Travelling with Pets 101

Travelling with pets 101

Anyone who has a pet will tell you their lives changed the moment they brought them home. From unconditional love to constant cuddles, pets have a way of brightening your day, no matter how you’re feeling. On the flip side, they’re also a lot of work; taking up your time, energy, and potentially cramping your travel plans.

That’s why we spoke with Dorothee Bienzle, Professor and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Guelph, to learn how to safely bring Fido and Fluffy along regardless of whether you’re headed away for the weekend or out of the country.

Road trips:

  • Never leave pets in the car with the windows closed. This is an obvious one that we hear time-and-time again but it’s an important reminder. Even in the winter, sunny days can still cause a car to reach temperatures that could harm your pet.
  • Don’t drive with your dog, cat, or rabbit on your lap or loose in the backseat. Not only are they a distraction while driving, but in the event of a collision they can be thrown out of or around the car, hurting themselves and potentially others. The best option is to keep them in a crate in the back of the vehicle, on a harness, or in a dog hammock in the backseat if you have no additional passengers.
  • Whether you’re headed an hour away or five, always make sure to have extra water and food for your pet. A hangry pet can be just as bad as a hangry human.


  • Unless your pet is under 20lbs (the maximum cabin weight allowance for pets), it’s best to avoid air travel with them all together.
  • Whenever possible, book direct flights. Layovers are stressful for us humans, which means they are ten times more stressful for pets, who don’t know what’s going on.
  • Make sure you have a travel-approved crate that’s ventilated, leak proof and large enough for your pet to stand, sit, and turn around in. Line it with bedding and something to absorb accidents. Most importantly, don’t forget to bring dried food and a water dish with you.


  • Just like humans, always make sure your pet is wearing a life jacket. You never know what the water will be like on any given day. In addition to helping your pet stay afloat, the handles on these jackets can make it easier to grab and lift the animal quickly.
  • Sun is often stronger when you’re out on the water from the reflection, which can cause your pet to overheat faster than when they are in the backyard. Make sure to have extra water and some type of shaded spot for them to rest.

Lastly, whether you’re on a boat, plane, train, or car, your pet may experience waves of motion sickness. If you know your pet is sensitive, limit the amount of time they are required to travel and don’t feed them directly before the trip. Another option is to give them Gravol, which is safe and pet friendly!

Even though you’re going on vacation to relax, your pet’s life is based around a routine, so some structure, especially around feeding and walks is necessary. If you’re looking for an escape from structure and responsibility all together (because even paw-rents need breaks), consider having your pet stay with friends or family (or better yet, have the family or friends pet sit at your house to help maintain routine for the pet even further), putting them at a pet spa, or leaving them at your vet’s for the weekend.

Share your tips for travelling with pets in the comments below!