12 Things You Should Never Do While Traveling With Your Dog

A beagle dog in in a suitcase with things and accessories for summer holidays.

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A beagle dog in in a suitcase with things and accessories for summer holidays.
Viktoriya Telminova/istockphoto

Traveling with Fido

If you're loath to leaving Fido at home while on vacation, you're not alone. While traveling with your pooch can be a joyful experience — full of new bonding experiences and exciting adventures — it still requires careful planning and consideration. This is to ensure the comfort and safety of your pet as well as the convenience of others around you. 

But many pet owners are unaware of the common faux pas that can quickly turn a fun trip into an unpleasant or stressful ordeal. From skipping potty breaks to forgetting supplies, here are 12 things you should never do while traveling with your dog. 

Dog sitting in the back seat of a black car

1. Leaving Your Dog Unattended in the Car

Cars can heat up quickly, reaching temperatures 40 degrees or hotter than the outside in just an hour. This can put your dog at risk of heatstroke or worse within minutes — even on mildly warm or overcast days. To avoid this predicament, ALWAYS take your dog with you when you leave the car. If that's not possible, ensure they're in a well-ventilated space with access to cold water, and check on them frequently.

A golden retriever puppy potty training

2. Skipping Bathroom Breaks

Dogs need regular stops to relieve themselves and stretch their legs. Going long periods without a break can lead to discomfort and potential accidents, especially if they're cooped up in a carrier or crate during your travels. Plan your route with pet-friendly stops and give your dog plenty of opportunities to go to the bathroom. Many airports now also offer pet-relief areas or designated turfs where pets can go potty. 

Dog drinking water from bowl at living room

3. Forgetting to Bring Food and Water

Since changes in food and routine can stress pets, packing their familiar food and plenty of water is essential. Consider bringing a portable water bowl and bottle filled with water that's just for your pooch. It's best to avoid sharing water bowls with other dogs since this can lead to the spread of highly contagious diseases like kennel cough, giardia, or parvovirus (a life-threatening condition). 

Remember to also keep your dog's feeding schedule as regular as possible to avoid gastrointestinal issues. (Trust me — you do not want to be that person cleaning up poop off the airport carpet.)

Dog in collar with metal tag outdoors, closeup
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

4. Forgetting Pet Identification

Dogs are creatures of habit and can become stressed or uncomfortable if their routine is disrupted. When in unfamiliar environments, like airports, the risk of your dog acting out of sorts, or even getting lost, can increase. To avoid this, make sure your dog has a collar with an ID tag and a microchip that's up to date. Keep a recent photo of your dog on your phone for identification purposes in case it does get lost.

Related: The Laziest Dogs in the World

Professional dog walker or pet sitter walking a pack of cute different breed and rescue dogs on leash at city street.
SB Arts Media/istockphoto

5. Ignoring Leash Laws

Different locations may have different leash laws, and it’s important to respect these to ensure the safety of your dog and other travelers. A leash not only prevents accidents but also keeps your dog from getting lost or causing trouble with other animals or people. Consider looking up the leash laws of your destination and any stops along the way to ensure compliance and avoid potential fines or other issues.

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Cute dachshund pet lies in dog bed at dog-friendly hotel
Ирина Мещерякова/istockphoto

6. Overlooking Pet-Friendly Accommodations

While many states in the U.S. are super dog-friendly, this doesn't mean it will be the same in other cities or countries. Remember that not all hotels or Airbnbs will accept pets, and some may have specific restrictions or fees. To avoid having to pay extra, research and book ahead to find a comfortable and welcoming place for both you and your pet. Checking reviews from other pet owners can provide valuable insights.

Related: Pet-Friendly Hotels in the U.S. To Visit With Your Four-Legged Friend

The veterinarian doctor treating, checking on dog at vet clinic
Supitnan Pimpisarn/istockphoto

7. Skipping a Pre-Trip Vet Visit

A pre-trip checkup with the vet can help rule out any health concerns to ensure your dog is healthy and ready to travel. This is also a great time to discuss preventive measures for anxiety or motion sickness, update any necessary vaccinations or boosters, and obtain health certificates required for certain destinations. 

Related: Dog and Cat Breeds With the Highest Veterinary Bills

Dog accessories on yellow background. Top view. Pets and animals concept
Sergey Nazarov/istockphoto

8. Packing Insufficient Pet Supplies

If you have an anxious pup, as I do, then you know it's crucial to pack all the essentials, including medications, chew toys, treats, grooming tools, waste bags, and extra leashes. Remember, the goal is to mimic your dog’s home environment as much as possible to minimize stress. Including a favorite toy or blanket that has your scent can provide comfort in unfamiliar settings and help Fido stay calm while in a carrier. 

Woman traveling in Gornergrat train

9. Failing to Prepare Your Dog for Travel

If your dog is not accustomed to travel, consider gradually introducing them to it by taking them on shorter trips and increasing the duration over time. This gradual practice can help alleviate anxiety and acclimate your dog to longer periods in a vehicle or plane. It can also be helpful to play gentle music or use calming sprays to reduce stress and make the travel experience more pleasant for your pet. 

Photo of cute dog sitting on suitcase at airport
Su Arslanoglu/istockphoto

10. Not Planning for Emergencies

When visiting new cities with unfamiliar languages and customs, it's always best to be safe than sorry and be prepared for any potential issues. Always have an emergency plan that includes knowing the locations of veterinary clinics along your route. Carry a basic pet first-aid kit and familiarize yourself with handling common health issues on the road, such as cuts, heatstroke, or ingestion of foreign objects. 

Dog lying on the bed and barking

11. Allowing Your Dog to Disturb Other Travelers

We've all seen it: owners who don't pick up after their dogs or allow them to misbehave and bark incessantly. To avoid being the person everyone is rolling their eyes at, train your dog to behave well while in public. This means controlling barking and ensuring they do not invade the personal space of others. Consider using a crate or carrier when on public transportation to keep your dog secure and contained.

cute dachshund dog, black and tan, dressed in a yellow rain coat stands in a puddle on a city street
Ирина Мещерякова/istockphoto

12. Forgetting to Check Weather Conditions

Extreme weather conditions, especially scorching heat, can pose significant risks to your dog's health. (Just imagine wearing a fur coat in 90 degree weather). As such, it's always best to be prepared for the conditions you might encounter. Pack appropriate clothing for your dog, such as a waterproof coat for rain or an insulated jacket for cold weather, and if possible, avoid traveling in extreme heat.