On Holiday With Your Dog: a Checklist

If your family holiday doesn’t feel complete without your dog, you may consider bringing your dog along with you.

If your dog is not a seasoned traveler, there are many things to take into consideration before packing his bags, from getting your dog accustomed to the car to making sure  your dog’s vaccinations and passport are up to date, to precautions to take in case your dog gets lost.

You will learn everything you need to know in the article below on how to enjoy a carefree holiday with your dog.

Should You Take Your Dog on Holiday?

The first thing you need to consider when taking your dog on holiday is whether or not your  dog is equipped to join you on your journey. You will need to assess whether or not coming on holiday with you will be beneficial to both you and your dog. Taking a dog on holiday can be a great memory; it can also, however, become a disaster if you (or your dog) are unprepared. Consider the following when thinking of bringing your dog on holiday:

Your Dog’s Health and Age: Is He Able to Make The Journey?

An older dog, or a dog in poor health may not be equipped to join you on holiday. If your dog is feeling the affects of old age, such as back or joint problems, he may not be able to handle riding in a car for long stretches of time, much less a plane. The same goes for a dog in poor health; if your dog is healing from surgery, is suffering from a disease or condition that may be worsened by travel and too much stimulus, it is best to leave your dog at home.

In addition, you should not bring any dog on holiday if it has a contagious condition, such as mites, tapeworms, ringworm, fleas, a virus, or heartworm. As much as you may want your dog with you, you must consider your dog’s condition before taking him along. Regardless of vaccination status, you cannot take dogs younger than four months on an airline.You will also need to check local laws to see if dog is legally allowed to travel over the border with you at all.

Behavior: Can Your Dog Handle Traveling?

Some dogs are naturally well-suited to traveling, and love to go with you on a road trip or even by plane. However, other dogs get carsick, or they have anxiety or other issues that make it difficult for them to travel.

What are you planning to do on holiday?

Consider the activities are planning. If you are going to be spending a lot of time in museums, think about whether or not your dog will be uncomfortable or bored. If you are planning on camping and visiting a beach, these are much more dog friendly activities.

Which country you are travelling?

Take into account where you are travelling. If it’s too hot or too cold, or if the local culture isn’t very dog friendly, it might be best to leave your dog at home.

Taking Your Dog on Holiday: How to Prepare

If you’ve decided you and your dog are up for the challenge of traveling together, there are several ways you can prepare for the journey.

Take Your Dog on a Trial Run

Especially if you are driving, you should take your dog on a trial run. Make sure they are used to and comfortable with their crate. If you are driving in a car, take them for some drives to see if they get carsick; you may need to get some medication for nausea before your big trip.

If your dog has not travelled yet, first try a weekend away and see how it goes.

Do Your Research

Going on holiday with your dog requires a lot of preparation. Here is a checklist of things you should have done before traveling with your pet. You may need to add things that pertain to your specific situation.


  • Go to the vet – make an appointment with your local veterinarian well in advance of your trip. You will want to make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations (especially rabies!)and depending on the country you are going to, you may need to treat your dog for tapeworms between 24 and 120 hours before your departure

  • Get your dog passport, if needed – Pet passports are essential to avoiding a stressful quarantine period. Pet Travel Schemes, or PETS, is the pet passport program that was developed in the United Kingdom, but is now used in countries all over the world, including the United States and many European countries, as well as Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, many nations in the Caribbean, and New Zealand. Research veterinarians before making your appointment, as only certain veterinarians can issue pet passports. If you are in America and are planning on traveling abroad, you need to find a veterinarian certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Pet passports include information documenting ownership, the appearance of your dog, microchip information, proof of rabies vaccination, a rabies blood test, and tapeworm treatment.
  • If you don’t have a pet passport – Most countries still require a veterinary certificate from the dog’s country of origin. Make sure you know the laws ahead of time; some places require dogs to be quarantined for a length of time.
  • Check local laws and regulations – laws and regulations vary not only from country to country, but also state to state or province to province. Make sure that you are aware of any local laws at your holiday location.Check, for instance, if a muzzle is necessary.
  • Obtain Travellers Insurance –  Make sure you are covered if your dog causes and accident or injury.
  • If travelling by airplane – which airline are you flying with? What are the regulations? How does pet transportation work within that airline?


Note: The transportation of animals is regulated internationally by the general safety regulations of the International Air Transport Association, the Live Animals Regulations and the Animal Welfare Act. These regulations dictate, among other things, the situation of the luggage compartment (air pressure, temperature, other cargo, etc.) and the method of loading and unloading your dog on departure and arrival, so that this will not be harmful or unhealthy for your dog.

Finding Accommodations

Before you go on holiday, make sure that the place you are headed is dog friendly. In many hotels that allow dogs, you are not allowed to leave dogs unattended in the room, or you may be allowed if they are in a crate. If you have plans that require you to leave your furry friend alone, be sure to arrange pet sitting ahead of time.

What Does My Dog Need on Holiday?

When you’re packing for your holiday trip, don’t forget a special bag for your dog! Here are some things you will want to make sure you bring:

  • Dog food, food & water bowl – sudden changes to a dog’s diet can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. It is not guaranteed your destination will have the food your dog is used to (especially if you are going to a different country), so be sure to pack enough food for the entire trip.
  • Familiar bedding – if your dog has a special bed or blankets they normally sleep on, bring them on the trip. Familiar scents and things from home can help ease your dog’s anxiety.
  • Favorite toys – dogs are similar to children in that they are comforted by their favorite toys from home when on a long trip.
  • Treats – you are going on holiday, after all! Humans shouldn’t be the only ones indulging. Pick up some treats for your furry friend.
  • Collar with tags – even though your pet passport will have your dog’s microchip information, it can only be read by a veterinarian or shelter with a scanner. If the worst should happen and your dog gets outside or runs away, you want to make sure their collar has tags with your phone number and temporary information on it, such as your hotel address. Bring a photo of your dog with you.If he gets lost, finding him will be a lot easier if you have a clear photo to share.
  • Poop bags – nothing is more embarrassing than walking your dog, having them do their business, and then being stuck with no way to clean it up. Besides enduring judgemental looks, you may land yourself a ticket or fine. Dog poop bags are cheap and don’t take up much room in your luggage.
  • Medication – if your pet is already on certain medication, make sure that you bring enough for the trip, and some extra in case your return is delayed.
  • Research local veterinarians – Have this information in advance of your trip so that  you will have this on hand in case of emergency
  • Sunscreen –  animals with a white or very thin coat will benefit from the application of dog-friendly sunscreen. They can burn, too!
  • First Aid Bag – pack a first aid bag for your dog in case he gets injured. Gauze, antiseptic, and small scissors are a good place to start. Speak with your veterinarian and see what he recommends to pack in your first aid kit. You may need extra supplies depending on the climate you visit!

Making Your Holiday With Your Dog Successful

How both you and your dog behave on holiday will make a big difference. By being respectful of your accommodations, you can rest assured that you and your dog will have a relaxing holiday, and the hotel at which you are staying welcomes you back (and doesn’t charge you any extra fees for damages!)

Dog Etiquette in Accommodations: How to Behave and How to Prepare

Although each place you stay will have its own set of rules, there are some basic guidelines that any dog owner should follow when on holiday:

  • Call where you are staying – because every place will have its own set of rules and regulations, it is important to call ahead of time and write them down. If you are staying at a hotel, the concierge will also be able to fill you in on the local laws, customs, and etiquette in the area you will be staying.
  • Keep your dog on a leash – unless you are in a designated off-leash area, keep your dog on a leash. Not just a safety concern, letting your dog roam off leash is illegal in some areas.
  • Cleaning up after your pet – again, it’s not just impolite to leave your dog’s droppings behind, it also might be illegal. Make sure your poop bags are packed!
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended – although in some places it’s common to leave your dog tied up outside, you should never leave your dog unattended on holiday. Make sure if they are crates in the room it is allowed, and find doggy daycares and pet sitters ahead of time in case they are needed.
  • Train your dog in advance – Get your dog used to being alone in his crate and being calm in public spaces. The more well-mannered your dog is, the more likely that people will not be bothered if he is in public places.

What Happens if Your Dog Gets Lost on Holiday?

Although it is a nightmare of a situation for any dog owner, sometimes dogs do get lost on holiday. Here are some steps to take if your dog wanders off on his own:

  • If you are staying at a hotel, first contact the concierge. They will be able to compile a list of animal shelters and places to contact, will know of any local areas a dog might be inclined to go (such as parks or markets that smell of food), and can help with any necessary translations.
  • If you are visiting family or friends, there may be social media pages or apps they have access to that can notify the neighborhood so they can be on the lookout for your missing dog.
  • Start searching the area immediately. Check places you visited with your dog previously, and if your dog is missing for more than an hour, put up fliers so that people can contact you if they are spotted.
  • The local tourist office will also be able to provide you a list of places that found dogs are taken. You may then call these authorities, or ask if the tourist office will do it for you.
  • Contact local police and ask if there is any specific action you need to take as a tourist with a lost animal.
  • Contact local veterinarians. If your dog has been injured, chances are someone will have alerted a veterinarian’s office.

A holiday with your dog can be a memorable and enjoyable time and making sure that both you and your dog are prepared will make all the difference. Happy traveling!

If Your Dog Can’t Travel

If you have a dog who just cannot, or should not, travel with you, be sure to do proper research on the pet sitter or boarding kennel where you leave your dog. Being apart from you might upset your dog. Finding a comfortable, safe place for him to be while you are gone will help dissuade some of his anxiety. Here are some tips for leaving your dog with a pet sitter or boarding kennel while you are away:

Be sure to pack his food – some kennels will provide their own food, but a switch in food may upset your already anxious dog. Make sure your dog has enough food, plus a little extra, in case you are delayed in your return.

Put together an emergency kit –   Provide your sitter or boarding kennel with emergency contact information, photos of your dog, and keep your dog’s tags updated in case the worst happens and your dog gets loose while you are away.

Pack something comforting – Your dog’s favorite toy, bed, and something that smells like you will help to keep your dog calm and comfortable while he’s away at boarding.

Book a trial stay – if you are going to be gone for more than a few days, it is a good idea to book a short term stay with your pet sitter or boarding kennel. This way, when you leave for an extended period of time, he will be familiar with his surroundings, which will help ease any anxiety he might be having