How To Travel With A Dog: By Car, Plane, &  More

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Traveling with a dog is easier with pet-friendly hotels and better transportation options. Whether you travel by car, plane, train, bus, or boat, you can ensure the health and happiness of your pet whether you're going on a work trip or taking a vacation together. 

No one wants to leave their dog at home, and you don't have to, as long as you're willing to find the best travel solutions for your pet. Of course, not all dogs can or should fly, but there are other ways to take your pet with you on vacation. Wondering, "How can I travel with my dog?" You've come to the right place. This article will discuss different ways you can travel with a dog. 

Traveling With Your Dog: Tips & Tricks

If you want to learn how to travel with a dog, there are a few things to remember. First, always consider your dog's temperament. Some dogs should not use public transportation like trains, buses, or planes, especially those with reactivity, aggression, or anxiety. Therefore, you should understand your dog's body language to ensure you're not putting them in a stressful situation by traveling with them. In addition to determining whether your dog should travel, you'll need to ensure a few things before you hit the road. 

Speak With Your Veterinarian

Before booking your flight or packing, you should determine whether your dog is healthy enough to travel. Some dogs shouldn't travel, including those with underlying health conditions and senior dogs. Besides considering your dog's overall health, you'll need to ensure they're up to date on their vaccines and that their microchip is working properly. 

Whether traveling by plane or taking a road trip, you should have your dog's vaccination documentation with you at all times. Airlines require you to provide proof of vaccinations, and pet-friendly hotels may do the same to ensure the safety of other pet passengers and guests. 

Make Sure You Pack Medical Records & Documents

Again, you should always carry your dog's proof of vaccinations with you when traveling, just in case. You should also have their medical records as proof they're healthy, especially if you plan on traveling internationally. 

Tips for traveling with a dog

Pack Treats, Food, & Medications

We recommend listing all the essential items your dog will need while traveling. Remember, traveling with a dog is a lot like traveling with a toddler; they need their snacks, food, and medications to keep them healthy no matter where they go. You should keep your dog's food and treats if you're flying in case your luggage is lost. However, you should also know where all the pet stores at your destination are located to ensure you know where to go if you need to purchase more food and treats. 

Having treats when traveling with dogs is essential because it can help ease stress or anxiety, especially in the car or plane. If your dog has a favorite treat, always bring them with you as a high-value reward for good behavior. 

Pack Toys & Other Comfort Items

Dogs are creatures of habit, and new places, environments, and people can be scary to them. Therefore, you should bring them the comfort of home in the form of their favorite toys, blankets, and bedding. Items that smell like home can help keep your dog calm. Meanwhile, their favorite toys will give them something to play with while traveling. 

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Always carry water and a collapsible bowl with you wherever you go, no matter your mode of transportation. You can stop the car for potty and hydration breaks if you're driving. However, if you're flying with your dog and they're flying as cargo, you should have water ready and waiting for them when you're reunited since the cargo hold can get hot and dehydrating. 

Plan Out Bathroom Breaks And Walks

Whether driving, flying, or taking a bus or train, you must plan your dog's potty breaks accordingly. If you're driving, you can find rest stops or dog parks along the way. Meanwhile, if you're flying or taking a bus or train, you can call the airport or station to find pet-friendly areas where your dog can relieve themself and get some fresh air. 

Make Sure Your Accommodations Are Pet-Friendly

Always ensure your accommodations are pet friendly before you book. Not confirming whether a rental or hotel allows dogs could mean you're without a place to stay until you find another one. Even if a rental or hotel allows pets, you should confirm whether there are any restrictions. For example, some rentals may not allow certain dog breeds, while others accept all dogs. 

Keep Your Dog On Their Leash

Your dog should be on their leash or in a carrier at all times, depending on the policy of the train company, bus station, or airline. Even while driving, you should keep your dog on a leash in public areas because they may roam or get scared and run. 

Tips for traveling with your dog by car

Tips For Traveling With Your Dog By Car

Traveling with dogs by car is the easiest way to take a vacation together because you can control everything from when you stop to where your dog will be. Airlines have weight restrictions, and if your dog is over 25 pounds, they'll likely have to travel in the cargo hold, where it's dangerous and can be traumatizing for them. When you drive, you can ensure your pet's safety and happiness. Here are a few tips for how to travel with a dog by car: 

Consider Taking Practice Trips First

Practice trips will allow you to get your dog used to the car. These short trips can help calm anxious dogs by helping them understand what it feels like to be in a car for a prolonged period. In addition to practice trips, you should consider crate training and anxiety dog training before going on your trip to ensure your dog can remain comfortable and calm while in the car for long stretches. 

Keep Your Dog Safe While Driving

Many dogs like to climb on their pet parents while they're driving, which can be dangerous for everyone, including other drivers on the road. You can keep your pet safe and secure using a dog seat belt or keeping them in their crate while in the car. 

Stop For Bathroom & Exercise Breaks

Plan exercise and potty breaks every few hours, depending on your dog's needs. Dogs don't like being cooped up, so ensuring they get enough exercise while on the road can prevent anxious and destructive behavior. 

Never Leave Your Pup Alone In The Car

It's not safe for your dog to spend any amount of time in the car alone, especially if it's hot or cold outside. In addition, you shouldn't leave your dog anywhere with strangers because they can get stolen. If you have to leave the car, have a family member watch them for you.1 Of course, you shouldn't leave your dog alone anywhere while traveling, even at your destination, because you never know if there are any poisonous plants, other pets, or hidden dangers. 

Traveling With Your Dog By Plane

Many dogs can travel by plane. However, if your dog is over the weight limit of most airlines (around 25 pounds), they'll have to travel in the cargo hold, which can be dangerous for them because of temperature fluctuations, air pressure, and loose luggage. In addition, your dog will have to be crated for the duration of the flight and while in the airport. However, you should check your airline's pet policy to ensure your crate meets its requirements.1

Can I bring my dog on a plane?

Yes, you can bring your dog on a plane, but every airline is different. Some airlines don't allow dogs, but most have weight restrictions that prevent medium to large dogs from traveling in the cabin with you.1 Some dogs should not travel on planes because the experience can be stressful and traumatizing, especially if your dog must travel as cargo. Since you can't guarantee your dog's safety since you won't be with them, you should weigh the pros and cons of flying with them. 

Service Animals & Necessary Paperwork

Airlines allow service animals to fly with you in the cabin. However, you may be required to provide proof of vaccination status or documentation proving your pet is a service animal.

Size Restrictions & Fees

Again, most airlines have a maximum weight limit for dogs. Before you book your flight, you should learn about the airline's pet requirements and restrictions and weigh your dog to ensure they can fly in the cabin with you. If your dog can't fly in the cabin, they'll fly as cargo with luggage. 

In-cabin flight fees can range from $50-500 per pet

Airport Safety For Your Dog

Traveling with a dog by plane can be stressful for both of you. Therefore, you should consider whether there's an alternative mode of transportation, such as driving or taking a pet-friendly bus or train. With so many people in the airports, even if your dog gets to fly with you in the cabin, the experience can be stressful for them. 

In addition, vets and other experts advise against shipping your dog as cargo because the cargo hold is loud and dangerous to them. While airlines are required to publicize pet incident reports, you can't guarantee the safety of your pet when you can't keep an eye on them. 

Traveling With Your Dog By Train, Bus, or Boat

If traveling by plane or car isn't an option, consider traveling with your dog by train, bus, or boat, depending on your final destination. Traveling by train and bus can be less stressful for your dog, and you can easily plan potty breaks along the route. Still, every company has its own pet policies, so you should review them and call to ask any questions you have to ensure your dog's safety while traveling. 

Amtrak Trains & Dogs

Amtrak Trains allow dogs, but there are restrictions. For example, dogs must be in pet carriers throughout the duration of the trip. In addition, dogs cannot be disruptive during travel, so if your dog tends to bark at strangers, traveling by train likely isn't a good option for them. In addition, the weight restriction for pets and their carriers is 20 pounds, so only small dogs are allowed.2 

Greyhound Buses & Trains

Greyhound does not allow pets on its buses. Instead, only service dogs are allowed. 

Traveling With Your Dog By Boat

Some cruise lines allow dogs, but every pet policy is different.3 For example, some boats allow pets in private cabins, where they can roam free. Meanwhile, most pet policies state that pets must remain in their kennels during the trip.3

Young bearded man with bulldog waiting for train

Final Notes

Traveling with your dog may seem difficult, but it's not impossible. By planning and contacting airlines, bus, and train companies, you can find the right mode of transportation for you and your dog. Of course, whenever possible, you should always drive with your dog because it allows you more control over the environment and can reduce your dog's stress. 

No matter where you're going or how you travel with your dog, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, dogs can easily get anxious and stressed in new, loud environments. Many dogs experience stress while riding in the car. Therefore, you should treat your dog's anxiety before you plan your vacation. In addition, you should ensure you have access to a vet no matter where you are. Dutch offers telemedicine for your pet to help treat travel anxiety and ensure your dog can get the care they need while you're on vacation. Try Dutch today. 

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References

  1. “The Complete Guide to Traveling with Your Dog.” American Kennel Club, 1 July 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/complete-guide-to-traveling-with-your-dog/.

  2. “Pets on Amtrak Trains.” Pets on Amtrak, https://www.amtrak.com/pets.

  3. “Travel Safely with Your Pet by Car, Airplane, Ship or Train.” The Humane Society of the United States, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/travel-safely-your-pet-car-airplane-ship-or-train.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $15/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.