Summer is the time to travel! There are many things to consider when planning a trip with your pet, and preparation is an essential part of traveling.
Key steps to take before your trip include
Car Rides: No matter which mode of transportation you will take, you may travel by car during some part of your journey. Start by taking them on short drives and gradually increasing the time.
Flights: You can walk your pet around airline terminals, so they get used to the busy environment. Make sure to reward them for good behavior and talk reassuringly to them. Ensure you have the correct crate or carrier large enough for your pet to sit, stand, and turn around quickly. Also, be sure that the crate has legible passenger information and locks operably, and will not open if it is bumped or jostled. If you need a shipping crate, make sure it meets IATA standards.
Rules and laws (specific health, vaccination, and quarantine regulations) can differ from state or country of origin and departure. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, you may want to talk to your vet about the process. This is for your pet’s safety, and more places require pets to have a microchip implant.
Buckle up yourself and your children, so don’t forget your pet! Animals must be restrained for their safety, just like everyone else in the vehicle. Many pet harnesses, carriers, and travel crates are available. Did you know that it’s illegal to travel without your pet correctly restrained in some states? Make sure to take plenty of pit stops so your pet can stretch their legs and explore. Always keep pets on a leash to avoid them bolting into unfamiliar territory. Never leave pets alone in the vehicle; this can be deadly, even with windows ajar on a comfortable weather day.
Modes of Transportation
Trains are a great way to travel with small pets. Make sure to book your travel well in advance, as some lines have a maximum of five animals allowed per train. Here are a few general rules for train travel: Pets must ride beneath seats in approved, labeled pet carriers. The maximum size for pages is 19” long, 14” wide, and 10.5” high, and your pet must be able to sit and lie inside it without touching the sides. Pets must be at least eight weeks old, healthy, and harmless. Owners must sign a document certifying that their pets’ vaccinations are current and accepting liability for their pet’s well-being. Make sure to give your pet plenty of exercise before settling into carriers. During travel, check on your pet frequently to provide calming reassurance and plenty of food and water.
Airlines – When flying with a pet, the safest place for your pet is in the cabin with you. However, pets typically must be under 15 pounds, and their carrier must be small enough to stay beneath the seat. You will most likely be required to provide a recent health certificate and immunization records from a vet. You will generally be required to pay a pet fee each way. International flights may have different pet laws depending on your destination. Most countries need you to have a pet health certificate from a vet accredited by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In the event your pet must fly in cargo, take the following steps to protect your pet:
- Try to travel in mild weather to avoid extreme heat or cold.
- Give your pet plenty of exercise before the journey to help him expend some energy pre-boarding.
- Prepare the crate for comfort. Line with absorbent bedding and attach a bag of dry food so your pet can be fed during a long trip or layover. Make sure your pet’s identification is securely attached to the crate. Securely close the crate but don’t add any locks in an emergency. You can freeze a small bowl of water for your pet to drink as it melts, and you won’t have to worry about spilling it.
- Don’t sedate your pet. Changing altitudes and atmospheric pressures can increase the risk of heart or respiratory problems with sedatives.
Other Modes: Cabs, rideshares, and taxis may have different pet policies. Make sure to call ahead of time to ask about their pet policies. If you rent a vehicle, find out their pet policies before getting to the counter. They may require an additional deposit. Buses, trains, and boats have animal allowance restrictions.
Before traveling, scheduling a check-up with your veterinarian is essential to ensure your pet is up for the trip. You will need to make sure all paperwork and vaccinations are complete. Some countries may require blood tests, rabies certificates, and specific vaccines as much as six months in advance of travel. Without adequate documentation, your pet may have to be quarantined upon arrival. If your pet is on any medications or a special diet, you will need to get a sufficient supply from your vet to last through the trip and a few weeks beyond.
Your pet’s needs will differ whether you are going far away or staying relatively close to home. When packing for your pet, make and double-check a list of everything they will need so you don’t forget anything essential. You may want to invest in calming products to reduce your pet’s anxiety. A pheromone collar or lavender oil can be sprinkled inside crates for a calming effect. Calming vests may be helpful as well. It is beneficial to try all these beforehand to watch for adverse reactions. It is useful to pack something with the scent of home. If your pet has a beloved blanket, stuffed animal toy, or even a shirt that smells like you, place that inside the carrier for comfort. Don’t forget collars, leashes,
muzzles, safety vests, and other items that will help you always keep your pet under control. Bring plenty of extra food, toys, and a collapsible water bowl for on-the-go hydration.
Most pets don’t react well to abrupt food changes, and your pet may already feel out of sorts during travel. While some pets may be hungry after a trip, some may not show much interest in food. Once they feel comfortable in new surroundings, you can try again. Dry food should be easy enough to take with you. Suppose you’re going on a long trip. In that case, you can research the location before visiting and identify places to purchase additional food upon arrival. Canned or fresh food can be more challenging to keep on hand, so it may be worth getting your pet used to a dehydrated food diet before you travel. If this isn’t an option, you can always buy it when you arrive or have food delivered to your destination. As a rule, avoid feeding too many new foods or giving too many treats, as overindulging your pet can lead to an upset stomach or persistent bathroom breaks.
Pack a Pet Travel Kit
→ A small amount of dry food
→ A small collapsible bowl
→ Medications and first aid items
→ Travel documents, like a rabies certificate
→ A favorite soft toy, blanket, or pillow
→ Treats and dental chews
→ Your veterinarian’s contact information
Plan for the Unexpected
- Try to plan if you need to send pets back home or leave them behind. Your plan should include:
- Your contact information
- Your vet’s contact information
- Details of a trusted person or facility with whom your pet could stay
- Instructions on financial and medical resources your pet might need
Helpful Pet Travel Apps
Dog Park Finder Plus – Search thousands of dog parks, beaches, and restaurants that welcome you and your furry traveling companion.
BringFido – Pet-friendly accommodations, dining options, local groomers, daycares, trainers, and boarders.
VetFinder – Find a vet quickly when of town and your pet becomes ill or injured.
This article will help prepare you and your pet for the summer season and for traveling.
Enjoy Your Summer