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Dog Care Tips (5 of 10) - Dog Travel


Dog Travel Tips

Taking your dog on the family vacation can make for a great trip, if you plan carefully.

Are you traveling by car, plane, train, bus, or boat? How long will the trip take? Will you be staying with family or friends, or at a hotel or motel? Is your dog in good health?

These are some of the questions you will need to start answering to make your trip safe and fun.


A crate should be used for your dog's safety when traveling. Crates are available from most pet supply stores. Make sure to provide plenty of water and a favorite toy to make your dog as comfortable as possible. Check the crate for the following:

  • Large enough to allow the dog to stand, turn and lie down
  • Strong, with handles or grips, and free of interior protrusions
  • Leak-proof bottom covered with plenty of absorbent material
  • Ventilation on opposing sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow
  • "Live Animal" label, arrows upright, with owner's name, address, and phone number

By Car

When traveling by car, be sure to keep your dog comfortable. Bring along a favorite toy to make your dog feel secure.

If it's hot, open car windows to provide sufficient ventilation. Do not let your dog stick its head out of the window - this may lead to eye or ear injuries. Also, do not let your dog travel in the back of an open pickup truck - your dog could be injured in an accident.

To help your dog overcome motion sickness, take several short trips in the car before your journey. Also, feed your dog lightly before the trip, about one-third the normal amount.

By Plane

When traveling by plane, plan to visit your veterinarian before your trip. Certification of health must be provided no more than 10 days before travel. Rabies and vaccination certificates are also required. Your dog should be at least 8 weeks old, and weaned.

Airlines make it clear that it is the owner's responsibility to verify the dog's health and ability to fly. Ask your veterinarian whether it would be best for your dog to be tranquilized for the trip. Also be sure to check the temperature of the flight's starting point and destination; it may be too hot or too cold to be safe for your dog.

Remember that each airline has its own variations on regulations and services. For example, if your crate doesn't meet their requirements, the airline may not allow you to use it. They may, however, allow your dog in the passenger cabin if your crate fits under the seat in front of you.

When making your reservations, you must make reservations for your dog. There are restrictions on the number of animals permitted-they are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

By Train, Bus, and Boat

If you decide to travel by train, you may be disappointed - Amtrak does not allow pets of any kind, including dogs. (Seeing Eye dogs are permitted.) Local and commuter trains have their own policies.

Travel by bus may be equally disappointing - Greyhound and other bus companies that travel interstate are not allowed to carry live animals, including dogs. (Seeing Eye dogs are permitted.) Local bus companies have their own policies.

If you're taking a cruise, you may be in luck. For example, the QE2 luxury cruiser, which sails from New York to England/France, provides special lodging and free meals for your dog.

Check with the cruise line or ship that you are planning to use for their policies. Smaller ships will usually not be able to accommodate your dog.


If you plan to stay at a hotel or motel be sure to find out in advance if it allows dogs - many do not.

If your dog is allowed to stay at your hotel or motel, respect the privacy of other guests. Keep your dog as quiet as possible.

Do not leave your dog unattended. Many dogs bark or destroy property in a strange place.

Prevent any possibility of unwanted messes. You may want to keep your dog in its crate at night. Also, ask where you should walk your dog. The hotel or motel may not appreciate its grounds being used for this purpose.

Remember: to continue to have hotels accept guests with dogs, it is important to respect hotel property, staff and fellow guests.


International travel is much more involved than interstate travel. Each country has its own rules and regulations.

Many countries have a quarantine period - the United Kingdom quarantines dogs for six months!

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country of your destination for details.

Other Helpful Tips

How ever you travel, keep these tips in mind:  

  • Make sure your dog has a sturdy leash and collar. The collar should have identification tags, a license, and proof of rabies shots. Your home phone number should be on the tags as well.
  • You may want to consider a permanent form of ID - such as a microchip - which can increase the likelihood of reuniting you with your dog if he gets lost far from home.
  • Have recent pictures of your dog with you. If you are accidentally separated, these pictures will help local authorities find your dog.
  • Take the phone number of your veterinarian and any special medication your dog needs. Some dogs can't adjust to abrupt changes in diet, so pack your dog's regular food, bowls, and a cooler of water.
  • If you think you might need to board your dog at some point during your travels, be sure to bring your dog's complete shot records.


  • The "Pets Allowed" Directory, by Modern Systems
  • Pets R Permitted, Hotel, Motel & Kennel Directory: The Travel Resource for Pet Owners Who Travel, by The Annenberg Communications Institute
  • The Portable Pet, How to Travel Anywhere With Your Dog or Cat, by Barbara Nicholas, The Harvard Common Press
  • Take Your Pet USA, by Artco Publishing
  • Vacationing With Your Pet, by Eileen Barish, Pet-Friendly Publications