What are the best dog travel tips?

As more and more people become vaccinated and as students complete their schooling for the year, travel is on the minds of many who have hunkered down throughout the pandemic and are ready escape the confines of the home and hit the road. Your dog(s), being part of the family and definitely more accustomed to being in near constant contact with your human family over the past 14-plus months, are eager to join you in your travels. We’ve got tips for you to make vacationing with a pet more enjoyable, even during non-COVID times.

Air Travel
Travel can be stressful for dogs, especially if they’re on a flight and have to be crated in the cargo hold. Most airlines allow small dogs in the cabin as long as their carrier fits under the seat in front of you, but that can be stressful, too. Not all dogs are good candidates for the airport and airline experience, so if there is the slightest chance your dog might be traumatized, reconsider your vacation plans. But if you’re certain your dog is a prime candidate for this type of travel, consider the following for a stress-free trip:

  • Buy a cozy carrier, one that has plenty of padding and will be comfortable for your dog to lounge and sleep in. You can also add your own padding or blankets if the one you buy doesn’t include them.
  • Get your dog accustomed to the carrier. Practice at home weeks before the flight to ensure they’re completely at ease in it.
  • Exercise your dog(s) prior to the flight. This will tire them out and make them more prone to sleep during the flight.
  • Limit food and water in the hours leading up to the flight and make sure they have plenty of chances to take potty breaks before entering the airport.
  • Does your dog respond well to thunder shirts, also known as anxiety wraps? About 80 percent of dogs do, so if yours is one of them, bundle them up before they enter the plane.

With ample pre-planning and preparation, your flight with your dog should go off without a hitch.

Car Travel
Most dogs love riding in cars. They experience new sights and smells, and best yet – they get to be with their human companions. Be sure to give them plenty of exercise just prior to embarking on the trip, as this will help them settle down and avoid the urge to be a rambunctious (annoying) traveler. Consider these tips as well:

  • Safety belting
    In the unfortunate event of a car crash, ensure your dog’s safety by installing a safety belt that will keep him/her from becoming a projectile. This will also prevent injury in a hard brake situation, and it will keep a feisty pup from jumping out of an open window.
  • Motion sickness
    Just like humans, dogs can experience motion sickness in cars, which is probably one of the main issues dog owners face when traveling with their pet. To make your travel more comfortable for you and your pup, make sure they are able to see out the window, perhaps even a front-facing view. This helps reduce a motion sickness trigger. Also, limit food consumption prior to a ride, as this will help to reduce the chance of an upchuck.
  • Car ramps
    For dogs that have mobility issues, getting them into the car might be a hassle, especially if they are heavy. There are several options for a situation like this, ranging from ramps to steps that give your pup an easy way in and out of a vehicle.
  • Plan for Bathroom Breaks
    Study the route to your destination and plan on hitting the rest stops along the way so you don’t have to make any emergency roadside stops. Rest stops are a great place to give your pup a chance to stretch their legs and blow off pent up energy.

Also, to keep your pup entertained, take chew treats and toys, which will help them vent built-up tension or stave off boredom while on the road.

Pack Smart

Food, water, feeding/drinking bowls, medicine, toys and collars/leashes/harnesses should all be thought about prior to your trip, and perhaps even packed in a bag specifically for all dog-related items. Also consider packing pet grooming wipes and a pad or bed resting and sleeping.

To save space, consider collapsible water and food bowls. The best ones are BPA-free and made with a lead-free silicone that are considered food-grade and safe to put in the dishwasher. If you’re worried about food bowls becoming tainted, stainless steel is the safest material because it is so easy to thoroughly clean and it is also dishwasher safe.

Keeping your dog hydrated on the trip, especially if you’re doing plenty of outdoor activities, will be much easier with water bottles made specifically for dogs. These bottles include a reservoir at the end where water pools and be easily accessed by the dog. 


No doubt you’ve put plenty of thought into what you want to do with your family while on your trip, but don’t forget to plan some fun for Fido. Trails, hiking, the beach, mountains and large parks where water is plentiful are all great destinations for the entire group.

Expedia recently identified some of the more dog-friendly cities that would make perfect vacation destinations. For example, if you are determined to be oceanside, go to San Diego and enjoy “Dog Beach” where off-leash areas are plentiful. Also, San Diego has more than 500 dog-friendly restaurants.

Austin, Tex., is another popular destination due to its 500-plus dog-friendly restaurants. There’s also Austin Doga, which is yoga class you can take with your dog. There’s even a water park called “Barkin’ Springs” that caters to dogs on the hot summer days.

If you’re more inclined to travel eastward, consider Alexandria, Va., where aside from 20 fenced and unfenced dog parks, you can walk down the historic streets of the colonial downtown area and see bowls of water out for dogs, as well as treats. Fortunately, if Mount Vernon is on your list of things to do, it is dog friendly. For more cities on Expedia’s list, check out the blog here.

One valuable resource you should consider is a website called BringFido. This site allows you to enter a destination, dates, the number of people and pets to generate a list of pet-friendly places. The site will also list pet fees associated with your stay.

  • Make sure you’re familiar with the pet rules established by your motel, hotel or Airbnb, VRBO, Home Exchange or other rentals. 
  • Make sure your dog is vaccinated and has the proper paperwork should you be required to give proof. For example, if you’re crossing the border into Canada, you will be required to show a valid rabies vaccination certificate.
  • Always leash your dog unless you’re in a designated leash-free area. This is especially important in high traffic areas such as gas station.
  • Bring extra bedding. Many lodging places have rules about pets on furniture, so be sure to cover couches or beds where your dog might lounge.
  • Rather than leaving your pet to its own devices at your place of lodging while you’re out and about, plan pet-friendly activities and day trips to places you’ll enjoy that also allow dogs.

As you plan your trip, ask your veterinarian about CBD supplements. Getting your pet started on a CBD regimen prior to a trip can help them adjust to the supplement and begin to see the benefits that many pet owners have attested to, including easing stress and a variety of other perks. At PetSoothe, we’re excited to get back on the road and see the sights we missed so much over the pandemic. We’re also focused on making sure your pets are as comfortable as possible, so consider our CBD dog treats today.

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