The ultimate pet travel checklist

Posted by | December 01, 2017 | Travel, Wellness | No Comments
Photo by: Andrew Pons via

Traveling solo might be a breeze for the avid vacationer but adding a dog into the mix can be problematic if you’re not prepared. Since traveling around the holidays can be more stressful (but it’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?) we put together a list of the essential items, so you and your dog can have smooth and abundant travels!


One of the most frequent mistakes we see is when owners wait until the last minute to book their dog’s holiday staycation. While some travel websites recommend booking your hotel a month before departure, the holidays are a definite exception to this standard. Fitdog is usually completely booked a month before Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we recommend booking about six weeks in advance, or as soon as you know you’ll be traveling. Thinking about holiday travel plans at the beginning of October might seem excessive, but it is much less stressful than frantically booking your dog’s boarding last minute.

Vaccines &  Health Records

Here is the standard list of vaccines required by nearly every dog boarding facility, pet sitter, and veterinarian:

  • DHPP
  • Bordetella
  • Rabies
  • Spay/neuter verification (typically for dogs 6 months and older)
  • Flea Medication

Additionally, most boarding facilities require that dogs are at least four months old and have received their final rounds of adult vaccinations. It is also common for facilities to require that dogs are neutered or spayed by six months of age, for obvious reasons.

If you’re considering leaving your dog with a pet sitter, be aware of the pros and cons of this sort of arrangement. Things to take into consideration are your pet’s age, their level of sociability, and their overall personality. If you have a young, energetic pup, they will probably have a blast romping around with their friends at an off-leash boarding facility. Senior pets will most likely appreciate a quiet, calm space, or being left at home with a pet sitter. Ultimately, you should go with an arrangement where your dog will get the care and attention he needs.


If you’ll be traveling long-distance, there are a few simple things you can do to make the ride as smooth as possible for you and your fur baby. For instance, your dog is much less likely to get car sick if they are traveling on an empty stomach. However, it’s important that they have plenty of water and take plenty of breaks along the way so both of you can potty and stretch your legs.

Creating a cozy, nuzzled place for them to lay down in your car can help ease travel anxiety. If time allows, it would be beneficial to exercise your dog before the trip so they’re more tired during the ride, which can make for a more peaceful transportation for everyone.

If you’re taking the train to grandma’s house, Amtrak has a complete guide on pet allowances and prohibitions.

Check out this website for specific airline pet travel policies. You will likely need an airline-approved pet carrier.

What to bring

The most important thing to have on you is your pet registration and vaccination recordsDo not wait until the last minute to get these records from your vet, because they are not guaranteed to pick up your call!

In order to make your dog’s stay as comfortable as possible, we recommend a few essential items:

  • Food & treats. Let’s just say traveling can add stress to a dog’s bowel movements, so regulating their diet as much as possible is your best bet. If your dog is staying overnight at a boarding facility or pet sitter, make sure to give them specific feeding instructions. It is also in your interest to find out if you will need to provide your own bowls. If you’re traveling and bringing bowls, you can get collapsible travel bowls for their food and water.
  • Bedding. If your dog has their own little bed, bring it along. The familiar scent can be very comforting in new environments. Packing a t-shirt of yours, or something else that contains the smell of your house, is also recommended.
  • Leash, collar, ID tag. Sounds obvious, but if you’re used to having your dog off-leash, this can fall by the wayside. A sturdy leash and collar are necessary for traveling to keep your buddy close by your side. An ID tag becomes very important if your dog is separated from you.

Always remember that as a pet owner, don’t forget your doggy manners. Remember to be courteous to others while you’re traveling with your pup– all it takes is one bad cookie to ruin animal allowances in hotels and resorts. Plan your travels well in advance and have your records ready at hand. Remember, traveling doesn’t have to be so ruff if you’re well prepared!


Featured photo by Andrew Pons via