The bags are packed, and you’re ready for your next adventure! Pet owners love a road trip or vacation as much as anyone, but an added element of care is necessary when considering our beloved four-legged friends. Before you embark on your next pet-friendly vacation, keep these tips in mind.
Before your trip
- Ensure your pet is microchipped and current on all vaccines before traveling.
- Are your accommodations pet-friendly? Is there an extra fee for pets? Are there rules about leaving your pet alone in the hotel room? Do your research before booking your lodging.
- Pack your pet’s medications, collar with identification, leash, food and treats, food bowl, bedding, and toys. It’s also wise to keep a current photo of your pet with you in case she becomes lost.
- Familiarize yourself with veterinary clinics in the area in the event of an emergency.
Travel by car
While many pets are accustomed to short car rides, traveling for an extended period of time is a new adventure. Ensure the safety and comfort of your pet to keep stress levels low for everyone.
- If she has never traveled long distances before, begin desensitizing her, well in advance of your trip, with more frequent car rides in varying lengths. The more comfortable she is in the vehicle, the easier longer travel should be.
- Properly secure your dog or cat in the vehicle. An appropriately sized pet carrier is often the best option for cats and small dogs, as it gives them a sense of security while keeping them safe. Dogs not in carriers should be properly secured with a seatbelt harness.
- While the vehicle is in motion, never let your pet wander around, sit on the driver’s lap, or stick her head out the window.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car, as temperatures inside vehicles do not reflect the temperature we may feel. Pets can negatively respond to the varying temperatures quickly, so use caution during driving breaks.
- Allow ample time for many stops to give your pet a chance to stretch her legs and go to the bathroom.
- Bring bags to clean after a bowel movement, and, when traveling with cats for long distances, bring a litter box.
Travel by plane
Airline adventures with pets may require more preparation and expense than traveling via car.
- If flying is an option, be considerate of the age, breed, and personality of your pet. Young animals (under 12 weeks) and geriatric pets are not ideal candidates for air travel. Brachycephalic breeds, such as Persian cats and English bulldogs, can experience decreased oxygen levels because of their shortened airways, so air travel can pose a health risk.
- Be considerate of your pet’s personality traits. If you have a high-strung English spaniel who doesn’t do well in isolation, traveling in the dark, noisy cargo area of a plane will likely be stressful for her.
- Before making any arrangements, check with the airline to learn the requirements for your particular trip. Unless traveling with a service animal, nearly all airlines require dogs and cats to fly in approved carriers. These carriers must meet certain dimensions if being brought into the cabin so they can properly fit under the seat. Dogs traveling in the cargo area of the plane will need to be in a sturdier, hard kennel. Ensure the pet carrier is clearly labeled with a “Live Animal” sticker as well as your contact and flight information.
- Extensive travel documentation is required when traveling via air. Depending on the state and country, health certificates, microchip information, and other documents may be needed. Check with each destination’s guidelines to ensure your pet is safe to travel. Certain regions, such as Hawaii, require quarantine upon arrival. Depending on the length of your trip and the quarantine requirements, it may be pointless to bring your pet along.
- When booking flights, be mindful of the time of year and your destination. Flights to Arizona in the summer would be too hot and hazardous for dogs flying in cargo. Flying to Maine in the winter months would be too cold. If possible, always book direct flights and try to be on the same flight as your pet to minimize any room for error.
For some pets, regardless of owner preparation, traveling can be stressful and scary. Sometimes it’s best to leave your pet at home with a trusted house sitter or with an established boarding facility.
Questions about traveling with your furry friend? Call our office.