Traveling with Your Puppy by Plane or Car - dummies

Traveling with Your Puppy by Plane or Car

By Sarah Hodgson

Everybody likes a vacation. The most depressing part, however, is parting from your beloved puppy. Why not take your puppy along when you travel? Having your pet with you can be great fun, but you’ll also come across some risks.

Packing a bag for your puppy’s needs

A lot of planning goes into a trip, and overlooking your puppy’s needs can be easy. Familiar objects are as soothing to your puppy as a fuzzy, warm security blanket is to a child. Here’s a checklist of your puppy’s needs:

  • A familiar mat or other bedding

  • Regular food that’s separated for each feeding, plus an extra meal or two just in case

  • A selection of familiar bones and toys

  • Food dishes

  • Water, if you’re visiting an environment where bottled water is recommended for human consumption

  • Housetraining bell, if your puppy uses one

Taking your puppy on a plane

Sometimes air travel is unavoidable, so follow these tips to make flying easier on everyone when your puppy accompanies you:

  • Do your best to plan direct flights in the evening or early morning when ground temperatures are cooler (heat-induced suffocation is the biggest risk in airline travel). If you can’t fly direct, book a flight with a layover that’s long enough for you to take your puppy out for a stretch, drink, potty break, and hug.

  • Airlines require health certificates and proof of vaccination, so you need to get them from your veterinarian and forward a copy to the airline immediately. Carry one with you the day of the flight, too, in case any questions arise about your dog’s clearance to travel.

  • On the top of the traveling crate, in 1/2-inch letters, write the flight’s destination, including your name and the name, address, and phone number of the person or place you’re visiting.

  • Don’t feed your puppy within six hours of the trip.

  • Prep the crate for takeoff with light bedding and paper (taped down) in one end to absorb mistakes. Affix kennel bowls inside the crate. Freeze water in one so your puppy can have a drink while in flight.

    If your puppy is a champion chewer, you may need to nix the bedding. If you suspect that your puppy will be distressed, ask your veterinarian for a sedative.

Traveling by car with your puppy

Most puppies and dogs love road trips. Cars can be a dangerous place for dogs, however, so you must take certain precautions:

  • Don’t leave your puppy in the car on a warm day. Even with the windows down, your car will bake like an oven.

  • Keep an extra set of keys on hand. If you must leave your puppy, keep the engine running with the air conditioning on full-blast and lock the doors. Keep the second set of keys with you to get back into the car.

  • Got a pick-up truck? Let your puppy ride in the cab. On a leash or off, the bed of a truck is no place for a dog.

  • Keep the windows cracked but not wide open. Some people think that letting a dog hang her head out the window is cool, but it’s actually very dangerous. Dogs can get hurled from the car in an accident or have debris fly into their eyes, causing permanent damage.

  • Secure your puppy with a seat belt. Give your puppy her own area in the backseat. Secure a doggie-style attachment to the seat belt and decorate her area with a mat and toys to keep her comfortable and occupied during the drive.

Are you planning a long journey? Following are some guidelines to ensure that both you and your puppy get through the trip with minimal hassle:

  • Keep your pup’s diet and feeding times consistent. A change can upset her system, and that’s one discomfort that you can easily avoid.

  • Avoid traveling in extreme heat unless you have a good air-conditioning system. If you’re in extreme heat, plan to travel at night or early in the morning.

  • Keep your puppy on a leash at every pit stop. When traveling, a puppy’s homing device shuts down. If she wanders off or gets momentarily distracted, she may have trouble finding her way back to you.