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How to travel with a dog

Traveling with dogs

It’s hard to travel with pets, whether your animal is large or small, cat or dog. Whatever the mode of transportation, it’s essential to prepare for the trip, which requires some proper planning. Some trips are easier for dogs than others, but you want to make sure your pup is as comfortable as possible no matter what.

Taking care of a canine at home is hard enough, so traveling with your dog is going to take extra prep time, a few new purchases and a lot of patience. With our help, you’ll have no problem traveling with your dog.

How to travel with your dog

Make sure your dog is ready to travel 

Before you hit the road, take your dog for a check-up. The veterinarian will ensure they are up to date on shots and free of any parasites or other illnesses. Health records are a requirement for air travel, so bring a health certificate. More importantly, your dog should be healthy and feel good enough for any trip. You’ll also need to verify your pet’s registration information is up to date for their microchip. Also, ensure they are comfortable with any carrier or crate they may be traveling in as they may be spending extended periods there.

Stock up on the essentials

First, stock up on your dog’s regular food, ensuring that you have more than enough kibble or wet food to last your trip. If you’re traveling by car, pack some large jugs of non-distilled water for fill-ups along the way. You should bring plenty of your dog’s favorite snacks, toys, chewing sticks and anything else that to keep your pup happy or, if necessary, distracted. Pack plenty of extra poop bags, emergency potty pads, dental treats and anxiety-calming treats to ensure your animal will be comfortable on the trip.

Find the right crate or carrier

If you have a small dog, you can bring them on some flights, but the number of restrictions makes flying with your pet pretty difficult. Small dogs must fit under the seat in front of yours, so your little friend mustn’t be too large for the small space. Whether flying in the cabin or cargo hold, the dog will be required to travel in a carrier or crate. It’s crucial to find a crate that will allow your pet as much space as possible. With as many challenges as air travel, or other large-capacity modes like train or ship, we recommend avoiding bringing your pet if the trip seems like it will be too stressful for the dog.

On the other hand, if you are driving with your dog, they must be safely secured in the back seat and unable to freely move around the vehicle. If you have a large dog, you should bring a collapsible crate that fits in storage, but the pet will need restraining from the back seat, preferably with a human supervisor. Small dogs can be kept safe in a properly-sized pet carrier, secured with a seat belt. You should avoid keeping your dog in the car’s front seat, especially for long trips, as airbag deployment can cause severe injury. Also, despite the temptation, your dog should not be able to stick their head out of the window to avoid potentially serious health issues or injury. Consider a well-ventilated carrier or crate if you need to roll your windows down or put down a convertible top.

Get your dog’s travel gear together

Once you have a suitable carrier and travel crate, you should purchase any other travel items your dog may need. This may include collapsible food and water bowls, a first aid kit, travel bed and blankets, safety restraints, etc. New games and toys are recommended in addition to your dog’s favorites for keeping your dog occupied while awake. 

Prepare your vehicle and plan for stops

Make sure that your car is dog-ready before you start your trip by securing their carrier or seat with a seat belt. Set your dog up with a blanket, chewing sticks or toys to keep them comfortable and occupied during the first leg of your trip. It may be helpful to scout your route ahead of time for rest stops with pet relief areas to ensure you have plenty of opportunities to stop for food, water, exercise and bathroom breaks. 

Traveling with your dog

Pet Gear Medium Car Booster

If you have a small dog who loves to look at the scenery, this booster seat gives them a soft and cozy perch that locks into your seat belt for optimum safety. You can also tether your dog’s harness to the seat to prevent them from roaming about the car. 

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy

BarksBar Original Waterproof Car Seat Cover

This seat cover has the dual benefits of keeping your car seats clean and preventing your dog from falling or hiding between seats when it’s in hammock mode. Ideal for larger dogs who like to sleep during trips.

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy

Frisco Heavy Duty Fold & Carry Crate

Available in multiple sizes, this collapsible crate should fit in the bottom of your trunk or storage area. Perfect for leaving your dog in the room while you go sightseeing.

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy

Pet Gear Signature Car Seat & Carrier Bag

This carrier and car seat combo is suitable for small dogs that need a little extra security, and its dual use makes it an excellent deal. 

Where to buy: Sold by Chewy


Matt Fleming is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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