Travelling With Pets: What You Need to Know

The Bone&Bowl Owner Betsy Cooper's pup Archie.

More and more pets are becoming a key part of the family, going where the family goes – including family vacations! But where do we begin when it comes to planning a trip to include a pet? Vancouver’s The Bone&Bowl shop owner Betsy Cooper recently made the trek from Toronto to Vancouver and has gathered all the tips you need to include your furry best friend on your next adventure.

Do Your Research
Travelling with your pet requires a lot of planning. Before you go anywhere, do your research. What sort of paperwork do you need for your pet if you’re crossing a border (up-to-date vet records, etc)? Are there pet-friendly hotels or accommodations along the way? Do you need to make a reservation or can you just walk in? Are there any local dog parks to take your dog to get some exercise while you’re in town? Get online and find these things out before you go anywhere to ensure a smooth ride. Try websites like

Make a List
Just like you do for your own travels, it’s important to make note of everything you need to make your pet’s trip enjoyable. Put together a list of everything you need to bring with you – food, water, medications, bed, toys, etc. – so that you’re not forgetting anything. Being on the road and realizing that you forgot your dog’s food is not going to make this adventure fun for anyone.

Make Him Comfortable
Whether you’re driving or flying, your pet needs to be safe and comfortable for the ride. There are lots of great travel beds/carriers, and it’s important to make sure the one you select is going to do the trick. If using a carrier, make sure there is a lot of ventilation (if you’re on a plane and your pet at your feet, the airflow is quite a bit warmer, so it’s really important that he has good airflow), and that your pet can move around a bit and get comfortable. Again, if you’re travelling on a plane, make sure that it meets the airline requirements. A great carrier that we have found is the SleepyPod Air Pet Carrier.

If travelling in the car, it’s equally important that they’re safe and comfortable. Some sort of barrier/seat protector will not only keep your seats clean,  but will give them a secure area to rest. The Canine Equipment Car Seat Protector,  for example, can be used as a hammock, as a trunk liner and can be split if you have someone else in the back seat.

Ease their Anxiety
Not all pets love to travel. If your dog doesn’t love getting in the car for a short ride, he is probably not going to be the best travel companion for a cross-country tour. But there are lots of things you can do to make it more relaxing. Create an environment that they’re used to – bring their bed and some toys and make it “home” for them. If you know that they’re going to be anxious, there are also a couple of different products you can try — Thundershirts are designed to make your dog feel like they’re being hugged and are safe. Make sure to get it in advance, as it’s very important to have your dog accustomed to it and in a happy state in order for them to embrace them when they’re in a more stressful situation. There are also many different natural anti-anxiety remedies out there that can be added to food or water to just make it that much smoother for everyone.

Because pets are becoming such an important member of many families these days, hotels are becoming more and more open to having your four-legged friends stay in their rooms. It’s always important to check their policies in advance, and it’s recommended that you make a reservation. Some hotels charge a pet fee, so make sure you find that out as well. We have taken Archie to many hotels over the years, and some of them even leave a note, treats, a bed specifically for him and much more to make the stay more enjoyable. We will go back to those spots whenever possible! A few of the big chains that are pet-friendly include:

Starwood Hotels – Westin, W Hotel, Sheraton, ALoft
Holiday Inn
Delta Hotels
Four Seasons
Fairmont Hotels
La Quinta (U.S.)
Best Western

Have Fun!
You’re going on an adventure, so make it fun for everyone. Stop along the way to see the sites, take your dog for a walk and make it exciting for them (and yourself). You’ll all enjoy the trip more, and you will probably see more of the country/region that you’re travelling in by bringing your pet along for the ride. ENJOY!