Travel can be a fun adventure for humans, but it can also become a stressful ordeal for your dog or cat. The good news is, a little planning can make the journey a lot smoother for both of you.
Is your pet a good candidate for travel?
- stay calm during shorter trips?
- respond well to breaks in routine?
- in good health and relatively young?
- up to date on all shots?
General Travel Tips:
Get your companion microchipped and have it wear a collar with an ID tag. That tag should include the pet’s name and your phone number.
Take your pet to an animal hospital for a checkup. You can pick up enough medication for the trip and bring up any concerns. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need a health certificate signed by a veterinarian dated 10 days or less before departure.
Carry a printed-out photo of your pet, a copy of rabies and other vaccination certificates, and (if applicable) your pet’s signed health certificate.
Purchase a pet carrier or shipping crate that’s USDA approved. Make sure it’s big enough for your pet to stand up, lie down, and turn around in. Line the bottom with bedding.
Assemble a travel kit for your pet. Include:
- a blanket or favorite toy
- harness and leash
- a scoop or baggies for cleanup
- grooming supplies
Book a direct flight if possible.
Exercise your pet before the flight.
Try to keep your animal calm; your vet can share tips. Tranquilizers are rarely prescribed because they can cause medical complications.
If your pet is traveling by shipping crate, remember to tape a bag of dry food to the outside of the crate so airline personnel can feed your pet midflight. Include a tip-proof water dispenser or freeze a dish of water and slip it into the cage.
Mark the crate ‘Live Animal’. Write on it your name, phone number, and include a photo of your pet.
Tell the airline employees that your pet is in the cargo hold. If your plane is delayed or you’re concerned for the pet, ask that airline personnel check on it.
Get your pet used to being driven by taking him on short car trips, then work up to longer ones if your animal tolerates them.
Transport your pet in a crate or carrier that’s secured so it won’t slide. Otherwise, keep your pet in the back seat in a harness secured to a seat buckle.
Schedule frequent breaks.
Check that your accommodation is pet-friendly. Research hotels and campsites ahead of time. Staff will be happy to tell you about their pet policies and any fees.
Never, ever leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle! Even with the windows cracked, the car can become lethally hot in just minutes.
Animals can get seasick. Try a short test run, for example an hour-long boat ride. Your vet may be able to prescribe seasickness medication.
Call ahead to check if your marina and chartered boat are pet-friendly.
Watch your animal carefully when boarding and exiting the boat.
Have your animal wear a well-fitting flotation device even if it knows how to swim.
Apply animal-safe sunscreen to pets with thin coats, bald patches, etc.
Supply your pet with astroturf, newspaper, or a litter box.
Warning Signs of Animal Distress
If your pet gets to stressed during travel, it could lead to some major health consequences.
Watch out for:
- shaking and startling at noises
- barks or meows constantly
- scratching and chewing on self
- lethargic; doesn’t
respond when called
- glassy eyes
- panting and racing heart
- If you notice any of these signs, take your pet to an animal hospital as soon as possible.