There are eight things you need to do when traveling with your dogs by plane to provide a safe and happy travel adventure for both you and your dog.
1. Vet Visit
Leave it to the pro to tell you what shots the dog needs and when. To Google is fine but I can assure you there's nothing more irritating than someone who thinks who “studied” on Google, 2 days instead of 5 years, and now he thinks he knows everything and tries to explain to a professional what to do.
“You need X and Y!”
“Oh,… but on the Internet, it says I need: A, B, W, and Y!?”
“No. You only need X and Y! W is not used anymore and B is for a completely another case.”
“But, on the Internet they say…”
“Forget about the Internet, OK? Not everyone who writes about something really studied about it and also the laws change, etc, OK? So I will give you the X and Y.”
“Hmmm, … are YOU sure…? Because they say…”
Yes, he is sure.
Please, don't be that person! Don't be a cyber specialist! Do inform yourself, but don't try to know better than a pro. He studied for it, let him do his job, let him do what you're paying him to do! Or do you expect you'll pay less just because of “explaining him” what you learned on the Internet or what your aunty Cathy told you because she is a vet assistant? Lol, no hon, you won't get any discount for your “knowledge”, you'll just get some eye-rolling behind you're back, so don't go there.
So, go to the vet, explain to him where and when you'll be traveling (if the dog is older, you give him the dog's documentation) and that's it!
The vet will give the dog all the necessary shots and vaccinations, the microchip, he will give you the dogs “passport” right away (with the little stickers of all the vaccinations given), he will tell you when to come back to repeat the shott and he will also tell you if you need some certificate administered within a specified date range before traveling.
I have to tell you that in all my life, they never asked me for that certificate, the passport was always enough, but why not having everything anyone could possibly ask for. It's just a piece of paper, stick it in the dog's passport.
Now, about the passport… Many people don't plan to travel with their dog, they don't ask for the passport, so the vet gives them some booklet with all the vaccinations. Suddenly, you decide to travel and the booklet doesn't serve, you have to buy a passport. Why not having it from the first day, that's how all the dog's vaccination will be in the same place? That way, there is no requirement for quarantine, at least while traveling around the EU and even the USA.
Gucci has never been to the USA, but his brother Pucci is a frequent flyer to Miami and everything he needs is a passport, no quarantine at all.
I'm so sorry for all the complications with the United Kingdom and the Republic of Irland… for me, they are just too difficult to travel with a pet, we simply don't go there. Complicated, expensive, … not impossible. I just don't think it's worth it for 2 weeks vacation. Many beautiful countries are calling our names and welcoming us with their open arms.
2. Bring with you something your pet loves (a toy, a blanket,…)
When I was traveling for work and Gucci was still a baby, I used to hide the toys he was playing with the last week and take out a few toys that were hidden for a while, so he forgot about them. He was enthusiastic about finding again “his old friends" so he would play for hours while staying alone.
You can read about my well-behaved baby doggy while I'm at work, here.
Now that we travel for pleasure and he doesn't have to stay alone or at least not for long, I just bring one toy which I frow on the floor as soon as we come to a place we stay in. That way he understands that room is our home at the moment. When there's a toy on the floor, it a signal he may do whatever he wants. In a public place, he may not.
I wish more humans would know the difference as my dogs do.
3. Food & Water Bowls
When you travel by plane, everything is too heavy, so my only goal is to be practical.
What I bring, even in the cabin, is a small plastic container with lid (!) so I can always give the dog some water and then close it with the lid and it doesn't make everything inside of the bag wet.
Now, that we travel together, with two dogs, we put the food in a big plastic container and they eat directly out of it. Since they always eat as much as they want, they never fight for food. Sometimes they eat at the same time, sometimes they don't, as I said, we don't overcomplicate the feeding process. It's spontaneous, they eat when they want and we don't pay much attention to it. If we travel for more then 2 weeks, then we put some more food in a plastic bag and add it to the plastic container when needed. Read abot how I feed my dog and why he can eat whenever he wants, here.
4. Dog Bag
This is the most important accessory for your traveling with dog life.
The dog has to be used to it and he has to love it even before the flight and you will not have a hysterical, stressed dog whining and barking, trying to get out and you will not need any sedating tablets!
You'll have a happy dog calmly sleeping in his bag with his toy, knowing he is in the safest place in the world, near you. Read about how to teach him to love his bag here.
The right bag is a science and I dedicate much more time to choosing the perfect bag, depending on the type of the traveling we're going to, then unnecessary thinking about how many grams of food should a dog eat a day.
Will I have to hide him at some point?
Will there be a lot of walking around the city with many people around who could step on him?
Are we going to hike and I would need my hands free?…
Read here about how I taught Gucci to adore his bags and how I chose a perfect bag.
5. Make the dog(s) tired
Read my instructions for the day before and the same day of the travel. You can find them here.
I assure you, your dog will not be restless and nervous, he'll be happy you left him alone and finally stopped throwing the damned ball.
6. Dog First Aid Kit
It's a prolongation of my own first aid kit (I'm a Pharmacist, so I always bring many drugs with me, more then we ever use. I panic I won't be able to get everything I could need without prescription. My international patients tell me they need a prescription for the most ridiculous things. It seems that in most of the European countries all you can buy over the counteris the 500 mg paracetamol and the vitamin C).
So, apart from the human stuff like antibiotics, prednisolone (antihistamines don't work on dogs), analgesics, tablets for diarrea and vomiting, I always bring: antibiotic cream, antibiotic-cortisone drops for the eyes (Gucci is a Maltese, anything could cause infections and irritations of his eyes). Remember you can always use the eye drops for the ear, but you should never use the ear drops for the eyes.
Cotton balls, gauze, tape, and Hydrogen Peroxide: I don't bring any other disinfection remedy, I use only this for any kind of cuts because you can also use it to provoke a dog to vomit, in case he eats something toxic.
I know the correct human dosage for everything but I never, NEVER (!) gave anything to a dog, without consulting a vet first! Don't play around with estimating the doses by yourself!
First of all, you need to know if a certain medication works on dogs or it’s completely useless or even toxic.
Second, the dosage could be the same as for a child, but I could be also identical to one an adult would take.
I always contact my vet at home and tell him what I have with me and how strong and ask him if I could give it to the dog and how much. ALWAYS.
7. Book the flight ahead of time
Read my description of how to book the flight when traveling with a dog. Find it here.
8. The Hotels
If we spend more nights in a hotel, we try to find a pet-friendly hotel. If it's only for a night and then we're moving to another hotel and then to another or if there's no way to find a room in a pet-friendly place, then we sneak our dogs in.
Do I feel guilty because of doing it? No. My dogs are cleaner than many people I know. They also molt less than many people, especially less than many cleaning ladies who leave their hair in my bathtub and every time almost provoke me to vomit.
They also break lees stuff (read: zero) then many people that were using that room before and they definitely make less noise than the neighbors from the next room…
So, no, zero bad conscience.
If you were intelligent, you would let me bring the dog in and you would charge me for it. You're not? You won't get my money. I'll still get what I want.
To be able to do that, to sneak the dog in, you have to teach your dog how to behave while you're still at home! You can't expect the dog to act differently than he does at home only because you're in a hotel room! You have to teach him not to bark whenever he hears some noise outside, not to eat the furniture, not to pee around…