Tips for Traveling with Pets

An estimated 30 million people each year travel with pets – that’s more than ever before. If you're traveling with Spot or Fluffy, here are some tips for how to be prepared and keep your furry companion safe during air and car travel and once you have arrived at your pet-friendly destination.

Preparing for The Trip

Whether you are bringing your dog or other four-legged friend on a hike in the mountains or to a beach in Hawaii, be sure and do these things to ensure your pooch is prepared for travel.

  • Check with your vet to make sure it's safe. The vet should give your pet a clean bill of health, and you can ask for a health certificate showing that he or she is up-to-date on rabies, kennel cough and distemper vaccinations
  • Consider signing your dog up for a refresher obedience course, though the necessity of this depends on your pup's command response level, the length of the trip, and the location.
  • Compile a list of vet clinics and animal hospitals in your destination location before you travel. This is especially important if your pet is currently taking medication or has health issues.
  • Pack enough medication for your entire stay, plus a few days' extra and a prescription in case you need a refill.
  • Make sure you are aware of all animal regulations at your destination, including state parks or places that allow pets.
  • Research what documentation you need for your pet in the area you are visiting, and make sure to bring a copy of his or her papers.

Air Travel

Flying can be very stressful for pets and should only be done if you can keep the pet in the cabin with you, unless there is no other option. Some airlines require that pets be checked as cargo, which can be dangerous for many reasons, including heat or cold, which can be magnified in the poorly ventilated cargo hold.

Additionally, familiarize yourself with airline breed restrictions for both cats and dogs. Breeds that are brachycephalic, or snub-nosed, often have respiratory issues and it can be immensely dangerous for them in cargo. Examples of snub-nosed dog breeds include pugs, shih tzus, Boston terriers, pit bulls, boxers, bulldogs and cane corsos. Snub-nosed cat breeds include Persians, Himalayans, exotic short hairs and Burmese cats. Here are some tips for flying with your pet in cabin:

  • Realize that pets must be transported in a carrier and kept inside it at all times. Additionally, the carrier must stay under the seat in front of you for the flight duration. Keep in mind that a pet carrier counts as your piece of carry-on luggage, so you might have to pay extra to check your bag.
  • Research each airline’s pet policy. Many have pet fees that range from $100 to $150 per one-way flight.
  • Make sure to exercise your pet before the flight, especially if it is a long one.
  • When flying with a pet, arrive earlier than you normally would for extra prep time.
  • Give your pet water right up until the flight begins, but don't feed the animal six to eight hours before the flight.
  • Bring a copy of vaccine records and a health certificate from the vet.
  • Have your pet and its carrier tagged with your information as well as the pet's information.
  • If it's safe for your pet to be checked, look at the individual airline's requirements for identifying the carrier, providing food and water and kennel regulations for pet safety and comfort.
  • Book with an airline that offers insurance for your pet.
  • Most airlines and vets advise against tranquilizing nervous pets because it disrupts their balance and other body regulatory systems. If tranquilizing is a must, it's important to mark the medication, dose and time given on a tag attached to the outside of the pet carrier.

Car Travel

Car travel is the best option for transporting your pet. However, if your pet isn't used to this mode of travel or doesn't enjoy being in the car, it's time to work on associating car rides with positive things. Take your dog on a short trip to a fun place, like the dog park, a pet store, or a drive-through window where he or she gets a treat. Additionally:

  • Be safe: Keep your pet in the back seat in a carrier or a harness attached to the seatbelt.
  • Take frequent breaks - every two to four hours, so pets can relieve themselves and have food and water. It's never a good idea to let your pets eat or drink in a moving car.
  • Don't let your dog stick its head out the window, which can cause damage to eyes and ears and other potential risks.
  • Talk to your vet about carsickness, which some animals experience. The vet might have recommendations. One way to prevent or minimize carsickness is to feed your pet only a light meal four to six hours before travel.

Lodging

This is the fun part! There are increasingly more bed and breakfasts that cater to pet owners and their lovable pooches, providing daycare, doggy beds, homemade treats, and other great pet amenities. Check out our list of pet-friendly inns to find the perfect place for you and your pet!


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