Before You Go
1. Visit the Vet
- Schedule a comprehensive check-up with your veterinarian several weeks before your trip. Confirm your dog is healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations. If you are traveling internationally, some countries require a health certificate issued by a vet.
2. Research Regulations and Requirements
- Research the specific requirements of your airline and destination. Requirements can include vaccinations, quarantine periods, and specific travel documents. Some countries and states have strict regulations, including mandatory quarantines for arriving pets.
3. Pack Smart
- Create a checklist of your dog’s essentials. This should include food, water, leash, waste bags, grooming supplies, medications, and a familiar blanket or toy to comfort them. Also, pack a pet first-aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic, and your vet’s contact information.
On The Road
4. Secure Your Dog
- Use a well-ventilated, crash-tested crate or a pet seatbelt harness. This will prevent your dog from getting thrown around inside the vehicle during sudden stops or an accident and will keep them from distracting the driver.
5. Take Regular Breaks
- When driving long distances, stop every 2-3 hours for bathroom breaks and to let your dog stretch and exercise. This will help them burn off energy and make them more comfortable during the trip.
6. Never Leave Your Dog Unattended in a Vehicle
- Even with the windows cracked, temperatures inside a car can skyrocket, leading to fatal conditions like heatstroke.
Flying with Your Dog
7. Consult Your Airline
- Call the airline before booking your ticket. Confirm their pet policies, including the maximum size and weight of pets they allow. Some airlines also have breed restrictions.
8. Choose the Cabin When Possible
- It is generally safer and less stressful for dogs to travel in the cabin with you rather than in the cargo hold, which can have more extreme temperatures and loud noises.
9. Prepare an Airline-Approved Crate
- If your dog must travel in the cargo hold, buy a sturdy, IATA-approved crate. Ensure it’s well-ventilated, secure, and labeled with “LIVE ANIMAL”, your name, contact information, and final destination.
10. Avoid Tranquilizers
- Sedating your pet for a flight can increase the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular problems at high altitudes. Consult your vet for advice on natural calming products if necessary.
11. Familiarize Your Dog with the Crate
- Weeks before the flight, let your dog spend time in the crate. Start with short periods and gradually increase the time, rewarding your dog for calm behavior.
12. Feed and Exercise Before the Flight
- Feed your dog 4-6 hours before the flight to prevent them from getting sick during the trip. Ensure they’ve had a good walk, so they are more likely to sleep.
13. Stay Calm and Positive
- Your energy affects your dog. Keeping a calm and soothing demeanor will help your dog remain relaxed.
14. Check on Your Dog
- If allowed by the flight crew, and especially if your dog is in the cargo hold, request periodic updates on your pet’s status during the flight.
15. Give Them Time to Acclimate
- After reaching your destination, give your dog a quiet space where they can adjust to their new surroundings. This might mean some downtime in a hotel room before exploring.
16. Look for Signs of Stress or Illness
- After travel, watch for unusual behaviors like excessive panting, drooling, or lethargy. If you notice any of these signs, consult a local vet immediately.
- Microchip and ID Tag:
- Ensure your dog has a microchip, and that the contact information associated with the chip is up-to-date. They should also wear a collar with an ID tag that has your current contact information.
- Research Local Vets:
- Before you travel, make a list of veterinary clinics near your destination. Note their hours and emergency contact information, so you are prepared in case of an emergency.
By thoroughly preparing for your journey and paying careful attention to your dog’s needs throughout, you can ensure a safe and joyful adventure for both you and your furry friend!