing your dog to the travel environment.

8. Practice Makes Perfect: If you know your dog will be flying, practice going through security procedures at home. This includes getting them used to being in their carrier for extended periods.

Road Tripping: Bark if You Love It

Labrador retriever looking through window on road

What if you’re hitting the open road? Here’s the scoop.

1. Secure the Ride: Just like us, dogs need a safe and comfortable ride. Invest in a sturdy pet carrier or harness to keep your pup secure during the journey.

2. Pit Stops and Potty Breaks: Plan your route with dog-friendly pit stops. Dogs need breaks for bathroom breaks and leg stretches, just like we do.

3. Pack a Puppy Travel Kit: Prepare a travel bag with essentials like food, water, favorite toys, and a cozy blanket. Don’t forget the poop bags—your fellow travelers will thank you!

4. “Are We There Yet?” Distractions: Keep your dog entertained with chew toys or puzzle feeders. A bored dog can turn your serene road trip into a howling chorus due to the lack of stimulation and exercise.

Taking to the Skies: Flying High with Furry Friends

Get ready for a seamless takeoff with these essential tips for navigating the skies when traveling with dogs on an ariplane.

1. Check Airline Pet Policies: Different airlines have various rules for pet travel. Ensure you understand the specific regulations, including pet carriers, combined weight limits, and carry-on fees when you book flights.

2. Service Animals in the Sky: If you have a service animal, be aware of the airline’s specific policies. Most carriers welcome service animals but may require advance notice.

3. Health Certificates and Vaccinations: For international flights, ensure your dog’s health records are up to date. A health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination are often mandatory.

4. Pet Carrier Mastery: Invest in a well-ventilated and appropriately sized pet carrier with a leak-proof bottom and/or place an absorbent material on the bottom. Airlines often have specific requirements, so double-check dimensions and materials.

5. Navigate the Cabin: Some airlines allow small dogs in the plane cabin. If this is an option, book early, as there is usually a limit to the number of pets allowed in the cabin.

6. Pet Relief at Airports: Major airports now offer pet relief areas. Check the airport map to locate these designated spots, allowing your furry friends to relieve themselves comfortably.

Sailing Smoothly: Cruising with Canines

Will your journey involve some waves? Here’s what to do:

1. Understand Cruise Pet Policies: Before setting sail, familiarize yourself with the cruise line’s pet policy. Some cruises only accommodate service animals, while others have pet-friendly cabins.

2. Get the Sea Legs Ready: If your dog is new to boating, gradually introduce them to the sensation of being on water. Bring familiar items like their bed to create a sense of comfort.

3. Seasick Solutions: Just like humans, dogs can experience seasickness. Consult with your vet about safe and effective options to ease any potential discomfort.

4. “Paws” for Shore Excursions: Research pet-friendly shore excursions and destinations. Some ports may have restrictions, so plan accordingly.

5. Secure Accommodations: If your cruise involves overnight stays, ensure that your accommodations are pet-friendly. Double-check the onboard facilities, such as designated pet relief areas.

Chow Down on the Go: Navigating Food Concerns when Traveling with Dogs

blue and pink dog food bowls with dog bones

Wondering about the ins and outs of keeping your pet’s taste buds satisfied and stomach calm on the road? Let’s sink our teeth into the world of canine cuisine when traveling with dogs.

From timing their meals to the best ways to transport raw and dry dog food, we’ve got your back (and your dog’s bowl).

How Long Before Traveling Should I Feed My Dog?

Timing your dog’s meals before travel is crucial for their comfort. Ideally, feed your furry friend 3 to 4 hours before hitting the road or taking to the skies. This should give them enough time to digest their food and reduce the risk of an upset stomach during the journey. 

Should You Feed Your Dog on a Road Trip?

Absolutely! In fact, it’s essential to keep your canine companion well-fed during a road trip. Plan regular pit stops for both potty breaks and meals. Pack your dog’s favorite Little Chef’s natural dog treats, kibble, and portable water bowls. A well-fed pup is a content copilot.

However, if your furry friend tends to get motion sickness, consider adjusting the timing of their meals. Offer a light snack instead of a full meal right before hitting the road to prevent any tummy troubles.

What Should I Feed My Dog While Traveling?

Stick to your dog’s regular diet as much as possible to avoid digestive upsets. Pack their usual brand of kibble, and if you’re introducing new treats or food, do so gradually before the trip. Bring along extra portions in case of unexpected delays. 

Consistency is key when it comes to your dog’s diet, ensuring a happy and healthy travel experience.

What Is the Best Way to Transport Dog Food?

Opt for airtight containers to keep your dog’s food fresh and prevent any unwanted odors. Consider pre-portioning meals into sealed bags for convenience. Sturdy containers also safeguard against accidental spills or leaks, ensuring that your pup’s food arrives at your destination as intended.

If you’re crossing borders or engaging in airline travel, it’s vital to check and comply with specific regulations regarding pet food to avoid any hiccups during your journey.

How Do You Pack Raw Dog Food for Travel?

When it comes to raw dog food, meticulous packing is crucial. Use leak-proof containers to prevent any messes, and ensure that the food remains well-chilled during the journey. Consider bringing along a small cooler with ice packs for longer trips. 

Remember, safety and hygiene are paramount when dealing with raw food on the go.

The Essential Carry-On Bag for Your Canine Companion

A beagle dog in a suitcase with things and accessories

When jet-setting or hitting the open road with your four-legged co-pilot, a well-prepared carry-on bag is your secret weapon. Packed with essentials, this bag should include:

  • Health Records: Keep a copy of your dog’s health records, including vaccination certificates, in a waterproof pouch. These documents are your golden ticket to hassle-free travel.
  • Medications: If your pup has any prescribed medications, ensure you have an ample supply for the duration of the trip. Pack them in a secure, easily accessible compartment.
  • Familiar Comforts: Include a favorite toy or blanket to provide comfort and a sense of familiarity in new environments.

Meeting Health Requirements: A Must for Jet-Setting Pups

Airline travel comes with its own set of health requirements. Be sure to:

  • Check Airline Policies: Different airlines have varying rules regarding pet travel. Familiarize yourself with their policies, including pet carrier specifications and any breed-specific regulations.
  • Vaccination Certificates: Most airlines, especially for international flights, require up-to-date vaccination certificates. Confirm that your dog’s vaccinations, particularly rabies, are current, and carry the certificates in your carry-on bag.
  • Health Certificates: For international travel, secure a health certificate from your veterinarian. This document verifies your dog’s overall health and ensures compliance with the destination country’s regulations.

Smooth Sailing with a Well-Prepared Pooch

Ensuring your dog’s health is tip-top doesn’t stop at vaccinations. Follow these additional tips for seamless traveling with dogs:

  • Pre-Trip Vet Checkup: Schedule a visit to the vet before your adventure. Confirm that your dog is fit for travel, address any health concerns, and discuss potential stress-relief strategies.
  • Potty Breaks: Plan regular stops for bathroom breaks during road trips, and be aware of designated pet relief areas at airports for air travel.
  • Research High-Risk Countries: Some destinations may pose health risks to your dog. Check for any prevalent diseases or conditions and take necessary precautions.

Parting Words: Safe Travels!

cute dog listening on a retro suitcase in the room
Cute dog puppy listening on a retro suitcase. Pet travel, vacation or holiday.

As you can see, preparation and flexibility go a long way when traveling with dogs and can make any adventure a breeze. Each dog is unique, so tailor your approach to suit their personality and needs. Whether you’re road-tripping, flying, or cruising, make the journey as enjoyable for your canine companion as it is for you. 

Remember, a healthy and happy pup makes for the best travel companion. So, stay proactive, be informed, and embark on your journey with peace of mind, our healthy snacks, and a wagging tail!

Bon voyage!

marko golinger

Marko Golinger

Father, husband, veterinarian, animal lover, and nature enthusiast. Born on September 1, 1973, in Belgrade. I’ve spent my entire life with German Shepherds, which my father has been breeding since 1967 in the Kalavestra kennel registered with the FCI in 1986. Living with dogs has helped me supplement the formal knowledge I gained at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine with a wealth of experiential knowledge about the needs and behaviors of dogs, as well as corrective measures we can take to ensure our beloved pets are healthier, more stable, and obedient. I’m constantly dedicated to improving the welfare of animals and their place in society. I am a staunch opponent of humanizing dogs who, I am sure, want to be dogs and not humans or children.