Dog Travel Stress and Anxiety

Traveling with your pup can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be difficult! 

Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, or even train, it’s important to keep your dog’s happiness and health in mind.  Some dogs can become scared and over-anxious.  Some dogs may even benefit greatly from supplements during these stressful times. 

No matter how you travel, make sure you have a few things with you:

  1. Tags on your dog with your contact information
  2. Emergency supplies kit with extra food, water, and documentation
  3. Treats, toys, and more to make your pup comfortable 
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure your dog is comfortable with being inside a crate or carrier.  If you’ve noticed your dog becoming anxious during travel in the past, their crate can be a huge sense of comfort.  Make sure your pup is comfortable inside their crate to make traveling easier for them. 

via GIPHY

 

Traveling by plane?

Sometimes, we have no choice but to fly with our pups.  If you’re in this position, the amount of information out there for flying with your dog can be overwhelming.  

Airplane travel can be stressful on your pet, and some would even consider it dangerous for them.  This is especially true for animals with “pushed in faces,” like pugs and bulldogs.  Make sure to check in with your vet before you do fly with your pup. 

If you are flying, call or visit your specific airline’s website to know exactly what is needed in order for you to travel with your dog.

Some airlines require:

  • Notification of your dog flying with you when you book your ticket 
  • Health and immunization documents
  • Specific crates or carriers
  • Dropping off your pet at a specific area for cargo travel

Traveling by plan can make things difficult for your pup’s stomach, so you may want to restrict food 12-24 hours before your flight.  This’ll keep bathroom breaks to a minimum too.  

Your pup will most likely have to be inside a carrier or crate for a relatively long amount of time; make sure your furry friend has become comfortable when inside the crate.  If you need some extra crate tips, click here to see what we recommend! 

In-cabin travel

Most airlines will allow you to bring a small animal in the cabin.  By far, having your pup with you in the cabin can make things a lot easier; cabins are more regulated than cargo spaces, making their temperature and oxygen levels more even and comfortable.  

Airlines typically have a limited number of animals they will allow in the cabin per flight.  When making your original reservation, make sure to notify the airline you plan on taking your dog with you.  

Your pup will have to go through security checkpoints with you.  Oftentimes you’re able to take your pup out of their carrier and walk with them through a detector; for this, make sure you have a way of safely securing your pup during this process.  The carrier will typically need to go through an x-ray machine, just like carry-on bags.

Many airlines will prohibit you from taking out your dog during flights, so make sure your pup’s carrier is nice and comfortable.  Consider toys or blankets that calm your pup.  To further calm your dog, consider an anti-anxiety supplement, though make sure to obtain approval from your vet. 

Cargo travel

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) outright discourages traveling with larger dogs that are required to travel in cargo.  That may seem extreme, but sadly, dog deaths while traveling in cargo are not incredibly rare.  

If you must have your dog travel by cargo, consider marking the crate with a “Live Animal” sign and attach a small amount of food to the side of the crate in case an airline employee needs to feed your pup in an emergency. 

You may want to keep your contact information written or taped onto the crate in case it is needed.  While a pup should always be comfortable in their crate during travel, this is especially true when it comes to traveling in cargo.  Sedation is typically not recommended, but your vet may approve a supplement to keep anxiety down.  

Here’s a quick run-down of a few policies in place with some of the United State’s most used airlines: 


American Airlines

Delta

 Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Spirit 

Airlines

United 

Airlines

Has size restrictions


x


x


x


x


x

Require health certifications


x


x


x

Limits amount of pets in cabin


x


x


x*


x*


x

Only allows 1 pet carrier per person


x


x


x


x


x

Has temperature restrictions


x


x

Experiencing suspensions/changes of pet policies due to travel restrictions



x



x



x


*Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines do not allow for pets to travel in cargo. 

Please note this information can change at any time, and this is not a comprehensive list of policies and regulations.  You can click on the names of the airlines above to read the airline’s policies. 

Many airlines have specific policies towards Service Animals that overrule typical pet policies.  If your dog is a Service Animal, make sure to check your airline’s specific rules.  

International travel

Countries can have their own regulations that differ from others.  Some will require your pet to go through a quarantine when arriving, extra paperwork, or specific vaccines.  To find out more information specific to the country you’re traveling to, you can find out more through the US Department of Agriculture

The Humane Society of the United States, along with others, urge anyone flying with dogs to be careful.  

“Consider all the alternatives to flying. If you plan to bring your pet on vacation, driving is usually a better option. If you can't travel by car, your pet will probably be healthier and happier if you leave them behind under the care of a pet sitter or boarding kennel. But there are times when that won’t be possible and you’ll have to determine whether the benefits of flying outweigh the risks.”

-- The Humane Society

 

That may seem tough, but it is vital to make sure your pup is able to travel before booking that fun getaway with them.  Checking in with your vet before any kind of travel, whether you're flying or otherwise, is always a good idea! 

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Traveling by car?

Many recommend car travel over traveling by airplane for dogs.  If you can drive to your destination, it may be a safer and easier trip for your pup.  Temperature and pressure changes are much more under your control, and you are also able to control when to stop for food, water, and bathroom breaks.  

Crating during road trips

While it may be tempting to not crate your pup during car travel, it is recommended to keep dogs within enclosures while driving.  Not only can it keep them safe during an accident or from distracting you, but it can also provide a sense of comfort for your dog during what could be a stressful time.  If carriers or crates are not your dog’s favorite, consider an in-car leash instead.

Avoiding car anxiety

You may have noticed your pup is not a big fan of traveling by car.  If that’s the case, keep in mind your dog may be suffering from motion sickness while traveling.  Try restricting food about 4 hours before getting into the car, and make sure there’s some ventilation for your dog.  

Your furry friend may also have some negative associations with car rides.  You can break these associations by creating new memories; food and play can be particularly helpful in these situations.  Use treats and mealtimes to your advantage by feeding your pup in the car, and maybe drive over to a park if you typically only take your pup on car trips to the vet! 

Getting used to the car 

It’s always a good idea to slowly but surely introduce a new environment to your dog.  If your dog dislikes your car or hasn’t spent much time inside, there are ways to get them more comfortable.  

For more tips on car travel, click here to check out our recommendations!  

Traveling by train?

Trains can be an excellent way to travel.  If you are going by train, make sure to check for any specific regulations when booking your travel. Amtrak in particular has a few policies that mirror those typically found on airlines.  


Restrictions still apply

Size restrictions usually apply, and some companies will not allow for pets to be checked in as cargo.  Often they will also require pets to be inside carriers that fit under a seat.  Larger dogs may not be able to ride; make sure to confirm any size or weight restrictions for your specific trip.  


Make things comfortable

Whether you’re flying, driving, or riding on a train, sometimes it’s best or even necessary to take your furry pal with you.  Consider a vet visit to ensure your pup is ready for travel, and keep in mind ways to make your dog more comfortable like making their crate a den-like space or providing supplements to ease stress.  

Resources:

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/travel-safely-your-pet-car-airplane-ship-or-train#:~:text=Most%20airlines%20will%20allow%20you,they%20meet%20the%20size%20requirements


https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/travel-safety-tips 


https://www.rover.com/blog/flying-with-a-dog-should-take-dog-plane/ 


https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/special-assistance/pets.jsp 


https://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/traveling-with-animals/pets/index-pol.html


https://customersupport.spirit.com/en-us/category/article/KA-01181 


https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/animals/in-cabin.html


https://www.amtrak.com/pets