Traveling with Your Pets
When planning a vacation, there are many preparations that need to be made. Once you have decided that your pet will be traveling with you, you will want to make sure that you plan properly to keep your pet safe and to help your vacation run smoothly.Airline Travel
If traveling by air, you will first want to check with the airlines to find out their requirements. Most airlines require a health certificate from your veterinarian within 10 days of the flight, and may have restrictions on when, how, and what kind of pets can fly. Dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old and must have been weaned before traveling by air. Kennels must be enclosed and allow room for standing, sitting, and laying down in a natural position. They must be easy to open, strong enough to withstand the normal rigors of transportation, and have a solid, leak-proof floor covered with an absorbent lining. There may also be size restrictions depending on whether your pet is flying as cargo or in the passenger cabin. You will want to find out your specific airline’s pet policies and carrier requirements before you make your flight reservations.
If traveling by car, always make sure that your pet is restrained inside the car by using a car harness or a secured carrier. In a car accident, pets or carriers that are not secured can act as projectiles and can injure themselves or others in the car. Make sure to stop every few hours for a potty break, and bring bags to clean up after your pet. If your pet is prone to anxiety during car travel, consider trying to desensitize your pet to car travel.
Start the desensitization process by putting your pet in the car (without turning it on). Praise your pet for good behavior and give a small treat. Once your pet is comfortable sitting in the car, turn it on. If your pet is comfortable in the running car, slowly drive up and down the driveway and around the block as long as your pet does not show any signs of distress. Gradually increase the amount of time spent in the moving car and continue offering treats and praise for good behavior. This process may take weeks or months, but most pets will respond to the consistent training. For those few that don’t respond, or if your pet is prone to motion sickness, contact your veterinarian for medications.
If traveling outside the Continental United States, you will want to make sure that you know the pet requirements for your destination. Hawaii, US territories, and certain foreign countries have quarantine or health requirements for arriving pets. There may also be additional airline requirements for international flights, including additional ventilation, labeling, and a shipper’s certification.
No matter how you travel, keep up-to-date tags on your pet and if your pet is microchipped, make sure your contact information is up-to-date. Bring a pet first aid kit and a copy of your pet’s medical records in case of emergency.
Being fully prepared is the best way to enjoy a fun and safe vacation with your pet.