Helpful Travel Links
Taking your dog along can make the family vacation more fun for everyone, if you plan carefully. Here are some trip tips to make traveling with your dog enjoyable.
Traveling By Car
- Secure your dog in a crate, carrier or harness that attaches to the seat belt. Pet supply stores sell harnesses, and carry a range of sizes that will fit most breeds, from Pugs to Great Danes! No animal should ever ride loose in the bed of a pick-up truck, which can lead to serious injuries or death in the event of an accident.
- To prevent ear and eye injuries, do not allow your pooch to stick his head out the car window.
- Stop regularly to allow your dog to relieve himself and take a drink. A familiar toy or bed can also make the trip more comfortable.
- Do not leave your pet unattended in the car on hot days ever. Temperatures can rise quickly, causing heat stroke and other problems even with windows open. Stop immediately if your dog begins to pant excessively, drool or act sluggish and unresponsive.
By Train, Bus and Boat
- If you decide to travel by train, you may be disappointed. Amtrak does not allow pets of any kind, including dogs. (Service dogs are permitted.) Local and commuter trains have their own policies.
- Travel by bus may be equally disappointing. Greyhound and other bus companies that travel interstate are not allowed to carry live animals, including dogs. (Service dogs are permitted.) Local bus companies have their own policies.
- Federal law (Americans with Disabilities Act) allows equal access to all "Service Dogs" (ie., hearing assistance, mobility assistance, etc.). It is crucial if you are traveling with a service dog to alert the carrier that you are coming with a service dog so that they may accommodate you with special seating, if available. If you travel with a service dog, you need to know those laws and carry a copy of the law with you and the number for the ADA office in the U.S. Department of Justice, (800) 514-0301 (voice) and (800) 514-0383 (TDD). You may come across a gate agent, ticket seller, conductor, etc. who does not know the law.
- If you're taking a cruise, you may be in luck. For example, the QE2 luxury cruiser, which sails from New York to England/France, provides special lodging and free meals for your dog. Check with the cruise line or ship that you are planning to use for its policies. Smaller ships will usually not be able to accommodate your dog.
Health and Safety
- Bring your dog to the vet's for a check up before going on an extended trip. Make sure all his vaccinations are up to date; bring his shot records with you. Health certifications are required for airline travel.
- To keep your dog healthy as you travel, bring along a supply of his regular food and some local, or bottled, water. Be sure to bring any medications he needs.
- Take the phone number of your veterinarian and any special medication your dog needs.
A crate is an excellent way to keep your dog safe in the car, and is required for airline travel. It can also keep your pet from getting into trouble in a hotel or at your host's home. Crates are available from most pet supply stores. Look for these features when purchasing:
- Large enough to allow the dog to stand, turn and lie down.
- Strong, with handles and grips, and free of interior protrusions.
- Leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent material.
- Ventilation on opposing sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow.
- "Live Animal" label, arrows upright, with owner's name, address and phone number.
- Stock the crate with a comfortable mat, your dog's favorite toy, and a water bottle, and your dog is ready to go.
In the event that your dog gets away from you on your trip, you can increase the chances of recovery by making sure he can be properly identified:
- Make sure your dog has a sturdy leash and collar. The collar should have identification tags with the dog's name, your name, and your home phone number, as well as proof of rabies shots.
- Consider a permanent form of identification, such as a microchip
- Carry recent pictures of your dog with you. If you are accidentally separated, these pictures will help local authorities find your dog.
- International travel involves much more than interstate travel. Each country has its own rules and regulations.
- Many countries have a quarantine period. Check with the embassy or consulate of the country of your destination for details.
- It is Important to check with United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for specific travel and documentation requirements prior to travel. Please use the following links.
For more information and helpful tips on traveling with your pet please visit:
Travel ChecklistAmerican Veterinary Medical Association
Frequently asked questions about traveling with your pet – AVMA
Import and Export and Interstate Travel – Veterinary Practice Resource Center – AVMA
United States Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Care Pet Travel Page
USDA Veterinary Services Area Offices Locator
International Air Transport Association Live Animals Transportation by Air (includes guidelines on selecting an appropriately sized animal carrier)