One of the most stressful parts of pet ownership is what to do with your four-legged companion when you travel. While some pet owners opt for boarding, others choose to bring their furry family members along.
If you’re looking to hit the road or fly the skies with your canine companion or feline friend, American Kennel Club has some tips to make the trip as smooth as possible.
Health Checks: Bring your pet to the veterinarian for a check-up before going on a long journey trip. Make sure all vaccinations are up to date and obtain a record showing proof of up-to-date vaccinations. Health certifications are required for airline travel.
Ask the vet about potential health risks at your destination, like Lyme disease, and what the necessary preventive measures your pet needs to take.
Crates: If traveling by car, pets should be confined to a crate or carrier in the back seat. This will prevent distractions as well as protect the animal in the event of a collision. It can also keep your pet from getting into trouble in a hotel or at your host's home. Airlines also require that pets travel in a carrier or crate, whether they are flying in the cargo hold or plane's main cabin. Contact your airline directly for information on their pet policy.
Crates are available from most pet supply stores. Look for these features when purchasing and check out these crash-tested options:
- Large enough to allow the pet to stand, turn and lie down.
- Strong, with handles and grips, and free of interior protrusions.
- Leakproof bottom covered with absorbent material.
- Ventilation on opposing sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow.
Have Proper ID: In the event that your dog or cat slips away during the trip, you significantly increase the odds of recovery by making sure they can be properly identified.
- Make sure your dog has a sturdy leash and collar. The collar should have identification tags with the dog's name, your name, and your home phone number, as well as proof of rabies shots.
- Mark your pet's crate with your name, contact number, destination phone number, and photo of your pet. You should also carry a picture of your pet.
- Consider a permanent form of identification, such as a microchip.
Traveling by car: Bringing your pet along for a road trip requires more than just throwing a crate in the back seat, especially for long-distance trips or if you plan on being away for a long period of time.
- Get your pet geared up by taking him on a series of short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car.
- Bring food, a bowl, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid, and any travel documents.
- Be sure to pack plenty of bottled water, and avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle. Traveling on a full stomach can also cause pets to become car sick.
- Keep the car well-ventilated. If the dog is in a crate, make sure that fresh air can flow into the crate.
- Don't let pets ride cars with their heads outside the window. Dirt and other debris can enter their eyes, ears and nose and cause injury or infection.
- Make frequent stops to allow your pet to go to the bathroom and get some exercise. Be sure to clean up after your pet.
Traveling by plane: Most airlines have their own set of rules for canine air travel. Call ahead for information and make arrangements in advance of your trip.
- All airlines require health certifications and proof of vaccinations.
- Federal regulations require pets to be at least 8 weeks old and they should be weaned at least 5 days before flying.
- Try to book a nonstop flight and avoid plane changes when possible. Some airlines will not transport animals when it is extremely hot or cold.
- Dogs must be in an airline-approved crate when transported as cargo. Some airlines allow certain breeds and sizes to travel under the seat in a crate or carrier.