Packing Tips


Also see: Dog Packing List

  • Your dog should have identification secured on its collar. This should include a phone number you can be reached while away from home. If you take a cell phone with you, that should be the number on the ID, and perhaps your e-mail address as well. Your home phone number won’t do any good on the ID tag if no one is there to answer the phone! QR code tags are another good option; they allow you to upload (and easily change) numerous phone numbers so you can leave a number of a trusted friend/family member at home as well as your cell phone, hotel number, etc.
  • Traveling involves stress for humans, but also for dogs. It is a good idea to bring along familiar items from home, the dog’s bed, or a blanket he likes to lie on, toys, treats—anything that makes the experience seem more like being at home can reduce the level of anxiety for your dog.
  • It’s easy to forget things during the rush to get ready to leave. Make a list of absolute necessities for your dog: their food, their food and water bowls, and any vitamins or medications they are supposed to have. Check the items off the list before you leave the house.
  • Consider portioning out your dog’s food into plastic bags for each day, so you do not have to bring along a large bag of dog food. Be sure to bring a little more than you think you will need; if you are planning an active trip like hiking your dog will eat a bit more than his usual amount. Bringing his own food is important because an abrupt change in diet can cause stomach problems as well.
  • Bring bottled water from home so you don’t have to rely on local tap water that may cause stomach upset.
  • A handy little device to take, available at most pet stores, is a plastic water bottle with a handle that flips open to make a convenient drinking tray. You can clip the bottle to your belt so you have a ready water supply for your dog wherever you go.
  • You need a secure way to carry your dog in the car: a secured pet carrier or a harness system that fits into your seat belt. It is not safe to have your dog travel in your lap, either, no matter how cute and cuddly he may be.
  • For your own safety and comfort, you should pack a first aid kit. Cuts, scrapes, a thorn in the paw—all these things happen on trips. Tweezers, gauze bandages, hydrogen peroxide or antibiotic ointment, and saline solution  are all good items to bring along.
  • Towels and doggy shampoo are other good items to take, as well as the dog’s brush or comb. Part of the fun for the traveling dog is finding creative ways to get dirty.
  • Since even on a well-planned trip, poop happens, bring along plastic bags to pick up waste, disinfectant, trash bags, carpet cleaning solution, and paper towels. Remember to wipe off your dog’s paws before he tracks mud onto the hotel’s carpet.
  • Because dogs love to make themselves at home and jump on the furniture, bring several sheets from home to cover the bed and chairs in the hotel room.
  • Pack the car with your dog’s comfort in mind.  Make sure he has room to move around, that the surface he is sitting on is comfortable and will not get too warm, and that he can see you. You need to see him, too, in order to monitor whether he is getting too warm, whether he needs a drink of water, or may need a “rest stop.” Hopefully, if you have taken him on shorter trips before, he will have a favorite place in the car to sit, and relax and take a nap while you are driving.
  • Having your dog vaccinated for rabies is of course a requirement for travel abroad, and for returning to the US. Airline regulations require this as well. You should inquire about what other vaccinations you may need. Ask your vet, the airline and research the requirements for the country you are visiting. This can also apply to trips across state lines.
  • No matter where you are going, bring along your dog’s vaccination records and records from check-ups at the vet that show any medical treatments your dog may have had recently, or medications he may be taking.
  • A flashlight is a must to pack, too. Even if you aren’t staying out in the wilderness, you may need to light your path on the last walk you take your dog on before bed.