So whether you’re traveling by car, plane, or train this season, here are the steps you should be taking to care for your pet.
Dog Travel Essentials
- Collar and ID tags with updated contact information
- A recent photo of your dog
- Updated vaccine records
- Water and a bowl
- Portioned dry dog food
- A toy or game of some kind (the longer it keeps them occupied the better)
In the Car
When traveling with your dog
by car, always make sure you carry the essentials
above. In the event of a breakdown, you’ll need to make sure you can safely control your dog and keep her well hydrated
Get your dog some solid exercise before a long car ride. This will help them remain calm and even help them catch a nap on the road. It’s also a good idea to pack pet-safe cleaning products, bags, and towels in the event your dog has an accident in the car.
Note that some states (Hawaii, Connecticut, and Illinois, for example) prohibit driving with your pet in your lap
. And that’s for the best. The safest place for a dog
in the car is the back seat or in the cargo area.
A seat cover or cargo liner is a great option for dogs in the car
—this is the best way
to keep them comfortable. You can try a dog restraint or seatbelt
, just be sure it’s appropriately sized for your dog and is installed correctly. For dogs that try to ride shotgun, you can try a seat barrier
that will keep them safely in the backseat
On a Plane
Exercise caution when flying with your dog. For many dogs, the experience is stressful or even traumatic, and some breeds will have respiratory problems that put them at risk when flying. Before you decide to fly, make sure you understand rules and regulations for pets on planes and confirm them with your airline. If you decide to fly with your dog, first schedule a visit to the veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy enough to fly.
While many airlines will allow pets to ride in the cabin, some will require you to “check” your dog, which means they ride in the cargo hold. This area is oxygenated and pressurized but poses great risks to the health and safety of your dog. If you find that your dog will be required to ride in the cargo hold, it’s best to find a safe and clean boarding facility or leave your dog with a trusted friend while you travel.
If your dog will be riding in the cabin with you, pack the essentials mentioned above, get them good exercise before the flight, purchase a padded carrier, and bring an activity to keep them entertained.
On a Train
Amtrak allows riders to bring small dogs (under 20 pounds) on train rides under seven hours for a fee—so now your dog can ride the rails with you.
If you’ll be bringing your dog along for the ride, bring the list of essentials
above plus a padded carrier
for your pet. This will help keep them calm and comfortable on the ride. A problem-solving toy is also a great way to keep with busy
At Your Destination
Whether you’re staying with friends or family or at a rental house, you’ll need to make sure that the home has been appropriately pet-proofed.
- Make sure all food is safely out of reach and that garbage cans close and lock or are stowed away.
- Ensure medications, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies are stored in a cabinet that your dog cannot get into.
- Keep phone and electrical cords out of reach.
- Make sure all heating or air vent covers/grates are properly secured.
- All plants should be placed where your pet cannot reach them.
- Ensure holiday decorations and ornaments are out of reach of pets.
- Make sure doors close and lock and that everyone in the household understands where dogs are not allowed.
- If there is a fenced backyard, inspect the fence to be sure it hasn’t been compromised in a way that would allow your dog to escape.