Traveling during the holiday season can be stressful especially if you bring along your pet. There are several things you can and should do to achieve the best possible outcome when traveling with pets. Planning ahead is absolutely necessary. Both you and your pet will be happier and less stressed.

Dogs can be terrific travel companions however, you need to carefully consider your pup’s travel needs. For road trips, always use a carrier or harness to ensure your dog’s safety. Stop frequently, every two to four hours, for potty breaks. If your dog gets carsick, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions. Never leave your dog in a parked car regardless of weather conditions.

Here’s a travel checklist for a road trip with your dog:

  • Adequate food and water for the entire trip
  • Treats to reward good behavior
  • Dog poop bags
  • A safe leash
  • Blanket or towel
  • Favorite toy
  • A current photo of your dog in case she becomes lost
  • Tag with your current contact information including your cell number
  • Sunscreen for your dog if your destination is a tropical locale

If your travel plans include camping, here is a camping travel checklist:

  • Everything on the car travel checklist above
  • First-aid kit
  • Proof of current vaccinations
  • Extra leash and collar
  • Soap and water for disinfectant should your dog get a cut or wound
  • Towel to keep your dog dry and clean
  • Tweezers for tick removal
  • Dog bed
  • Dog life jacket if going boating

When flying with your dog, call your airline to ascertain their pet travel policies. Each airline is different. You want to understand and meet all of their regulations for pet travel. Determine whether your dog will be traveling with you in the cabin or elsewhere.

In addition to the airline’s policies, make sure you understand the policies regarding pet travel for each airport you will travel through. You will want to determine specifics such as whether your dog can be taken out of his carrier and whether “pet relief” sites are available to allow your dog to go potty and stretch.

Visit your veterinarian before traveling by air to update any necessary vaccinations. Your veterinarian can help you with any requirements for bringing pets into other countries, if you are traveling internationally. Some countries require pets to be quarantined. Find out if this is the case, before your departure. The United States Department of Agriculture maintains an up-to-date list of travel requirements for other countries. Countries can alter restrictions or change their policies at the last minute depending on current health concerns. Be prepared for all contingencies.

Airlines generally offer a checklist for their specific policies on pet travel so check each airline’s website or call an airline representative to discuss. Here’s a broad checklist of items you will need for safe air travel with your dog:

  • Vaccination paperwork
  • ID tags
  • Pet license
  • Approved pet carrier
  • Snacks/treats

If your dog is not riding in the cabin of the airplane with you, bring plenty of water and some food for his kennel. Put a favorite toy or blanket in the carrier with her to help lessen anxiety during the flight.

There is no reason not to take your dog with you when you travel. By doing your research, planning properly, and organizing the items your dog needs to travel safely and comfortably, you will reduce stress for all involved. Simply by planning ahead, everyone will be able to be safe, rest and relax, and enjoy your family’s holiday travel.