7 Tips to Travel with Your Dog Without Problem – Car and Airplane

On vacation, one of the predicaments we dog owners have is: do I leave my dog with a caregiver at home, in a daycare center or do I take him traveling with me?

No one is going to take care of our pets as we do and that is why many of us choose to travel with them. But there are certain things that we must consider to avoid any mishap before or during the trip.

So read these 7 practical tips for traveling with your pet.

1. Walk and exercise before the trip 

Some canines may suffer from stress or anxiety when traveling, and of course, it depends on how used to it they are and the transportation method you choose. That’s why it’s advisable to take your dog for a walk and exercise before the trip.

You can walk with him for 30 to 60 minutes depending on how much energy your pet has and this way he will get rid of all the tension and stress he may have. This is ideal because he will be tired during the trip and will probably take the opportunity to sleep and rest peacefully.

In addition, he should relieve himself a little before the trip so he won’t have to urinate or defecate during the trip.

2. Travel comfort (car or airplane) 

This is an important thing to keep in mind, whichever means of travel you choose, whether by road or air, your puppy should be as comfortable and safe as possible.

I’m sure you wouldn’t want to travel uncomfortably, so keep the following in mind:

Traveling by car with a dog. 

If you are going to travel by car and the trip is very long, remember to make stops so your dog can stretch, walk and relax, especially if he doesn’t like to travel by car.

He must also have water at his disposal at all times and you must control his temperature and avoid heat stroke at all costs (if the place you are traveling to is warm). In fact, you could get a cooling blanket.

And of course, during the trip, he must have a space to move around comfortably so he doesn’t get stressed, so you can adapt the trunk of the car with his blankets, cushions, or toys. Of course, the trunk should be the kind that expands to the inside of the car, folding the rear seats for more space and better ventilation.

If your trunk is closed and doesn’t stretch, don’t leave your dog in there as he could suffocate, better adapt the back seats of the car for your pet.  

Note: Normally dogs love to have the windows open and stick their heads out, this can relax them on the trip. For example, my dog Amber hates car rides (even short ones) and gets very stressed, so we just open the window, I hold her or leash her to avoid accidents and she calms down when she gets the wind in her face.

And never leave your pet inside an unventilated car, especially during the day!

Traveling by plane with a dog 

If you want to travel by plane, you must check the conditions with the airline and where in the plane your pet can travel.

It can be in the cabin with you (although only for small pets) and always in its carrier, or it can be in the cargo hold. The latter option should be considered if traveling with your dog is indispensable because there may be accidents. Even some airlines in different countries forbid the transportation of pets in the hold of the plane.

On the other hand, if your dog is a brachycephalic breed, or suffers from anxiety, stress or other similar pathologies, it’s better not to travel this way with him as he would be exposed to serious accidents during the trip.

Requirements and documentation 

This, as I said before, will vary by airline, but some requirements or documents that they may ask for (taking LATAM as a reference) are:

  • If the pet is in good health condition, you’ll need a vet’s certificate, so it’s advisable that you take your friend for a consultation before traveling.
  • Also a certificate with the name of your pet, his age, breed, and vaccination schedule up to date.
  • The carrier must be in optimal conditions and must comply with the requirements of your pet’s size.
  • If she is a female, she must not be in heat or pregnant. Neither can she be breastfeeding or have given birth in the last 48 hours.
  • They must be at least 4 months old and have been weaned at least 5 days prior to travel.
  • And you should check what additional documentation is required by the country or place of destination.

3. Microchip 

The microchip is a small device inserted with a special needle. It holds all the information about your pet, his health condition or if he has any disease, and also your data to contact you in case of emergency.

In some countries like Spain, it’s mandatory to have this device and in other countries, you will be asked for it to allow your pet to enter the territory, some of these countries are:

  • Uruguay.
  • European Union countries.
  • Australia.
  • New Zealand.

To know more about the microchip, I recommend you to read: Importance of microchip and GPS for pets.

4. Fasting 

It’s advisable not to feed your furry friend 3 or 4 hours before the trip as they could get dizzy and vomit.

So, to avoid digestive problems, feed them as soon as you arrive at your destination. Of course, fresh water should always be available.

5. Your pet’s luggage 

Your dog is used to having some things or accessories that keep him comfortable, so if you’re going to travel, get his “doggy bag ” ready.

Pack his favorite blanket, if you have space also a cushion he likes, his toys, his harness, snacks, and food cups.

The food will depend on the type of food you feed your dog since some you can take with you and others you’ll have to get them at your destination so they don’t get damaged.

For example, you’ll be able to take dry food in your luggage if it is well covered and there is no risk of leakage. However, if you are feeding BARF or wet food, it would be better to get the food to the destination since it would be damaged if not refrigerated.

6. Health condition 

Clearly, if you’re going to travel by plane, you must have a certificate showing that your canine is in good health, as I have already explained. However, even if you are traveling by car, you should previously take your pet to a consultation with your veterinarian to make sure that he can travel and that you are not compromising his health.

Also, you must be more cautious if your dog has certain morbidities or is already a senior dog, and sometimes you may choose to leave it at home instead of taking it with you. As sad as it may make you feel, it will be for his own good.

7. Lodging 

It’ll be much more comfortable for your friend if you go to a relative’s house and stay with them. But, if you need to stay in a hotel, you must take into account that not all of them accept pets or are not adapted to receive a dog.

You should look for a “pet-friendly” place and preferably one that has parks or places where you can give them their daily walks.

These were some basic tips that will save you a lot of trouble when traveling with a pet. But, surely, with time and your experience, you’ll discover others that will work better for your furry friend.