The Ultimate Guide to Travelling With Your Dog
Nowadays many people still believe that travelling with dogs is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Let me tell you, that’s a myth! Over time I discovered that with a little extra research and planning, you can bring your Fluffy Friends along on most travel adventures — and it's not as difficult as you might think.
As someone who is passionate about both travel and dogs, I wanted to share what I've learned about this emerging trend while on the road. Last year I made the biggest change in my life: I moved from Austria to Spain by car with my dog. For the trip I had to inform myself on the options I had and on how to actually be prepared for traveling with a pet. As always, I found lots of different information and opinions, so I decided to create an overview for you.
Every year approximately 37% of pet-owners travel with their pets. According to the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association, more than four million live animals are transported on planes worldwide each year. The travel industry has had to adapt to this growing demand, and now it is easier than ever to travel with your dog.
In this blog post I will guide you starting with the planning of your trip, going through the different ways of travelling, to some tips at the end to make the whole experience easier! Let’s dive right into it together.
What you should know before planning your trip
Before embarking on an extended trip, you should take your Fluffy Friend to the veterinarian for a checkup. Check that all of his vaccinations are up to date, and bring his shot records with you. Consult your veterinarian to see if your dog is in good enough mental and physical condition to travel.
The amount of necessary paperwork will vary depending on how far you’re travelling. For example, if you plan to cross borders or travel internationally, you’ll need your dog's health records, sort of like us humans and our passports. These are required to demonstrate that your dog is healthy and vaccinated. Officials request to see them, and depending on which country you deal with, they will either retain the originals or make a copy. Having your dog’s medical records will also come in handy if you need to visit a new vet while being abroad. Your vet should also be able to inform you about which vaccines your Fluffy Friend will need depending on the destination.
Of course we don’t wish for anything to happen while we’re travelling with our dogs, but it’s always important to be ready for an emergency. Find the phone number for the nearest 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital and save it in your phone, along with the office and emergency numbers for your regular veterinarian (in case the veterinarians need to speak with each other). That way, if your dog requires medical attention, you'll be prepared with the necessary information on hand, any time!
Also, it’s very important that your Fluffy Friend is properly identified besides the obligatory microchip. Make sure your dog is wearing a strong leash and collar, with identification tags with the dog's name, your name, and your home phone number. That way, if you get separated, it will be easier that he returns to you safe and sound.
As we say, every doggie is different, and that means that not every dog enjoys going on a trip. It’s a fact that travelling will always be stressful for your pet. I recommend you take the time to see what he is most comfortable with before going along with the planning.
Travelling by car
Some dogs are able to chill and sleep in the car while you’re driving. Others get really sick from the motion! Before travelling far, allow your dog to sit in the car with you and take short rides to see if he feels somewhat comfortable. If he gets sick, my advice would be to let him travel on an empty stomach. It might sound harsh, but he will get a huge reward from the meal afterwards! Make sure your car has good ventilation. If your pooch is in a crate, allow fresh air to flow into the crate. To keep your dog safe, consider purchasing a dog seat belt or a dog car seat and never, ever leave your dog alone in a closed vehicle, especially during the summer!
In most cases, you’ll be asked by the airline to provide your dog’s health certification, generally no later than 10 days before departure. Certificates of rabies and vaccination are also required. Your Fluffy Friend should be at least 8 weeks old before traveling! Airlines normally make it clear that it’s the responsibility of the owner to ensure the dog's health and ability to fly.
Remember that, here too, each airline has its own set of rules and services. For example, if your crate does not meet the airline's specifications, it may be refused. However, if your dog's crate or carrier fits under the seat in front of you, they may allow it in the passenger cabin. There’re also limits to the number of animals allowed on each flight.
When the time came and we left Austria, I could have done it by plane, but I refused to do it. My dog gets very anxious, and I couldn’t really put him in the cargo compartment, even if I wanted to. My vet told me at the time that there’re some pills that relax or even put your dog to sleep for a while for the trips. As I had the car and wanted to make an adventure out of my trip, I decided to not go by plane. In the end it’s up to your Fluffy Friend, so make sure you get to know him and what he’s capable of going through!
Taking the Train, Bus, or Boat
With this category you’ll have to look into the certain companies that you’ll be travelling with. For example, some companies allow dogs to travel only if they weight less than 20kg. Others, not at all. In my experience, it’s always very helpful to make a quick call and ask them directly. They will be able to tell you if your pooch needs to be in a crate or to wear a muzzle.
In our trip from Huelva to Tenerife by boat (36h), they offered us two options. Lenni could travel either in the crates with the other dogs, or with us in a special area they had for dogs and their owners. I decided to book one of the special rooms and was surprise by how well everything was managed! I encourage you not to give up and make your inquiries at the companies. For the wellbeing of your Fluffy Friend!Accommodation and local places
It can be very helpful finding out ahead of time which hotels or motels allow dogs at your destination or along your route. When you find your accommodation, we
recommend not leaving the dog alone as many dogs will bark or break things if left alone in a place they don’t know.
Normally, the management should be able to tell you where you can walk your dog and give you the location of some dog-friendly spaces. When outside, make sure it’s safe for your pooch to explore before you let him loose.
Traveling with animals is becoming more popular every year, and it has taken local places like bars and restaurants some time to catch up, which means that many places do not yet have dog policies in place. Once again is it very helpful to call first and ask them directly. It's a good idea to look for a "No Pets Allowed" or "Pet Friendly" sign, but whether a place has one or not, it's always nice to double-check.
As you can see, travelling with your Fluffy Friend will require more planning ahead of time, informing yourself on the different options you have and, as always, taking the time to get to know your pooch and what does him well. It might seem challenging at first, but travelling with your dog is not as difficult as it seems if you have a plan.
To finish, we leave you with some quick tips that weren’t mentioned above that you can implement in every travel, no matter if it’s by car, by boat or by plain.
- Make time for bathroom breaks
- Pack enough poop bags
- Bring along games and toys to keep your dog entertained
- Take food and water with you
- Bring his favourite blanket so he has something that smells like home
Let us know in the comments below how you managed to travel with your Fluffy Friend and what challenges you encountered. Share your stories with other readers so we can all learn from each other!
Until next time, stay Fluffy,
Your MrFluffyFriend Team
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Here some useful products in relation to the blog:
MrFluffyFriend - Lighting Collar
MrFluffyFriend - Car Travel Package
MrFluffyFriend - Car Box
MrFluffyFriend - Dog Blanket
MrFluffyFriend - Poop scooper
Words from our author
As a pet owner, I often found myself in a very frustrating situation: going to the internet and finding multiple unhelpful and redundant articles about the care and training of pets. My mission is to create a community blog where you can find all types of information, training tipps and tricks, focusing on natural and organic ways of pet-owning and training. Understanding your pet is like understanding a whole new world - and I want us to discover it together!