Travelling with Pets

Whether you are planning to drive your dog to a park or thinking about taking your pet on a holiday with you, there are a few things to consider before setting off with your companion animal.

Motor Vehicle Safety

Vehicle travel presents an inherent risk to animals—as it does to people—and animal owners have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to minimize that risk. Discussions around animal transport usually focus on livestock, but companion animals can be at risk of injury, as well.

In most cases, it is safest for animals to travel in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. They should be in the back part of the vehicle so they won’t distract the driver or be at risk of injury from the dashboard or deploying airbags in the event of a collision. And don’t let a dog ride with its head outside the window—even without a collision, a quick stop could cause head or neck injuries.

If a dog is travelling in the bed of a truck, it is best to be contained within a kennel that is secured in place. If the dog is outside a kennel (only in appropriate weather) it should be wearing a harness with a short tether that keeps it safely away from the sides of the truck bed.

The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association have additional information about safe vehicle travel for companion animals. Alberta’s veterinary community also has a long-standing campaign to educate the public about the dangers of dogs travelling unsecured in the bed of a pickup truck.

Vacationing with Pets

The first thing to think about is whether vacation travel is in the best interest of your pet. If your pet is very young, old, sick or recovering from surgery, staying at home would be the best bet. Before departing, visit your veterinarian to ensure your pet is fit for the trip and ask about precautions you should take before embarking on your journey.

Before You Leave

Have your animal’s collar, license, ID tags with your name and phone number, microchip, immunization records, veterinary phone numbers, required medications, usual pet food, water, dishes and toys.

Travelling by Motor Vehicle

  • Make sure your pet is accustomed to vehicle travel before departing on a long road trip.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a hot vehicle. Your companion animal can suffer irreparable brain damage or possibly death if left alone for just a few minutes. (See Dogs in Hot Cars for more information.)
  • Make sure your vehicle is well ventilated.
  • Make frequent stops and bring plenty of water.

Travelling by Plane

Camping

  • It is very important that your dog will reliably sit, stay, heel and come on command. This training is not only for the safety of your dog, but for your safety as well!
  • Dogs can frighten as well as harm wildlife, so they should be discouraged from barking and should be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Call ahead to campgrounds to ensure that dogs are permitted.
  • Your tent is the safest place for your dog to sleep.

Staying in a Hotel

Many hotels and motels accept pets. When making a reservation, check that their policy allows pets. For a list of pet friendly hotels across North America visit Pets Welcome or Pets Can Stay.