The winter holiday season includes travel for millions of people. With all the plans for gifts, decorations, coordinating schedules and family plans, it’s easy to forget to prepare your pet for the travel ahead. Here are some tips for pet-parents to keep in mind when traveling.
It’s a good idea to see your vet for a check up, especially if you are planning on an extended trip. Make sure vaccinations are up to date & keep vaccine records with you for distant travel.Health Certificates from a USDA-Accredited Veterinarian (click here) are required for airline travel.
It may be helpful to bring along some local or bottled water for your pet to drink while you travel, in addition to a supply of their regular food. Be sure to bring any medications they need.
Personality & Needs
Consider your unique dog or cat and what their needs are. If driving, how often do they need to break for exercise? How will they behave in a changing environment? Plan accordingly. Don’t forget to keep some pet food and water in a convenient place during the trip.
Your dog or cat will do best if you have with you a crate or carrier for them. It is absolutely necessary for airline travel (unless you are lucky enough to be on one of these special doggy plane trips!). Be sure to call the airline ahead of time to learn their rules, even if you’ve flown with them in the past. Rules can change, and you do not want to find out after you show up at the airport! Crates and carriers are available from most pet supply stores. Here are some things to consider when looking for a crate to purchase or prepare for travel:
- Large enough to allow the pet to comfortably stand, turn and lie down.
- Strong, with handles and grips, and free of interior protrusions.
- Leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent material.
- Ventilation on opposing sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow.
- “Live Animal” label, arrows upright, with owner’s name, address and phone number in case of airline travel.
- Stock the crate with a comfortable mat, your dog’s favorite toy, and a water bottle, and your dog is ready to go.
Identification is huge when it comes to keeping your pet safe. Whether or not you are traveling, your pet should be wearing identification on their collar. If your pet is lost (click here), you want to make it easy for someone who finds them to contact you.
A collar is just the first line of defense with identification. That collar can be pulled off by an unhappy pet, accidentally removed, broken, or intentionally removed by another person. What can you do to protect your pet when there are so many ways for a collar and ID to fail? Consider getting a microchip (click here) for your pet!
A microchip provides a unique identification number on a chip under your dog’s skin that can’t be easily removed like a collar. It was thanks to microchipping that Mia was returned to her family (click here).
Consider where you will be staying for your trip. Are you staying with relatives? Have they made any requests of you or accommodations for your pet? Are you staying in a hotel or motel at all during the trip?
- Find out in advance which hotels or motels at your destination or on your route allow dogs. Many do not, or have size or breed restrictions.
- If your dog is allowed to stay at a hotel, respect other guests, staff and the property.
- Keep your dog as quiet as possible.
- Do not leave the dog unattended. Many dogs will bark or destroy property if left alone in a strange place.
- Ask the management where you should walk your dog, and pick up after him. Do not leave any mess behind.
- Remember that one bad experience with a dog guest may prompt the hotel management to refuse to allow any dogs. Be considerate of others and leave your room and the grounds in good condition.
Keep these 5 phone numbers handy! In addition, look up emergency veterinarians in the area you are traveling to ahead of time and store their number/address in your phone.