Jordan Smith

Many pet parents opt for pet boarding facilities or even getting a dog-sitter if they plan to go out of town. But sometimes, taking your little one along is the best decision.

Read these 14 tips that’ll turn you and your doggie into pro travelers.

1.Remember that dogs get travel anxiety, thus experiment with short trips beforehand

Do you get motion sickness in a car, or feel nervous when a plane takes off? Dogs can experience all of these feelings and even more since they usually travel less than humans. Try to diffuse this anxiety as much as possible by planning ahead and packing familiar items, like his favourite toy, some treats, his blanket, and regular food, etc.  This might not be possible if you’re planning to fly. But if you’re planning a road trip, take your pet on some short test trips before the big day. This will allow you to assess his comfort level with traveling and answer some important questions. Does he get nauseous in the car? Does he bark the whole time, or settle down right away? Once you know the answers, you can plan better for the main trip.

2.Start the prep a day prior
Exercising your pet means he’ll be tired, which means he’ll sleep for a large part of the journey. Make sure your pet gets extra exercise the day before travelling. Play fetch, run around, take him for an extra walk; just to ensure that he has burnt that extra energy before hitting the road. Just remember, don’t overstrain him in any way.

3. Have your pet’s ID ready
Your dog should have his identification ready to go. This means a secure collar with tags that have your current cell phone number and other contact information on it. If possible, you should also have your dog microchipped so he’ll always have his ID on him, even if he manages to wiggle out of his collar.

4.Be prepared for emergencies
Whether you’re at home or on vacation, you don’t want your beloved pet to fall ill but you should be prepared, just in case. Do some research about the destination to know vets in the vicinity. Keep their contact details handy. You can also carry other helpful documents such as a current photo of your dog and any relevant prescriptions.

5. Get a clean bill of health from your regular vet
Regardless of where you’re traveling, your pet should be updated his vaccinations. Pay a visit to your vet before the vacation to get the necessary paperwork.

6. Over pack for your pet
Veteran travelers take pride in traveling light. But you can’t take the same strategy when travelling with pets. You should always pack extra items, including food, water, toys, blankets, paper towels, cleaning supplies, deodorizing spray and poop bags. Trust us, you don’t want to run out of these while on a road trip. Just like you pack your bag, make sure to pack your pet’s bag as well.

7. Keep food, water and medication consistent
If you can, bring enough food, water, dog treats, and medication to last the entire trip. This will help provide a sense of consistency for your pet and help ease feelings of anxiety.  If your pet tends to have an upset stomach, keeping his food the same can help prevent it. There might not be a pet supplies store at the destination you’re traveling to, so taking his supplies is a good idea.

8. Be strategic about his meals
Some dogs are fine eating a small meal before traveling, while others might get motion sickness and vomit. You would know what is best for your pet. It is a good idea to keep treats and fruits handy, so you can easily feed him during the journey.  Also make sure your pet is well hydrated. Give him water in his bowl all through the day.

9. Live the crate life while traveling
Whether traveling by car or plane, your pet should either be in a crate or left in a carrier. Most airlines require that pets be contained in some way depending on their size. Even if you’re driving you shouldn’t allow him to roam free. His antics can distract the driver and he might get thrown around or suffer injuries when the car brakes suddenly.
Crates can also make traveling less stressful, since your pet can get used to the crate before you hit the road.

10. Frequent stops are a must
You might be able to make a 10 hour drive without stopping, but your pet definitely can’t. Stop to stretch your legs every few hours and let your pet relieve herself. Plus, letting him out every couple of hours will keep the anxiety at bay. Once you arrive at the destination, let your pet explore the area. Take him for a walk and reward him for being a good travel companion. However, this rule does not apply to flying. Nonstop flights work best when travelling with pets.

11. Think twice before flying with your dog
To you, your pet is a beloved member of the family but to the airlines he might be a just piece of cargo. Large dogs are usually secured in crates in the hold, while small dogs may be allowed into the main cabin if kept in a carrier. The extreme temperatures and oxygen deprivation in the hold on certain flights can sometimes pose a health risk for your pet. Also make sure to check with the airlines their policies of flying with pets. You’d need to book your pet’s ticket as well.

12. Find dog-friendly lodging
Not every hotel or camp ground allows pets. Call and confirm their policy before making the final bookings. For indoor lodging, double-check to see if they charge extra if your pet stays in the same room as yours.

13. Don’t leave your dog alone
NEVER leave your pet alone. Whether it is a parked car, hotel room, or the open camp side, he needs to be under supervision. A golden rule when travelling with your pet is – don’t let him off the leash. You wouldn’t want to lose him in the wild.

14. Don’t sedate unless absolutely necessary
You shouldn’t force your pet to travel merely because it’s convenient for you. If your dog is really anxious while traveling, look for a pet boarding or a dog-sitter. Tranquilizers should be the last option and only be used if they absolutely cannot be avoided, such as during a one-time move. If your dog’s anxiety is milder, you can look into talk to your vet about dog treats that help lower anxiety. Traveling can be stressful for both you and your pup, but proper planning can make it a fun experience. Implement these tips and make the most of this vacation season. Travelling with pets is a great experience, try it once and there’ll be no looking back.

(Jordan Smith is a full-time stay-at-home mother of two daughters and a new dog Luna! She loves blogging, crafting, and spending time with her family. She also enjoys strolling the streets of downtown Charleston, South Carolina and all the amazing food her hometown has to offer.)