Taking your pet with you on vacation may add a lot of enjoyment to your trip, but it is important to keep your pet’s health and safety in mind when traveling. Consider your pet’s personality, disposition and health in making travel plans – sometimes the best option is to hire a pet sitter or board your pet.
If traveling with your pet is the right thing for you, the following tips will help make your trip a pleasant one:
WHEN TRAVELING BY ANY MEANS
- Make sure that your pet has a current ID tag that is firmly attached. It should have your name, the pet’s name, your address and telephone number and for dogs a current rabies tag. You can also add a temporary tag with contact info for the hotel or vacation home. Always make sure your pet is microchipped and the info is up to date.
- Go to the vet. Prior to traveling with your pets make sure you take them to the veterinarian for a thorough check up and update on vaccinations. Obtain the health certificates, records and vaccinations required by the airline you’re using and by the state or country you’re visiting.
- Don’t assume. Even if your pet is small you need to make arrangements ahead of time! Be sure to book air travel far in advance and call to confirm your hotel’s pet policy. If you’re camping, be sure your campground permits pets. Amtrak permits small pets under the seat (in 1 train car), while cruise ships and Greyhound buses generally do no permit pets. Metro generally permits small pets traveling in a hard-sided carrier.
- Research pet shelters and animal control agencies at your destination and layover cities. (as well as along your route if driving) Pets can get lost during travel – know where to call ahead of time and have easy access to your pet’s information (including recent pictures).
- Be prepared. Bring your pet’s food and water dishes plus familiar toys and blankets, as well as medications, pictures, a soft muzzle, health certificate, emergency contacts, and vaccination records.
WHEN TRAVELING BY CAR
- Loose dogs and cats can cause distractions to the driver or even allow the pet to jump out of the car, so make sure your pet is secured in a pet carrier or by a seatbelt restraining device.
- Always have a strong comfortable leash and a secure collar or harness for your pet.
- NEVER leave your pet unattended in the car.
WHEN TRAVELING BY AIR
- Try to book direct flights and avoid connections and layovers.
- Make airline reservations in advance. Whether your pet rides in the cargo hold or under the seat in front of you, space is limited.
- Investigate airline policies: you may need to purchase a separate ticket or pay a fee to travel with your pet.
- Try to avoid the busiest travel times so airline personnel will have extra time to handle your pet.
- Do not feed your dog 6 hours prior to the flight and allow water up until the flight time. Water should be available inside the cage and give your pet fresh water as soon as you arrive to your destination.
- In December 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced their final ruling on travelling by air with service animals. Please visit transportation.gov for details.
Tips for cabin travel:
- You may need to check-in at a special kiosk, and use a different security checkpoint than other passengers. Confirm with the airline and allow for extra time to check-in and clear security.
- Your will have to remove your dog or cat from his carrier and walk hold him while you walk through the security check.
Tips for cargo travel:
- If possible, use airlines that hand carry your dog (inside the carrier) to and from the aircraft. Otherwise the carrier could simply be put on a conveyor belt.
- Most airlines have restrictions about animal cargo travel in the hottest and coldest months.
- Nonstop flights eliminates missed baggage connections and the chance that your dog will be left in extreme weather.
- Be aware that airline travel poses certain risks for animals with pre-existing medical problems and short faced breeds of dogs like bulldogs, Pekingese and Boston terriers. Always discuss this with your veterinarian prior to traveling.
WHEN SELECTING A CARRIER FOR TRAVEL
- The cage should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around freely.
- The walls of the carrier should be strong and waterproof.
- There must be adequate ventilation on at least three sides of the cage.
- The carrier should have sturdy handles for transport.
- The cage should have a water tray which is accessible from the outside so that water can be added if needed.
- If your pet will travel under the seat, look up the airlines’ seat stowage dimensions and purchase your crate accordingly.
- Line the carrier with towels to absorb any “accidents.”
Please note, articles in the Animal Resource Library are for reference only, and are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical or behavioral issues your pet may be experiencing.