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Whether you’re traveling with a dog by car or plane this holiday season, you should consider a few things before making the journey. You want your dog to feel comfortable, calm and at ease when you reach your destination, which means more than packing extra food and treats.
I recently traveled with my 6-month-old toy poodle by plane and learned a few things. For one, when I got to the airport for my return flight, my airline rejected my dog carrier and wouldn’t let my dog fly home with me until I got a new one.
Each airline outlines its carrier requirements for pets flying in the cabin, but most say that it should be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, ventilated on at least three sides and big enough that your dog can comfortably stand up and turn around inside. Some airlines will even ask your dog to demonstrate this to fly, and that’s where we failed.
Luckily, I could purchase a larger carrier at the airport, but traveling in a new one threw my dog off. To help put him at ease, I had his favorite toy and a new chew to keep him distracted. However, I wish I had known about the “stand up and turn around” rule ahead of time. (FYI, you can call your airline to hear its specific rules or find them online.)
Based on my experience, here are seven things you should have if you’re traveling with a dog this holiday season, so you can keep your pet happy and healthy no matter where you go.
1. Roverlund Out of Office Pet Carrier, $149
If you’re traveling by car, a carrier or a dog car seat is a good idea for keeping your pet safe. However, if you’re flying, an airline-compliant pet carrier is essential. Roverlund makes two sizes of its Out-of-Office Pet Carrier so that you can find the right one for you. Plus, it comes in several colors and designs. The soft fleece bottom is waterproof and washable, and the shoulder strap doubles as a leash.
2. Native Pet Yak Chews, $14.99
Talk to your vet about calming supplements if you’re worried about your pet’s stress levels during travel. However, these Native Pet Yak Chews are a favorite of my dog’s for keeping him busy and distracted. They’re a high-protein, hard cheese chew made with yak milk. Unlike a bully stick, they don’t stink, splinter, or cause a mess and are easily digestible. My dog is a small, 10-pound poodle, and it takes him weeks to finish a medium-sized one.
My dog gets more treats when we travel (and more table scraps when visiting family). To help keep his digestion in check, my vet recommended this Purina Pro Plan probiotic. You can get a powder to mix into your dog’s food or choose the chewable option. My dog thinks the chewable is a treat and eats it right up.
Native Pet also sells an all-natural Probiotic Powder you can mix with their food that costs half the price and a Pumpkin Powder that my picky eater doesn’t seem to mind when his stomach is out of whack.
4. PETKIT Water Bottle, $12.99
Your dog is going to need water. This water bottle can hold up to 14 ounces and has a built-in bowl. Simply press the button to fill the bowl with water and let your pet drink from it. If you’re traveling by plane, you can fill it with water at the airport after security. I especially like that it’s all one piece, so it’s easier to carry and keep track of. Plus, it’s easy to slide into your dog’s carrier mid-trip.
5. Adaptil Travel Calming Spray for Dogs, $24.99 (Orig. $29.99)
My dog can get a little anxious in new situations, so my vet recommended this non-drug solution, Adaptil Spray. The spray’s smell mimics the natural pheromones a mother dog emits to keep her puppies calm. (It doesn’t smell like anything to humans.) In turn, this spray can help your dog feel more at ease. While I don’t think it’s a total miracle worker — and it’s not going to knock your dog out or anything — it seems to help my dog feel calmer and realize that it’s time to lay down or go to sleep.
6. Wild One Tennis Tumble, $20
I usually put a small plush toy along with a Native Pet Yak Chew in my dog’s carrier while traveling. Once we get to our destination, I have a couple of his favorite toys and usually give him a new one to keep things exciting. I recently gave my dog this Wild One Tennis Tumble toy, which keeps him busy on his own for a while. Essentially, it’s like a puzzle: It’s a tennis ball stuck in an ultra-durable barrel. He has yet to get the tennis ball out, but it is possible.
7. Cool Pup Cooling Pet Towel, $7.99
It’s hard to know what the temperature will be on a plane, let alone in your dog’s carrier under the seat. If your dog seems too hot, give them ice cubes or offer this cooling towel to cuddle up to in their carrier. Wet it with cool water, ring it out and lay it over or under your pup. It’s also great to use if you’re traveling to a hot destination and want to keep your pup cool.
If you liked this article, check out these eight gifts for the person who is totally obsessed with their dog.
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