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How to Plan a Safe Trip with Your Dog this Summer

Are you planning on bringing your dog with you on your travels this summer? If so, you will need to make preparations ahead of time. Careful planning for your pet’s safety and care will ensure you both have a fun-filled trip each time you and your best friend head out!

The Most Important Preparations for a Safe Trip

Whether you are planning to travel by road or by air, make sure you have taken care of these essentials: 

  1. Visit the Veterinarian – ’Tis the summer season and time to schedule a checkup with the veterinarian if your dog hasn’t had one in a while. You will be able to make sure that all vaccinations are up to date, and find out if any booster shots are needed because of your travel destinations. Naturally you should make sure you have the latest and best tick and flea protection in place as well.
  1. Have the Appropriate Crate, Carrier, or Leash – If you are travelling by plane, you need a crate for your dog. If you are travelling by car, have some kind of restraint so that your pet isn’t loose in the car.
  • Plane – If you insist on traveling with your dog by plane, you must make sure the country you want to travel to will accept your dog. Not all breeds are legal in certain locations! You should also make sure your dog’s crate is approved by the airline with which you will be traveling. The crate itself must be big enough for your dog to stand, sit, and turn around in, and it must be lined with bedding, such as shredded paper, to absorb moisture. Check with your airline to make sure you have the correct crate design as well as all the travel papers, health certificates, and vaccines needed if necessary.
  • Car or Other Vehicle – It is not illegal, but it is recommended that your dog not be allowed to roam at will inside a vehicle because it can be very dangerous for both of you. In any accident, an unsecured dog can be injured, and even a small dog becomes a life-threatening projectile for humans. Dogs should also not be allowed to ride with their heads out of windows, and because they may decide to hop out of a window, even if the car is speeding down a highway.

A dog crate or carrier or short leash should be purchased well before your trip and a few test drives taken. That way, your dog is not horrified by the restraint, especially if he or she is used to riding around unrestrained.

  1. Dogs Need ID – Proper identification is essential for traveling pets. Make sure your dog has an ID collar. However, collars can become undone and lost, so a good backup plan is to have an ID microchip inserted under their ear flap. All animal hospitals and shelters will check their files for ID chips in the event a lost or injured animal is brought to them. Bring along a photo of your dog as well.
  1. Plan for Dog-Friendly Routes and Accommodations
  • Plane – If you are traveling by plane, direct routes are best and decrease the chances of you and your pet traveling on different planes to different destinations!
  • Car – Keep your pet in mind when planning your route so that the trip is not too long, there is an opportunity for little breaks, and your dog will be welcome when you stop for the night and when you reach your destination. There are websites devoted to finding dog-friendly hotels, motels, and beaches.
  1. Pack for Your Pet

Make sure you have your dog’s leash and collar, enough food and water, dishes, poop bags, toys—including some for the trip—a towel, a bed or blankets, medical records, a cleaner for accidents, and any medication your dog requires.

  • Treat Bag – Make up a little bag of dog treats to take on your trip.
  • Dog Medical Kit – Smartphone owners can find a free app for phones with medical advice, and you can buy a first aid kit for pets or make your own. At the very least, program the numbers of animal hospitals and an animal poison control center into your phone, or take a list of important numbers.

Traveling Tips for a Safe Journey

Whether you’re both taking a trip by car or plane, you need to keep your dog as safe as possible by planning ahead.

In the Car: 

  1. Don’t leave your dog alone in the car. Heat stroke is a common preventable danger in the summer and most likely to occur if you leave your dog alone in the car and are delayed on your return. It can also happen if you are with your dog in the car and exposed to sunlight for a long time. Be sure and check on his or her comfort now and then. 
  1. Use the leash when leaving the car. The taste of freedom after traveling in the car can cause even a well-behaved dog to run, perhaps across a busy road or street. Attach your dog’s leash before opening any doors. 
  1. Take sensible breaks. Stop for 15 or 20 minutes every three or four hours to enable your dog to have a little exercise and a pee break when needed. 
  1. Place crates, carriers, or leashed dogs in the back seat. You may like to have your best friend up front beside you, but it is a distraction for you and is not as safe for your dog. 
  1. Use an Organizing Bag in the Car – Keep all your dog’s supplies in a carrier bag so that you can quickly find everything you need for your pet without delay.

In the Plane: 

  1. Food. Tape a little bag outside your dog’s crate with a bit of dried food or treats so he or she can be fed if there is a delay in the trip.
  1. Don’t lock the door. Close the crate door tightly, but don’t lock it in case airport personnel need to take your dog out in an emergency.
  1. Delays. If there are serious delays, request firmly that someone check on your dog’s safety and comfort.

Summer is a great time to travel with your dog! With a little preparation, you can ensure a fun-filled and safe trip for you and your four-legged best friend.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.