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The Ultimate Pet Health Travel Guide

How to doggy-proof your wanderlust

Couple looking at map with dog, traveling in car

Your dog’s overall well-being is always important, but when traveling, ensuring all their medical needs are accounted for can help minimize any health issues or expenses that could arise. When planning the perfect dog-friendly trip, following these tips will lead to a stress-free family vacation. Click To Tweet



If your dog has a medical condition or any kind of allergies, a note from your veterinarian or a prescription could save you time and problems. It can be very frustrating to spend precious vacation time trying to get a prescription because your pet’s medicine was located in luggage that went missing, or forgotten in a midway hotel.

Even if the Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend the use of tranquilizers or sedatives due to respiratory problems, your vet could consider it appropriate to prescribe medicines or recommend some natural remedies to keep your dog relaxed during the trip or Diphenhydramine HCl (Dramamine) to prevent motion sickness. If your dog took any medicine before flying, be sure to inform the airline about it at the check in stage.

Paperwork & Vaccinations

Even if your dog visits the veterinarian regularly, a call or a medical consultation prior to your trip can help you avoid future problems. Your vet can help you make sure that their documentation is consistent with all the legal requirements of the destination that you are traveling to.

A health certificate issued by a veterinarian containing information about your pet’s health condition and current vaccines might be required for certain interstate and international travels.

In certain cases, it might be necessary to adjust your dog’s vaccinations to meet the requirements of boarding kennels, border authorities, transportation companies, or travel companies. Make sure to arrange your appointment well in advance in order to monitor the potential side effects or allergic reactions that could result from vaccines.

While specific regulations vary by airline, all of them require a health certificate issued less than 10 days before the flight.

Common Health Problems

Along with food poisoning, allergic reactions, and accidental injuries, which are among the most common health conditions that require urgent care, traveling can increase the risk of:

  • Travel anxiety
  • Motion sickness
  • Respiratory problems
  • Temperature intolerance
  • Contagion
  • Injuries

Travel Anxiety & Motion Sickness

When flying or during long trips, some dogs can suffer from anxiety, motion sickness, and stress. Click To Tweet Small dogs are permitted in the cabin of the plane in a proper airline carrier while larger ones are transported via cargo.

Some dogs are prone to getting sick when traveling, so it is important to maintain the car well ventilated. Pets need to be well-hydrated and always have access to water as stress will cause them to experience thirst.

Limiting the food and water intake prior to departure and offering your dog small portions of food and water during the trip can minimize this problem. Ice made out of safe drinking water can also help your four-legged friend remain cool and hydrated.

Aromatherapy can sometimes be a very effective way to calm and reduce stress in your pet by replicating natural maternal pheromones. These drug-free natural products come for dogs and cats as a calming diffuser kit, in spray and in collars. Aromatherapy can be a natural solution to help a dog feel comfortable in otherwise stressful situations such as traveling, thunderstorms, fireworks. It can also address separation anxiety and excessive barking. Click To Tweet

Respiratory Problems & Temperature Intolerance

It is always important to consider your pet’s health when traveling, especially when flying, and more importantly, when traveling by cargo. It is strongly recommended to visit your pet’s vet before taking your fur baby on a flight.

With A Pet On A Plane

Only small dogs under 20 pounds can be brought aboard on a “one per person” basis, so long as they fit into a carrier of dimensions not exceeding 17″ x 12.5″ x 8.5″ and can be tucked under the seat in front.

While some airlines do not allow large pets, many allow dogs larger than 20 pounds to be transported as cargo in a transport crate. This is not an easy time for any pet since their water and food supply for the trip is limited, in addition to layovers and delays that might not give them the opportunity to take a much needed potty break.

Moreover, since an airplane cargo bay is not a heavily regulated environment in terms of temperature, a trip could become a life-threatening experience and increase the risks of heart and respiratory problems on breeds who have a low tolerance for extreme temperatures.

Short-nosed dogs or “brachycephalic” breeds such as Boxers, Shih Tzu, Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Pekingese, are heat intolerant and consequently prone to respiratory failure, heat stroke, fainting, and collapse due to respiratory limitations.

Because of this, airlines impose weather, temperature and time of the year restrictions when they allow pets to be shipped as cargo. Due to these restrictions, travel by cargo may be prohibited if the temperature in at least one of the cities in the itinerary exceeds eighty or eighty five degrees Fahrenheit.

Funny photo of the Shiba Inu dog dressed a pilot in front of plane

To avoid the negative reputation associated with animal deaths and to protect pets at a higher risk of developing health problems during flights, many airlines have published a list of dog and cat breeds which are not permitted to travel on their planes.

Since pet policies and safety regulations vary according to the airline, some breeds that are banned by a given airline may be allowed by another.

Airport Pet Relief Area

If you are flying, remember that many airports have a pet relief area that often includes a green space or park for traveling pets. Some of these facilities offer animal care, grooming, veterinary services and other amenities to best serve your pet during trips and make your family vacation more enjoyable.

Most international airports in North America and some major airports in South America and Western Europe offer indoor or outdoor pet relief amenities.

Some facilities such as the Vancouver International Airport in Canada provide pet parents with the advantage of accessing the in-terminal pet relief space without leaving the airport’s security area.

However, for any traveling family whose fur babies does not fit within in-cabin requirements and need to ship their pets by cargo, the animal facilities at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) are guaranteed to fit your and your pets’ every need.

The Ark at JFK International Airport offers pre- and post-flight care to pets as well as sporting and agricultural animals. The facilities are meant to provide a comfortable environment and reduce the stress that owners and animals suffer during the importing and exporting process. Horses, cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, turtles, baby goats, and a broad variety of animals, its owners, and shippers find veterinary care and relief services at the reception terminal, quarantine center, and in-transit bonded area of The Ark at the JFK airport.

Services and amenities are divided in six different sections at The Ark, which include a veterinary hospital for small animals, a long-term pet boarding facility, spa and grooming facilities, training services, an equine export and equine import quarantine area, The Ark Aviary, and a 24/7 central resource for in-transit pets, called the Ark Pet Oasis.

Avoiding Cargo Shipping

For pet parents whose itinerary includes flights, but refuse to ship their fur babies by cargo, online marketplaces for shipping services offer the opportunity to ship dogs, cats, horses, and other animals by land.

Their guidelines to prepare your pet for the trip includes a health certificate showing that your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and properly identified or microchipped. You can list your needs and choose amongst many different quotes to find the transporter that best suits your needs, so as to ensure your pet’s safety and well-being.

Many no-kill shelters use their services for shipping adopted pets to their forever homes.

Disease Contagion, Accidents & Injuries

Dogs On The Road

Due to accidents and safety concerns when shipping animals via cargo, many pet owners look for better alternatives to bring their fur babies on vacation, making traveling by land a popular and simple solution.

If you plan on bringing your dog on a road trip either by car or motorcycle, keep in mind the following tips: Click To Tweet
  • Visit your pet’s veterinary for a checkup before leaving;
  • Keep your dog’s papers and proof of up-to-date vaccinations, specially rabies, handy;
  • Ensure that you have an adequate and safe pet carrier;
  • Keep your pet well hydrated and placed in a ventilated place at all times; and
  • Take breaks and walk your pet regularly.

Happy family getting ready for road trip on a sunny day

Traveling pets not always means that they are on vacation. In many occasions, traveling is required due to relocation. For many pet parents, settling down in a new place and moving miles away is not a simple task and can be stressful for pets. In these cases, a pet transport service is a great solution.

Road Tripping & RVing

While pet-friendly hotels and vacation rentals are popular amongst those who love traveling with their pets, RVs are one of the best options for families with big-sized dogs. They are also a great solution for when the number of fur babies exceeds the 2-pet policy of most pet-friendly accommodations. It is also the perfect answer for travelers that seek adventure, visiting multiple destinations and road tripping without having to worry about where to stay at night.

Renting an RV for a pet-friendly vacation offers the advantage of combining an outdoorsy lifestyle with traditional pet-friendly accommodations, thus reducing both accommodation and transportation costs. Click To Tweet Search Motorhome Rentals All Over The World – Drive Your Adventure

When camping with your dog and planing to stay at a campground, inform yourself about their pet policy. Most of them can require complete vaccination records and up-to-date shots, namely rabies.

Resting and Recharging

Every time a pet is roaming common pet areas, they can be exposed to germs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites) which can lead to serious health problems. Click To Tweet During vacations, either in a campground, a dog-friendly beach, a pet rest area, or a dog park there may be also risks of diseases of the area as well as other hazards related to the environment. Some of the following problems:

  • Rabies
  • Canine Influenza
  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Leptospirosis
  • Fungal Infections
  • Kennel Cough
  • Heartworm
  • Intestinal Parasites
  • Fleas & Ticks
  • Feral Animals
  • Pesticides & Fertilizers
  • Toxic Plants
  • Heatstroke
  • Accidents & Injuries

Additionally, it is important to stop regularly to give your four-legged friend time to exercise, get tired, and go to the bathroom. During trips, dogs have excessive energy from being confined to a small space. So, whatever your mode of transportation may be, they need time to release their stress and boredom.

If you are going on a road trip, plan a stop every two hours during one of the many welcome centers, rest areas and plazas along the main highways. Many of these have bathrooms, stores, restaurants as well as picnic areas, and some of them also have spaces designated for pets.

However, when stopping along the route at resting areas, make sure your pet has a collar and is kept on a leash. An identification tag is essential for non-microchipped pets. Some animals feel stressed when traveling and could, therefore, run away or get lost. It is important to note, that whilst implanted microchips provide permanent ID for pets they cannot be used as a dog tracker. Click To Tweet Thus, a pet tracker can be very helpful during vacations, as they allow you to know where you pet is at all times thanks to GPS tracking.

Many germs, parasites, and diseases may be present in common pet areas.  Therefore, taking the below precautionary health measures can reduce the risk of contagion at parks, beaches and rest areas:

  • Ensure your pet is fully vaccinated;
  • Protect your dog against fleas and ticks;
  • Do not use a communal water dish, bring your own water bowl;
  • Ensure your dog is covered with heartworm-preventing medicine;
  • Pick up after your dog; and
  • Monitor your dog to avoid injuries or problems with other dogs.

Health Insurance & Pet First Aid

Health Insurance

Relaxing is the main goal of any vacation, so being prepared and avoiding unexpected expenses during the trip will certainly contribute to achieving it.

Pet insurance will cover the unexpected costs of emergency care. It gives pet parents the opportunity to customize the coverage and manage health expenses with fixed payments. Pet insurance companies offer different plans with coverage for diverse situations and procedures.

Wether you choose an accident-only plan or a more comprehensive coverage it may be worth to consider buying pet insurance before traveling.

Pet First Aid

When you are traveling and your pet needs urgent health care, it is not as easy to contact or bring your dog to the vet as it is when you are at home. Finding a veterinary emergency service could cost valuable time on the road. You can help your pet in the meantime and your knowledge on how to provide first aid could save your pet’s life.

Our Academy has partnered with different schools and online education providers to offer a broad selection of online courses for pet parents and those interested in starting a business or career in the pet industry. Find the best courses to learn basic Pet First Aid and be able to administer CPR to your pet. Click To Tweet

We present to you three new courses to provide you with effective, simple and practical tools to transform your fears into self-confidence and help your pet live better. They might also be the beginning of a career or an expansion of your business in the pet industry.

1 – Obtain the tools to help your pet in case of an emergency

A Pet First Aid course that every pet owner should take!

Ideal for pet business owners looking to enhance existing services.

dog CPR training.If you love pets and would like to confidently provide care to injuries and illnesses, this is the course for you!

This course will enable you to recognize emergency situations and be prepared to act on any scenario with the perfect first aid kit. ENROLL NOW

2 – Learn The Basics Of Feline First Aid!

Perfect for cat owners or those working with pets.

Cat First Aid diploma and Pet CPR online courseYour love of cats could put you on the fast track to a successful future!

We are proud to offer you opportunities to learn how to be prepared for emergencies with the right first aid kit, deal with wounds and injuries, and perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on your cat. ENROLL NOW

3 – Learn The skills Of A Confident Pet First Aid Responder

Online first aid certification and CPR diploma

Suitable for pet owners looking to expand their knowledge base and for people looking to become a Veterinary Assistant.

A must-do for pet service workers & animal shelters’ staff.

Become a Veterinary Assistant, online diplomaIf a career with horses in an exciting, fast paced and high profile industry sounds appealing, this course is right for you!

Identify emergencies and determine when something can be treated at home. Learn to administer Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) confidently and treat common injuries. ENROLL NOW

Visit our Academy webpage to know more and find hundreds of courses for pet owners as well as those interested in working with animals. Subscribe and get scholarships and special discounts!

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First Aid Kit Checklist

Having a pet first aid kit and being prepared for an emergency can reduce your dog’s pain and discomfort, and maybe save their life. Prepare a list with the contact information of your veterinarian, a poison control hotline’s phone number, the contact information of an animal clinic in the area, and your pet’s insurance policy number and emergency phone line.

  • A water resistant container with an easy to open but secure closure;
  • Scissors and tweezers that could remove thorns and briers;
  • Cohesive bandage. In contrast to the regular adhesive tape, cohesive tape is self-adherent, so it firmly adheres to itself when wrapped, without damaging your pet’s hair or skin. It can hold bandages in place and be used for additional support for tendons and ligaments for sprains or injuries;
  • Sterile pads, cotton gauze, and bandages. Look for those that are individually wrapped packages;
  • Hydrogen peroxide;
  • Antibiotic ointment cream;
  • Pain reliever. Do not use ibuprofen;
  • A blanket, thermometer, and cold pack;
  • Anti-diarrhea and flatulence activated charcoal; and
  • Eye drops and eyewash.

There is no need to leave part of your family behind when traveling! A good plan, a complete first aid kit and and being prepared to help your pet when an emergency arises will be the key to a relaxed pet-friendly vacation and the time of your life!

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