Photo credit: Katy Nelson

Photo credit: Katy Nelson

You may have finally gotten traveling with babies down pat. Then the babies become toddlers, with a whole new set of travel needs. Of course, older kids and teens also have their unique challenges. And just when you think you are finally nailing this whole family travel thing down, you get a dog.

Sure, you can leave the dog home. But that creates agita, too.

What’s an anxious parent (pet owner) to do?

Speak to the experts.

I chatted with Dr. Katy Nelson, who in addition to a veterinary practice hosts The Pet Show with Dr. Katy, in Washington, D.C. AND she has 2 young children.

Car Travel with Dogs


Photo credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

If you grew up in the 60s or 70s, you probably rode in the way back of the station wagon without a seatbelt. Forget about car seats. Dog travel is much the same way Dr. Katy says she sees people driving with the dogs in the laps, which is dangerous for both the animal and the driver and passengers.

But dogs in the front seat are also in danger. The safest place for a dog is in the back seat, secured with a harness.

If you are crossing state lines with a dog in the car, you need to have the pet’s health certificate. And in cold weather, bring unscented baby wipes to clean a pet’s paws; you don’t want rock salt or anti-freeze to harm the dog’s paws.

Air Travel with Dogs

Dr. Katy is often asked by pet owners to certify that their dog is okay to travel by air. But she has to refuse many dogs, because the stress of air travel can overwhelm many dogs, She noted that air cargo holds are not temperature regulated, so in summer and winter they can be dangerous for dogs.

Of course there are people who falsely claim that their dogs are emotional companion dogs so they can travel in the airplane’s cabin, but you have to be pretty confident that your dog will behave – and be comfortable in a confined space (without bathroom access).


Photo credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

Check out the kennel. Dr. Katy suggests visiting a kennel without an appointment to see the facilities. “If you have to set up a tour, that she raise suspicions,” she said.

One thing to look for is a place where the dog can get plenty of exercise. And “opt for the extra walk or wim,” she advises. You don’t want to dog to just lay around and get stiff joint or gain weight.

Dr. Katy stresses that if you are boarding your dog, be sure to bring his favorite brand of food with him. The stress of being away from home, combined with an unfamiliar food, can upset a dog’s stomach. She is a spokesperson for Freshpet, which makes fresh, grain-free refrigerated pet food from locally sourced meats, poultry and fish combined with fresh vegetables and fruits.

Don’t Forget the Cat

When looking for a cat boarding facility, Dr. Katy advises finding a place with kitty condos. She said to look for a place where the food is not next to the litter box.