Holiday travel can often be a headache, especially now during the COVID pandemic. Taking our furry friends with us on trips can add to this stress, especially when you haven't done it before, or if your dog tends to get anxious during travel. But there are so many measures you can put in place to make the trip go smoothly and make it a great experience for everyone. Whether you're taking a road trip or hopping on a plane, here are some tips to successfully travel with your dogs for the holidays (and beyond).
TIPS FOR BOTH THE CAR AND PLANE
- Walk them right before the trip so they are less likely to have accidents during it. If it's an early morning departure, don't walk them too late the night before or provide water after dinnertime. Then make sure to feed and walk them just before you leave!
- Give them a tablet of children's Benadryl an hour before travel to avoid motion sickness and help them snooze during the trip. Always check the dosage according to your dog's size (and we recommend feeding it with peanut butter or a pill pocket).
- Don't provide water during the trip and keep snacks/treats limited; treats are a great way to reward and soothe them during travel, but giving them too much may prompt them to need to go!
- If your dog can't hold it for very long or you anticipate a long day of travel, pack a belly band or female diaper to help with any minor accidents!
TRAVELING BY CAR
- First and foremost, desensitize your dog to car rides, and ensure their association with the car is positive. Take them on fun adventures: the beach, the park, the doggy store (not just the vet and groomer!). Provide treats before, during and after while training them to enjoy the car. Take them often on car rides, even for short amounts of time, so they realize it's a normal experience and not a source of anxiety.
- Invest in a doggy car seat! Chewy.com has a great variety of comfortable dog seats. You want to make sure they are comfortable and have their own space during the ride. Car seats are also a great way to safely ride with them because each car seat comes with a leash strap where you connect their harness and make sure they're safely strapped in. You can shorten or extend the leash as much as you'd like, and give them enough rope to climb up to look out the window if that's their thing! In the event of an emergency, it's best to always seat your dog in the backseat to provide them with proper protection. Here are some recommendations for seats we like; we suggest cushioned seats that resemble dog beds and have found that they particularly help with dogs that tend to get sick (as opposed to basket seats). And of course, machine washable beds are always ideal in the event of accidents!
BloBlo - a personal favorite for OC Pom volunteers!
Utotol - a budget-friendly version of the BloBlo with warmer lining
- Provide them with their favorite toys, blankets, etc so they feel at home.
- Stop for potty breaks and let them walk around a bit to help get their energy out.
- If your dog still gets motion sickness with all these measures, Benadryl may not be enough. Talk to your vet about prescription medication for motion sickness.
TRAVELING BY PLANE
- Just like you need to desensitize your dog to the car and car seat, get him/her used to a travel carrier! Leave the carrier open at home and let them explore it; throw some treats and toys in there. Gently put them in it, then build to transporting them in it (in your car, on walks, etc). Always praise them before, during and after.
- Make sure your travel carrier has a cushioned lining on the bottom and that it's big enough for them to move around, but small enough to fit airline requirements. Here are some travel carriers we like!
Sherpa - a classic and popular option with maximum space
PetAmi - a functional option with extra pockets/storage
- After you've checked in and are headed to your gate, look for the service dog relief area; every airport has a patch for dogs to relieve themselves. Take them there right before you board your flight to give them a final opportunity to go.
- Walk them around if you have time so you can get their energy out!
- If you have a long flight or layover, bring a bully stick/bone or puzzle toy to keep them busy and occupied.
- If your dog is an ESA or service dog, seat them on your lap and wrap them with their own blanket; it'll keep them warm during the flight and help them feel bundled and safe.
- Make sure you're prepared and don't leave anything at home! Here's our checklist of items to pack for doggy travel. For things like food, wipes, poop bags, etc, make sure you have a proper count for the duration of your trip.
Food and any supplements you add to their meals
Treats (including bully sticks/bones/etc to occupy them)
Toys and blankets
Benadryl and/or prescription motion sickness medication
Any routine medicine that's scheduled to take during the trip (flea/tick, heartworm, heart meds, seizure meds, etc)
For benadryl or other medication: individual peanut butter packets (plus a ziploc/clips) and pill pockets
For upset stomachs: pumpkin puree packets, probiotic pills, a premade and freeze dried chicken and rice pouch you just add water to (we love this one from Grandma Lucy’s!)
Food and water bowls, preferably collapsible travel bowls
An empty water bottle for on-the-go hydration
Belly bands/female diapers
Mini shampoo/conditioner/conditioning spray kit
Brush & comb
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Paw balm for winter travel
Sweaters, vests, jackets, booties, etc.
Pet/ESA/Service Dog paperwork, including medical records and waivers
A bed or mat if you're traveling by car or able to bring it in your suitcase
Make sure you have the following accessible in your carrier: paperwork, toys, blanket, bone, treats, water bottle, wipes, Benadryl, probiotics, pumpkin, pill pockets, peanut butter, belly band/diaper.
We hope these tips and tricks help make traveling a smoother and happier experience for you and your pup. If you've found other measures to be successful, let us know! Happy holidays!
If you have any questions, reach out to our Instagram @ocpomrescue or our Facebook @theocpomrescue. Learn more about OC Pom Rescue by reading through our website!