Pet Travel Tips
Traveling by yourself can be hectic and stressful, particularly if you aren't well prepared. Traveling with your pet can also be stressful, not only to you, but also to that four-legged member of your family. Careful planning, however, can take a bite out of the stress and make it more comfortable and fun to travel with your pets. One key bit of advice - plan ahead, particularly if you are traveling out of your country. In some cases, you need to plan a six months to a year ahead to ensure that you and your pet will enjoy the adventure.
Some preliminary travel tips:
Know your pet
Make sure your pet is physically able to travel. If your pet is older, if it is very young and not well trained, or if it has been sick or under strict medication, reconsider your position. Your dog or cat may be better off in familiar surroundings with a loving pet sitter than on unfamiliar turf at this time.
Visit the vet
In the case of traveling abroad, make sure you and your veterinarian know what documents are necessary for ease of entry into another country. Make sure that your pet has vaccination and rabies records up to date. Know what testing needs to be done. Find information on pet passports for countries worldwide. Also, if your dog or cat isn't microchipped, have your vet implant a 15 digit ISO Standard 11784/11785 pet microchip. Most countries require this form of identification. Don't forget to register your contact information in a microchip database.
Ask your vet for information on traveling with your pet, and let him know where you are going, how you are going to get there and how long you will be gone. Ask for a referring veterinarian in the destination area, and keep the phone number of the vet with you. Get information from your veterinarian information on medications for motion sickness, tranquilizers he or she would recommend, and any health dangers in that area, such as tick, heartworm or flea infestations.
If you are planning to travel abroad, know that many countries take many months to prepare and testing must be done beforehand. Examples of these countries are Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hawaii and many islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific.
If you are planning to travel to any of the European Union countries from a rabies-free country or any of the other rabies-controlled countries, be aware that, requirements for pets entering the UK have eased a bit. Your pet will need to be microchipped and vaccinated at least 21 days prior to travel. If you are traveling from a high-rabies country, you will need to do a rabies titer test one month after vaccination and three months prior to entering the UK. Find more information on traveling to the European Union with a pet.
Get Quality Equipment Early
5. Purchase an appropriate pet carrier or pet crate for your pet, depending on its size and how you will travel. The carrier you choose should allow the pet to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably, and should be free of any interior protrusions that could injure your pet in travel. There should be adequate ventilation and a waterproof bottom. Your pet should be secure in the pet carrier. Make sure your name, your pet's name and address and phone are printed on the crate or attached to the carrier in indelible ink.
A word about the pet carrier or pet crate. Don't spring this mode of transportation on your dog or cat on the day you leave. Spend several weeks or months getting your pet used to the carrier or crate increasing intervals before embarking on your pet vacation.
Check with the airline if your pet will travel in the cargo hold to find out their precautions for this mode of travel. Tape the leash in a zip-lock bag on the outside of the carrier. Your pet can get tangled in it when traveling in the crate.
Find Pet Friendly Hotels
Search for pet friendly hotels, and be sure to double check with them before making reservations (policies do change, sometimes with new ownership).
If you are planning to travel via air with your pet in the cabin, you will not only need to have an airline compliant carrier, but you will need to let the airlines know that you are traveling with a pet before making your booking. Although some airlines will allow you to make a reservation for your pet over the Internet, we recommend that you speak with them on the telephone as well to avoid any issues on travel day.
When you are flying in the cabin with your pet, it is best to be as unobtrusive as possible. Reserve the window seat to remove your pet from the activity in the aisle. Consider a privacy carrier which has coverings that will cover some of the openings in the carrier and isolate your pet, thus helping to keep it calm. The better behaved your pet is (no running loose, no barking or howling), the more likely it is that the airline will continue its pet friendly policy and will encourage others in the industry to accommodate pet owners as well.
Many dogs and cats are fearful of traveling in an automobile, so it is crucial to introduce them to this slowly. Take short trips at first, and get them used to their restraint. Always give lots of hugs and treats when you go home. Lengthen the trips over time and soon you will have a great companion when traveling in your car.
Your air conditioning should be working properly and be sure and use it while driving. Don't roll down the windows and let your dog hang its head out of the window, and never have your pet in the back of a truck. It is a good idea to harness your pet when driving for their safety.
Visit the Vet (again)
If you are traveling internationally, your dog or cat will need a health certificate issued by your veterinarian shortly prior to travel. This certificate may need endorsement by the government agency that controls the import and export of pets. In the United States, this agency is the United States Department of Agriculture and in Canada it is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Your veterinarian should be aware of the appropriate agency in your country.
When packing for your trip, you will need:
- Any veterinary documents required for your pet's travel
- Your pet's medication, particularly enough of any prescription medication for the trip.
- A microchip and a collar with your contact information on it
- Your pet carrier or pet crate, complete with identification
- A leash and an extra collar. (Make sure your pet isn't wearing a choke collar of any kind. Cats should have a safety collar.)
- Extra sheets or an old blanket for under the carrier for travel in an automobile
- A couple of sheets to cover furniture and/or the bed at your destination, just in case
- A blanket or cushion from your pet's home bedding
- A container of your pet's food. If you pet eats a common food and you know that it is available, you needn't bring a whole bag. But, if you don't know if you'll find your pet's food, then bring it with you. (Don't forget a can opener and spoon, if needed)
- Of course, a portable food and water dish, and a portable water container for traveling while at your destination.
- Backpack for your dog if you are going to be doing hiking or walking
- Booties for your dog if you plan to travel on uneven or hilly ground
- Their favorite chew toys
- Grooming supplies, such as a brush or comb, a lint remover for hotel furniture, tweezers, scissors
- Trash bags and waste removal bags
- Extra old towels
- Portable cat litter tray for your kitty
- If traveling by car, use a pet carrier pad. If you decide to take a short walk, use a cat harness and leash. Under no circumstances should your cat run free.
- Use a pet harness or booster seat device when traveling by car. In case of an accident, dogs can be thrown around the car and be injured or injure the driver or passengers as well.
- Flashlight (for walking after dark)
- First aid kit for humans and pets
Pack a relaxed attitude. This is supposed to be fun for your family and your pet. Check out interesting places to visit along the way or at your destination, and plan extra time for impulse side trips.