Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Caring for Your Guide Dog or Service Animal Abroad

German sheppard service dog takes a break and looks intently at its owner
German sheppard service dog takes a break and looks intently at its owner

Learn tips for supplies to take along, climate preparations, and animal health while traveling internationally.

What will I need to take with me?

Food and Supplements

Figure out what you can bring along with you and order the remaining food and supplies.

  • Make sure that the food is manufacture-sealed in its package. Ask your pet food supply store for sample packs for air travel.
  • For short trips or animals with food or other allergies, carry what you will need (i.e. food, medication, shampoos) to travel.
  • For longer trips, order food and supplies online or direct from the manufacturer and have it shipped to your destination. Many countries also have pet stores locally too.
  • Keep medication in original prescription bottles, sealed, and with a note explaining what the drug is and its purpose.


Consider the climate from which you are coming since the animal will have their winter or summer coat.

When traveling from a cold climate to a warm climate, acclimatize your guide dog/service animal by:

  • Shaving the coat if possible
  • Brushing the coat often
  • Adding Pedialyte® to water bowls to prevent dehydration
  • Putting freezer packs in the pockets of vests to cool down the body
  • Purchasing a “cooler” collar to wear
  • Purchasing booties to protect the animal’s pads, if applicable

When traveling from a warmer climate to cold climate, consider:

  • Purchasing vests/coats with insulation
  • Purchasing booties to protect the animal’s pads, if applicable
  • Brushing the coat frequently.

Some guide dogs/service animals will need to get used to any new gear before being able to work without being distracted by it.

How do I keep my guide dog/service animal healthy?

  • Carry a pet first aid kit with you, or supplement yours with what your guide dog/service animal needs.
  • Take a pet first aid class. Even if you can’t physically perform the needed action you may be able to instruct another person and save your guide dog/service animal’s life.
  • Identify veterinarians in the areas you plan to travel. Keep their names and contact info in a handy, safe place.
    • Set aside money for health certificates, veterinarian visits, and fees related to travel with an animal.
  • Carry a head halter and/or muzzle. Make sure your guide dog/service animal has been introduced to these items before travel. Some places may require a muzzle or muzzle like tool for dogs in public.
  • Take care of yourself. Your guide dog/service animal depends upon you as much as you do them. Make sure you are in good health so you can take care of your guide dog/service animal.
  • Have a back up plan to meet your needs in case your guide dog/service animal is not allowed to accompany you or becomes unable to work.


Which of the following is not recommended for caring for your service dog abroad?

  1. Brushing your dog’s coat regularly.
    In fact, brushing your dog’s coat is recommended.
  2. Traveling with plenty of chew toys.
    Correct. Or should we say incorrect. While your dog will appreciate the treats, they do not figure as a recommended step for caring for your animal.
  3. Consider any needs your dog may have when moving from a cooler climate to a warmer climate or Vice versa.
    You should consider the climate from which your animal is traveling, taking the necessary steps to help it keep cool in hot places, and warm in cold places.
  4. Identify veterinarians in the area where you plan to travel.
    This is a recommended step to take when preparing to study or volunteer abroad with a service animal.

    Related Resources

    Tip Sheet

    Personal Stories

    Best Practices

    Books and Journals


    Videos and Webinars

    Sign up for our E-News

    Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

    Also Search our NCDE Web Resource Library

    Contact Us