What To Bring When Taking Your Dog On Vacation

A dog sticking his head out a car window

Everyone needs a vacation now and then, and any vacation is better with companions. No one likes the feeling of leaving their pet home while the family goes on vacation. Most of us will be too worried about our four-legged friends to enjoy the trip. That trip to the beach would be made even better with your pet by your side. So let’s go over some tips for safe doggy traveling and maybe by the end we’ll have convinced you traveling with your pet doggo can be not only safe but fun!

Getting Prepared

Whether you're headed off on an urban adventure or booking the affordable beach vacation of your dreams, before we start booking hotels and packing bags we first have to make sure that our sweet little buddies are in the best of conditions. Take some time to schedule an appointment with your vet and make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel. Ask your vet about any issues that may arise in your dog from you taking it on vacation, as well as any precautions that need to be made before or during the trip. This is also a good time to make sure your pet is up-to-date on all of its vaccinations and shots. Before you set out make sure you have the number, address, and hours of operation for the nearest emergency veterinarian hospital near your vacation destination in case of emergencies.

All dogs are different and some dog breeds need more care and consideration when traveling than others. For example, some dog breeds have lots of fur and are most comfortable in cooler climates. If you plan on vacationing to Arizona you’re likely going to make your dog pretty uncomfortable with the intense heat there. It’s best to consider a vacation spot that will be enjoyable for both you and your pet.

Next, you’ll want to make sure your pet’s ID card is up to date and accurate. ID tags go on your pet's collar and provide helpful information in case your dog gets lost. ID tags have the owner's name and contact information as well as rabies tags and the pet's name. These are essential not just for when you are traveling with your pet, but also for when you are back home. If you haven't gotten ID tags for your pet please do so as soon as possible. For more information on tags and microchips check here.

You're going to want to make sure your pet is comfortable in a carrier before you start making travel plans. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling by boat, plane, car, or train, your dog will be the safest in a carrier. A carrier prevents your dog from roaming about or running away during the traveling portion of the trip. If you’re planning on taking a form of transportation other than your car you can bet that they are going to require you to have your pet in a carrier in order to board. If your dog isn’t used to carriers it's best to introduce him/her to it several weeks before the trip. Make sure they are comfortable in it for long periods of time.

A dog on vacation

Remember to pick a vacation destination that both of you will enjoy! Image courtesy of Unsplash.

What to Pack for Your Dog When Going on Vacation

One of the most important things to remember to take with you on a vacation with your pet is a canine first aid kit. Your canine first aid kit should include items like-- 

  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotics
  • First aid spray
  • Bandages (non-stick)
  • Cotton balls
  • Muzzle

These items should help you treat your pet in case of an immediate injury while waiting for emergency services or while on the way to the vet. 

You are also going to want to bring some extra dog food with you for the trip. Sure you can pick up some dog food when you get to the vacation spot, but what if they don’t sell the kind your pet likes there? You also want to be prepared just in case your trip's travel time is extended because of unforeseen circumstances—like a bad storm or car troubles. We wouldn’t want a hungry doggy now would we? You’ll also want to bring a case of bottled water as well. Just like humans, dogs can’t survive long without water. Better to be safe than sorry.

Lastly, you’ll want to bring some toys and games for your dog to play with during the trip. Bring some of their old favorites, along with some that are brand new. You really want to make sure your dog doesn’t get bored during the trip. These toys can also be used to calm your pet down just in case travel starts to make him/her feel scared or uncomfortable.

A dog playing with a ball on the beach

Depending on your vacation spot, you should be prepared to clean a lot of toys, and your dog. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Tips For the Traveling Process

The travel process can differ greatly depending on what method you're using to get to your vacation destination. If you are planning on traveling by plane, make sure you make reservations for your pet during the ticket-buying process or as soon as possible. Many airlines have different rules related to pets and only have so many accommodations prepared for pets at a time. These accommodations are often done on a first come first serve basis so be proactive! You also need to double-check and make sure you know and understand all the rules associated with traveling with pets on the plane.

If traveling by car you should make sure to plan multiple bathroom breaks for your dog. Giving them a chance to get out of the car and stretch their legs will be much appreciated. This will also lower your dog’s stress and anxiety about the trip. You should also make sure not to overfeed your dog before the trip. Dogs can often get car sick if they’ve had too much to eat. If the drive isn’t very long, consider not feeding your dog until you arrive at your destination, this minimizes your dog's chance of getting car sick.

A dog looking out a car window

Many dogs get anxious when in the car for too long, so be sure to take a lot of breaks! Image courtesy of Unsplash.

When it comes to buses, trains, and boats you’re in a bit of a tricky situation. Most buses don’t allow pets or have their own policies regarding them that are unique to that specific company. Most trains only allow pets up to a certain size and weight so if you’re an owner of a bigger dog you may be out of luck. Cruises and boats are similar to buses, boats don’t allow pets at all but some are different. It’s best to call ahead and double-check the company's policy and see if they offer accommodations for pets. 


Honestly, traveling with a pet is hard work. There are many things you’ll need to check and recheck before you even think about making hotel reservations. But, if you’re someone who is used to traveling with their family or even just with your kids, this should feel pretty familiar. It’s a lot of checking and rechecking and planning and worrying, but when all is said and done, and you and your doggo are sitting on the beach together, you’ll know it was all worth it.

Have you ever thought about taking your dog to the office? If so take a look at this article!

A girl and her dog playing on a beach

Totally worth it! Image courtesy of Unsplash.

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