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How To Travel With Your Dog: 6 Great Tips (Vet Answer)

Dr. Lauren Demos (Vet)

By Dr. Lauren Demos (Vet)

Pug sitting in a cage in the trunk of a car

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Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

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Dog owners will need to travel with their dog at some point, whether it’s a trip to the veterinarian, moving houses, or taking their dog with them on vacation. Traveling might be stressful for some dogs, whereas others might enjoy long car rides with their owners. Many dogs may feel unsure during travels as they do not know where they are going or why they are in a moving car. It is important to keep your dog stress-free during travels and to ensure they are comfortable until you reach the destination.

Here are some tips to make the trip more enjoyable for your dog.

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The 6 Great Tips for Traveling With Your Dog

1. Identification

Taking your dog out of the security of the home while you travel makes it important to keep a collar on your dog with an identification tag. Another way to secure your dog’s identification is to have them microchipped by a veterinarian. If you are moving across the country, you may also need to bring any important papers in a file, such as whether your dog has gotten all their necessary vaccinations or if they are qualified as a service dog.

Make sure any collar ID tags have names and numbers so that if your dog happens to get lost during the travels in an unfamiliar area, anyone who finds your dog can contact you.

Big dog with dog id and tags
Photo Credit: Minka2507, Pixabay

2. Medication

If your dog is on any prescription medication for health issues such as seizures, arthritis, or anxiety, then it is important to bring the medications with you. If you are on a long trip and are planning to take your dog on a long vacation, then they will still need to take their medication like normal if prescribed by a veterinarian.

You should also pack a first-aid kit for long trips in case something was to happen to your dog. If your dog becomes very anxious and stressed during traveling, then a veterinarian will help you find a medication that can keep your dog calm for the duration of the trip. Some dogs may also need nausea medication if they are prone to car sickness to stop them from vomiting.

3. Plan a Vet Visit Before

If your dog is going to be traveling for a long time to a new destination, then it is important that you set up a vet visit for your dog a few days prior. The vet will conduct a health check to see if your dog is in good health to be traveling and staying away from a home for a while. This is also a good time to ask your dog’s veterinarian for any help with medication to keep your dog calm during traveling if they are anxious. If your dog gets car sick from being in a moving vehicle, then your dog’s veterinarian will help find the right medication to help combat their nausea during the trip.

Beagle dog at the veterinarian
Photo Credit: Beach Creatives, Shutterstock

4. Keep Your Dog Secure

It is unsafe to have a dog moving around in the backseat of a car during traveling because if you were to break suddenly your dog could get injured. A dog moving around in the car can also be a distraction to the driver. It is best to keep your dog secured in the back or front seat and a crate if possible. The area where your dog will remain for most of the trip should have a comfy blanket or doggy bed so that your dog can lie down or sit up when they need to. You may need to use a seatbelt to secure the crate so that it does not move around.

5. Plan Bathroom Breaks

Your dog will need to take short breaks during long travels, even if it is only for 5 minutes. You will need to secure your dog on a leash in a safe environment and let your dog stretch their legs or use the bathroom for a few minutes to help prevent them from becoming restless. Bathroom breaks should be taken every one to two hours to help prevent your dog from urinating or defecating in the car and creating a mess that could delay the trip.

Photo Credit: J.A. Dunbar, Shutterstock

6. Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Your dog may not have access to constant water during travels, so it is important to offer them water when the car has stopped. You can bring a portable pet drinking bottle that is filled with fresh water to offer to your dog every half an hour. Your dog may make a mess when drinking the water, so bring a small towel to dry off any spilled water.

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How Can I Keep My Dog Safe While Traveling?

Keeping your dog safe is important if you want to successfully travel with your dog. Do not leave your dog unattended in a car even if it is for a few minutes if you want to take a short break from traveling to visit a store.

If you are traveling with your dog, they should not be unsupervised and kept on a leash at all times. Make sure that your dog is secured in the car and that they are not moving around or sticking their head out the window.

These are accidents waiting to happen and can be distracting to the driver, especially if you have to worry about your dog sticking their head out of the window.


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Final Thoughts

By ensuring your dog is comfortable during the travels and that they are kept hydrated and secure, your dog should begin to get used to traveling and associate it with something rewarding depending on where they are going. After traveling with your dog and reaching your destination, you can give your dog a treat to reward them for traveling with you and it will also help perk your dog up if the travels were stressful for them.

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Featured Image Credit: Absolutimages, Shutterstock

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