What you need to know when travelling with a dogPets are cherished members of the family so when spending time away from home many of us choose to bring our dogs along to enjoy the time away. Thankfully, it’s now much easier to travel with your canine companion since many places will welcome both you and your dog. When deciding whether to bring your dog, it is important to consider if they are fit to travel, how to prepare properly, how to best accommodate your dog when making your way to your destination and what you should do once you arrive there.
So when is it safe to take your dog with you on your travels, and when it’s best to leave them in care of someone else?
When not to bring a dog with youIf your dog is unwell, injured or pregnant, it is strongly advised to leave them at home. It’s also best to consult a vet to confirm about pets travelling with an illness or injury and to find out what kind of care your dog may need if you cannot stay with them. If you know your dog suffers from motion sickness, overstimulation, or gets upset when their routines are disrupted, it might be best for them to stay home – particularly if your trip is a short one. If you’re staying away for longer, speak to your vet about the best ways to manage any changes in routine. Will the trip be enjoyable for your dog? Will they be by your side frequently in the company of your friends, or would they spend prolonged periods of time alone? Would it be a bit too hot or would it be perfect walking weather? If you do decide to leave your dog at home, ensure that they are in a comfortable and safe environment with a friend, family member or a trusted dog sitter. If this isn’t possible, book them into a reputable kennel and let the kennel’s staff know about your dog’s emotional and physical needs. If you know that your dog is in good overall health, you can start planning your trip. But you will need to do your homework. Planning ahead is essential.
Journey preparationFirstly, if you’re planning to stay away overnight, ensure that you find out which places allow dogs to stay before making any bookings. There are many websites where you can search for pet-friendly accommodation, places to eat and attractions. Make sure you your dog is microchipped. It is a legal requirement for all dogs over the age of eight weeks to be microchipped within the UK and ROI, unless they have exceptional veterinary exemption reasons. A pet microchip contains personal information to identify your dog. The microchipping process is quick and very straightforward. Read our article on microchipping to find out more. Your vet will be able to confirm that your animal is healthy, fit to travel and is up to date with all necessary vaccinations, wormers and insect/tick repellents (recommendations and requirements change frequently). If you are travelling overseas there are certain requirements you must meet in order to bring your dog into the country. For more information about the overseas regulations click through on https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview.
Remember to keep your vet’s phone number with you in case you need any advice while you’re away. It’s also a good idea to look up a veterinary surgery close to where you are staying and keep their phone number with you in case of an emergency. Make sure that you pack everything that your dog will need. Include enough dog food for the entire trip in case you might not be able to buy your specific diet while you are away – a rapid change in diet can upset your dog’s stomach. Also remember to take any regular medication, toys, lead and collar with ID tag detailing your current contact details, poo bags, bedding and food/drink bowls. Check the details of your pet insurance to ensure if your dog does unfortunately fall ill when you are away that you won't be out of pocket. Now that you’re ready and fully packed, let’s take a look at the travel process itself.
Top tips for driving with your dog
Here are our top tips to help you keep your dog comfortable and safe:
- Never leave your dog alone in a car – cars can heat up rapidly even in just a few minutes
- Provide a small meal for your dog a few hours before you leave – this will ensure they aren’t hungry and may help minimise the chances of travel sickness during the journey. Don’t feed them immediately before you set off
- Always allow your dog free access to water before they travel
- Make sure you walk your dog before the journey to give it exercise and the chance to relieve itself before travelling – this may also help to keep your pet content before your arrival
- Keep the dog inside the car, e.g. not allowed to hang out of a window, or in the bed of a pickup truck
- If it’s a long journey, make pit stops to give your dog the chance to walk and relieve itself
- Bring small meals and water to keep your dog fed and hydrated at pit stops
- For extra safety, you should use a pet carrier that is secured within the car or a dog car harness to keep your dog safely restrained during travel – your vet will be able to advise on the best options for your pet depending upon its size and behaviour
- Keep your dog out of any direct sunlight and ensure appropriate shade is provided at all times
- Don’t open a car window or door when your dog is unrestrained
- Keep your air conditioning on while driving or alternatively, if no air con is available, keep the windows slightly ajar (but not open enough for your dog to hang their head out of the window)
- Before you leave, check that pets are allowed to travel with the breakdown service you use in case of emergencies