Written by Anne-Marie Hays | Last Updated October 31st, 2019Anne-Marie Hays is a Content Management Intern with Best Company. She enjoys comedy, hates crowds, and loves that you are reading this bio.
As we have previously written about here at BestCompany, switching your dog to a new food can be a messy prospect. So, when you need to travel with your fur baby, what should you do to make sure that your dog and his tummy have a smooth ride?
"Preparation is key to successfully traveling with your dog," advises Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, an advisory board member at Pet Life Today. "Travel is stressful, and stress can lead to poor appetite and gastrointestinal upset. The last thing you want to do under these circumstances is to add a diet change into the mix."
We asked pet experts for advice on how to plan ahead for feeding your dog while traveling away from home. Here’s what they said:
1. Know the travel regulations
"According to TSA, dry or ‘moist’ pet food is allowed in both your carry-on and checked baggage," says Samantha Schwab, Resident Pet Expert at Chewy. "Less than 3.4oz/100 ml of wet pet food is allowed in your carry-on."
She adds this crucial advice for travelers: "No matter how you decide to get your pet’s food, it is always recommended you pack dog food in your carry-on when you travel in case your flight is delayed."
2. Bring a few days’ supply
Dr. Coates advises pet owners to "Always carry enough dog food with you until you are sure you will reach a point where you can purchase more of the same product."
Katie Warner, owner and founder of Lucid Routes Luxury Travel & Lifestyle Collective, explains, "I always recommend to plan in advance and bring at least a few days, if not more, of food to buy you time to find a store that either sells the dog food you use or something similar you can ease your dog into to prevent tummy issues."
3. Contact local pet stores
When it comes to planning, Candy Pilar Godoy, pet travel writer at Boogie the Pug is a believer. She says, "Definitely prepare in advance! You don't want your dog to go hungry. Contact local pet stores in your destination or ask the brand for retailers. You need to plan in advance, especially if your dog has dietary restrictions or health issues."
4. Ship dog food ahead
Becky Beach, pet traveling expert and lifestyle blogger at MomBeach.com shares a story about a recent trip:
"Last month, I took my Pomeranian, Jivaeri, on vacation with my family to West Union, Iowa to visit my in-laws. I used American Airlines to fly and supplied them with a bag of her dog food. I also shipped a bag of her food ahead to my in-laws house several weeks prior. I knew the food would not be available there because it is a very small town. I've taken her by plane about nine times in the past, so I am an experienced pet traveler."
"Preparing in advance is always smart," she continues. "I ship the food ahead to the hotel or residence where I am going to be staying. I've never had any problems doing this. I worry that if I change my dog's food, then she will have tummy issues. This has happened in the past, so I use a sensitive formula of vet-approved dog food not available in all stores."
"Having your pet’s food shipped to your destination is arguably the easiest, most seamless option," says Schwab. "You don’t have to tote the extra weight in your luggage, and you can be confident that your pet’s food will be available. This option is especially useful for pets who are on a prescription diet and need to eat a specific food. However, you should never feed your pet a new food while traveling, prescription or not, in case your pet reacts negatively to the food."
Shipping ahead, adds Warner, "saves you the headache of bringing it on the plane or having to search for a store as soon as you get there."
5. Transition dog food prior to your trip
"You shouldn’t assume that your destination will have your dog’s food," advises Jenny Smith, a frequent traveler and founder of the travel blog MoveToNewZealand.net.
She adds, "For those who are traveling within the United States, they can bring their dog’s food in their checked luggage. However, if you are going to a different country, you may have to leave your dog’s food at home because of import regulations.
If you can’t find your dog’s food near your destination, you may need to switch it temporarily. Don’t wait until you get there to do so. Make the switch at home. Allow your pooch a few weeks to adjust to his new food. This will help you determine whether or not he can tolerate it.
Your dog will be going through a lot of changes when he is traveling. Now is not the time to just up and switch his food."