Travel with Dogs: Tips for Planes, Trains, and Automobile

Seniors Guide - 09/09/2021

Leaving town, but can’t imagine leaving your four-legged bestie at home? Fortunately, there are methods to help pets owners travel with dogs – and easily!

Vet Check

Before leaving, talk to your veterinarian. Does your dog enjoy travel? Some forms of travel, such as flying, may be very stressful for your pooch; talk to your vet about whether or not your pet is an ideal candidate for travel. In some travel situations, you may be required to produce proof of vaccination or health certification; so while you’re there, be sure that your vet provides proper documentation. Advise your vet that you will be traveling in case of an emergency, and locate an emergency vet near your final destination.


Your dog may feel comforted with some items from home. Bringing your dog’s normal brand of food will help maintain your pup’s appetite while in a more stressful situation, and perhaps save him from tummy troubles. You may also want to bring along a familiar blanket or a favorite toy from home. Although sedation is not recommended before flying due to respiratory and other issues, your vet may be able to suggest other methods of calming your dog, such as essential oils, or calming treats or sprays.

Dog Crates

Regardless of how you travel with dogs (vehicle, plane, train) or your lodging (a hotel, someone’s home, rental, etc.), you will need a sturdy, reliable crate. If your dog is not normally crated, be sure to have the crate available for acclimation ahead of time with a favorite blanket or toy. Be sure that the crate is well ventilated, and large enough for the dog to comfortably lie down and turn around in; be sure to label it with your name and contact information. Your dog should also have collar tags with your contact information, and a microchip if possible.

Driving with Dogs

If you’re traveling with dogs in the car, be sure to stop frequently for exercise. Keep your dog on a leash while in a rest area, and be prepared with clean-up bags for waste. Do not leave your dog unattended in your car, especially on hot days.

Flying with Dogs

It is definitely more complex to travel with dogs on planes, so be sure to check with your airline and your veterinarian beforehand for both requirements and recommendations. The size of your dog will determine how and where in the plane it can travel, so be sure to check with the airlines for size requirements before purchasing a crate or carrier. Secure health certifications and paperwork ahead of time, so that you will not be caught at the last minute trying to secure and submit it.

When You Travel with Dogs by Boat, Train, or Bus

Check with the transportation company before traveling for their rules and requirements. Each company will have very specific policies that may change over time, so do not wait until the last minute to check before traveling.

Accessories for Dog Travel

Consider purchasing a pet travel bag, which may hold collapsible food and water dishes, bottled water, and lined bags for food and treats. Store leashes, collars, waste bags inside to keep everything handy and packed neatly together. Be sure to acclimate the dog to its new dishes before leaving. If flying, be sure that the bag meets airline requirements and has an attached ID tag with contact information. Also, consider purchasing a basic first aid kit including vinyl gloves, iodine, first aid ointment, gauze pads, etc. in case of an injury.


Not all hotels or rentals will allow pets. Before traveling, contact your planned lodging to find out. Be sure to specify the breed and size of your dog, as these things are sometimes restricted. If you have to leave your accommodations and cannot take your pet with you, consider crating your pup, so that he feels more secure in a strange place and will not destroy property that does not belong to you.

Travel with dogs can be a bit more complicated; but with a few extra steps, and a bit of planning ahead of time, it can be easily accomplished.

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.