Direct4Pet's Top Tips for travelling with a dog
Taking your dog along with you on family holidays is not only fun for the family but your pet too. Travelling somewhere new gives dogs a chance to experience unfamiliar surroundings and can be great for mental enrichment, however, if you don’t plan effectively ahead of travelling with your dog, it can present some obstacles. Whether you’re travelling by car, bus, train or plane, you may encounter a variety of issues that could be avoided with better preparation. As many dogs can experience anxiety and sickness while travelling, it’s important that you are well equipped with everything you need to make travelling with your dog as smooth as possible.
Read on to discover our top tips for travelling with your dog, from what to pack to how to keep your pet calm and comfortable, we’ve got everything you need to keep your pup and the family happy on your next adventure.
What are the best tips for travelling with a dog?
The number one tip for travelling with a dog is to make your travel decisions based on what your pet will be most comfortable with and what is the most safe. If your trip will involve your dog being left alone for prolonged periods of time, then they may be best staying at home in a comfortable environment with a person they are familiar with. However, if your trip will consist of lots of quality time with your pup then an adventure to a new place can be fun for them.
Consider the general temperament of your dog and what their usual levels of anxiety are like when it comes to travelling. Some dogs will be fine travelling by car and some may not, similarly, trains and planes may cause your pet a lot more stress than it is worth to take them with you. In this instance, we suggest consulting with your vet and making an informed decision that is best for your pup, whilst also considering the following factors;
Ensure your dog is in good health
If you’re travelling further afield, especially on an aeroplane, you will be required to provide your dog’s health certifications and vaccination records. Therefore, we recommend taking your dog for a check up at the vets before travelling. This will ensure that your dog is in both good mental and physical health and up to date with all of their necessary vaccinations so that they are in the best shape for travelling.
It goes without saying however, if there is an emergency whilst you are away on your trip, it's important to make sure you are aware of the nearest 24 hour vets just to be on the safe side.
Make sure they are easily identifiable
Although it is not nice to think of, it’s important to be prepared for an instance in which your dog may get lost. Therefore, we strongly recommend that your dog has an identification tag on their collar with up-to-date information and in accordance with the current laws, is properly micro chipped, so that they can be easily found if they manage to escape your care.
Your dog may also need a pet passport if you are travelling abroad, along with various other health certificates and documents, as detailed here on the Gov.uk site. Make sure to read up on everything you need to know before planning your trip.
Keep your dog safe in all vehicles
No matter what vehicle you will be travelling in, making sure your dog is safe and secure is vital to a successful (and legal!) trip. For cars, there are dog car booster seats available which can be securely attached to your seats and your dog’s collar or harness to keep them safe on car journeys. Alternatively, a crate, dog carrier or seatbelt clip can be used in cars, trains and planes to keep your dog safe and in their own protected environment.
Take a variety of comfort items
Travelling in any capacity can be stressful for some dogs, therefore, ensuring you have familiar items to hand can help ease their anxiety and make the journey a lot more comfortable for them. We suggest taking a bed or blanket from home to put in their crate or car seat for a comfortable item that smells familiar, along with their favourite toy and treats. Creating a calming and cosy environment will help make the journey more pleasant for your pet and you - we recommend a soft plush toy infused with calming scents such as lavender which can be found at Direct4Pet.
The best products for travelling with a dog
To ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for your pup we have a variety of products available here at Direct4Pet to help make travelling a fun experience for the whole family. From dog travel carriers to car accessories and travel dog beds, we’ve got you covered.
Travel dog beds
If you’re planning on travelling during the warmer months, a cooling dog bed is a must have for keeping your dog cool on a long journey. This Scruffs Cool Chilling Dog Pet Bed features an inner self-cooling mat that offers a 5-10 degree cooler temperature than the room it’s in, filled with non-toxic cooling gel to help keep your dog cool for up to 1 hour. With a breathable 3D mesh to help improve airflow and a foam base for enhanced comfort and support, this bed is designed to provide ultimate relief for your pet in the heat. To reset the cooling properties of this bed, simply leave it unused for 1 hour and it’s good to go again. Available in a variety of sizes for dogs of all breeds, this Scruffs cooling dog bed will be your dog’s new best friend when travelling this summer.
If you’re worried your dog may have some accidents when travelling, especially if you’re planning on travelling further afield with limited stops, a water-resistant dog bed is a good choice to keep to hand. This Rosewood Green Water Resistant Crate Mattress comes in a green quilted, water resistant material that is easy to clean and great for travelling adventures involving water, sickness or possible toilet mishaps. With padded, raised sides and a soft base, this dog bed is ideal for putting in a crate when travelling to keep your dog comfortable and your car clean.
Browse through our full collection of travel dog beds to find the best bed to suit your needs.
Dog travel carriers
Dog crates are a great solution for travelling with your dog as they can be easily placed into the boot of the car to keep your dog secure when driving. These crates can also serve a dual purpose of carving out a safe space for your dog when you arrive at your holiday destination.This Rosewood Options Dog Cage Crate uses heavy duty nylon clips on the hinges and doors for fast and simple assembly that simply clicks into place and has a fully fitted tray on the bottom to place your dog’s bed and comfort items on.
If your dog would feel more comfortable sitting on the back seat of the car you need to make sure that they are secured to the seat using a dog seatbelt that connects to their harness or a dog pet booster seat. This Henry Wag Pet Dog Car Travel Booster Seat uses a tether clip to secure your dog's harness, fixed around the head restraint and seat back for security giving your dog a safe riding position. Featuring a padded base with removable fleece liner for winter journeys and a mesh panel for summer ventilation, this pet booster seat is perfect for all types of car travel with your pup.
Dog car seat covers
No matter where you’re travelling to, having a cover for your seats will help to protect your car from unwanted dirt, water, dog hair and anything else that may potentially damage your car seats. The Henry Wag Car Travel Boot 'N' Bumper Pet Dog Car Protector fits easily into the back of your car or boot to provide comfort for dogs and protection for your car at the same time. Simply fit around the rear head restraints and rear seats with velcro for an easy-to-clean and comfortable space for your dog to sit when travelling.
Similar to this, Henry Wag, also offer a smaller Travel Single Car Seat Cover to help protect your car from muddy paws and wet coats. Easy to fit and remove, this car seat cover can be easily adjusted to fit securely into most cars and is made from hard wearing yet comfortable fabric, with a waterproof backing and can be easily brushed or wiped down when needed.
When travelling with your dog, having a towel to hand is an overlooked essential as you never know when your pup is going to get into a wet or muddy situation. The Henry Wag Drying Coat helps to effectively remove water and dirt to help keep your pup clean, reduce chances of infection and keep your interiors clean too. Used for after wet walks, swimming or bathing, the microfibre material of this towel helps to effectively wick water from your dog’s coat leaving them fresh and dry in minutes.
Alternatively, for a quick and easy way to clean your dog’s paws, the Dexas MudBuster Portable Dog Paw Washer is a unique product that helps to quickly clean your dog’s dirty paws. Simply add a little water to it, insert your dog’s paw, twist around and pat their paw dry - it’s that easy! Featuring multiple soft, gentle and durable silicone bristles in an easy-to-grip tumbler, this is the perfect travel companion that can be used after every walk to keep your dog clean.
How do I calm my dog’s anxiety when travelling?
For some dogs, travelling can be an anxiety-inducing experience as they may associate it with going to the vets or they may just be more nervous in new environments. Here are a few top tips to calming your dog’s anxiety when travelling;
- Get your dog used to the car or train - if you’re planning on taking your dog on a long car journey or train for the first time, getting them used to those environments can help make it an easier transition when it comes to travelling. Start with small trips to more familiar destinations that they enjoy so that they can start to positively associate the car or train with somewhere fun.
- Have anxiety calming products and medication to hand - to give your dog a little extra help calming their anxiety, a calming tablet, treat or calming collar can help reduce your dog’s stress when travelling.
- Fill their travel carrier or crate with home comforts - taking your dog’s favourite blanket, toy or bed with them is a great way to help calm your pet’s anxiety when travelling. Being surrounded by familiar scents and items that usually keep them comfortable will help to make them feel more relaxed during long journeys.
Dog anxiety calming products
For a quick and effective calming treatment for your dog the Beaphar Calming Spot On contains a natural and effective blend of valerian and other calming herbs for a treatment that helps to reduce anxiety and problem behaviour in dogs. Just one single application of this will help to calm your dog for up to one week, perfect for travelling with your dog to help alleviate anxiety and destructive behaviour.
Another great calming product for your dog when travelling is the Pet Remedy Dog Calming Bandana & Spray. This luxury, 100% cotton bandana can be sprayed with the popular Pet Remedy calming spray to help keep your pet calm in stressful situations, simply distribute a couple of sprays onto the bandana and tie securely on your dog's neck. This spray can also be used on any furnishings or bedding and is safe to spray directly onto your pet but is recommended it is not somewhere they can easily lick it off. The smell of the calming formula helps to alleviate anxiety for up to 4 hours, simply re-apply as often as necessary to give your dog a stress-free travel experience.
To help give your dog comfort and calming effects at the same time, the Rosewood Aromadog Calming Dog Toy is filled with a 100% therapeutic grade blend of essential oils including lavender sweet marjoram and chamomile, designed to help soothe and calm your dog. By releasing the calming aroma during play time, this squeaking and soft toy is perfect for giving your dog on long car journeys to not only entertain but also relax. Helping to control hyperactivity, repetitive behaviour, separation anxiety and destructive nervousness the unique Chill Out Oil blend is fast-acting and powerful.
Combining tasty treats with relaxation, the Zylkene Calming Chews for Dogs are the UK’s No.1 veterinary calming supplement for dogs and an essential for travelling with your four-legged friend. This tasty, soft chew treat helps your dog to cope with challenging situations such as travelling and contains the natural milk protein, Casein, that has clinically proven calming effects with no drowsiness. In order for these calming treats to have the full effect on your dog we recommend that you start using them 1-2 days before you’re due to travel. If you’re unsure of how much to give your dog, please consult the packaging and your vet ahead of your travels to find out the correct daily dose and how long it can be given to your dog to ensure safe usage.
How do I prepare my dog for a long car ride?
When preparing your dog for a long car ride you need to ensure you’ve covered the following things:
- Make sure your dog is fed and watered - ensuring your dog has had a filling meal and plenty of water is vital to keeping them relaxed at the start of your journey. However we recommend not feeding them too close to travelling as you want to avoid any accidents in the car, a couple hours beforehand is the perfect amount of time.
- Walk your dog before you begin your journey - going on a nice long walk with your dog before you begin a lengthy car ride will help to relax your pet and tire them out so that they are less likely to be restless in the car.
- Ensure they have a comfortable space to sit - whether you choose to put your dog in a crate in the boot of the car or in a secure car booster seat, making sure they have a comfortable and safe space to relax on the long journey is vital to keeping them relaxed throughout the long journey.
- Have treats and toys to hand for entertainment - if your dog starts to get restless during the long car ride, having their favourite toys or treats readily available will help to keep them occupied and provide a distraction until you are able to make a scheduled stop in your journey.
- Keep them calm and relaxed throughout - dog’s may get anxious and stressed during long journeys, therefore we suggest giving your pet a calming medication before you set off to help encourage them to relax. Make sure you pack more calming products with you in case your dog needs a little extra help staying relaxed on your long car ride.
How long of a car ride is too long for a dog?
The length of time your dog should spend travelling in a car is dependent upon both the age and health of your dog. For puppies who need to go to the toilet more frequently, shorter length car rides are recommended so that they can have regular breaks to use the toilet and have a run around. Older dogs who are more used to travelling in the car can go for longer, however, we recommend giving your dog a break every 2-4 hours to prevent them getting restless and stressed.
When stopping for a rest on a car journey, we advise that this break lasts no less than 15 minutes in order to ensure your dog gets a good chance to stretch their legs, go to the toilet and get some fresh air and water. If you’re planning an extra long car journey then we suggest that you don’t drive with your dog for longer than 7 hours per day in total.