It’s always fun when you’re getting ready for your next trip. You have your packing list all checked, your itinerary is set, and all your documents are in place. But, what about your pets? Are they as well prepared as you to take this trip?
If you’re planning on taking your dog or cat on your next pet-friendly adventure, you may find these quick tips quite helpful to make sure they also have a great time on the road. Since most people who travel with pets bring their dogs with them, I’ll focus the tips on dogs, but they apply to any pet you could travel with.
Before you start your trip:
- Purchase a secure USDA-approved dog carrier. It needs to be spacious enough for your dog to stand up, sit, lie down in, and turn around comfortably. It should be lined with some bedding —shredded paper or towels— to absorb accidents.
- Make sure your dog is fully insured, and that your policy covers overseas veterinary treatment. While you might not want to think about the possibility of anything happening to your furry friend while abroad, it's best to be prepared and look into pet insurance.
- Get your dog used to traveling around by taking him out for a few short trips in the car. Do this a few times and slowly increase the time in the car to get him used to traveling. This will make the big day less chaotic.
- If flying to a different country, check the laws and health requirements on travel with pets. Some countries might have different restrictions and quarantine times. Consult with the immigration department of your destination to make sure you can go there with your dog without any issues.
- Make an appointment with your veterinarian for a checkup. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Not only it is good for your pet’s safety, but it is also required if you’re flying.
- Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian to show at the airport when checking in. It must be dated within ten days of your departure.
- If your dog gets anxious and afraid when traveling, consult with your veterinarian on the best ways to make them comfortable along the way. Tranquilizing them is generally not recommended, especially if flying in cargo, as it could hamper their breathing.
- Check with the airline about the under seat dimensions for a hard or soft dog kennel. These dimensions vary depending on the airline. Additionally, your dog’s airfare will vary with the airline.
- Have your dog microchipped and buy him a collar and nametag with your name, phone number, and any relevant contact information.
On the day of the trip
If traveling by car:
- Some dogs prefer to be able to sit on the car seat and look out of the window, so let them do it safely with an in-car harness.
- Just like people, dogs travel better on an empty stomach, so don't feed your dog within two hours of your journey.
- Make sure you take plenty of water for the journey and make enough stops to allow your dog to have a drink and to use the bathroom if needed.
- In the case of delays, it may be worth having a sachet or two of your dog's favorite food packed for the journey.
- Make sure you pack any medication or special food your dog needs and have them easily accessible.
- Taking along their favorite toy may help keep your dog calm during the journey, and having their favorite bowl may help them feel settled when you arrive at your new location. You want to make them feel welcome and secure in this new setting, so familiarity helps ease the process of adjustment.
- If you’re traveling across state lines, bring along your dog's rabies vaccination record. Usually, there’s no issue, but some states require proof of vaccination at certain interstate crossings.
- Never leave your dog alone in the car; not even with the windows down. On a hot day, the car can heat up to temperatures that can affect your pet’s health or even kill them. The same could happen with freezing temperature.
If traveling by plane:
- Unless your dog is small enough to ride under your seat, it’s best to avoid air travel with them. Traveling in cargo can be a stressful experience for them.
- Whenever possible, book a direct flight. Try to reduce the number of hours they must face inside the kennel.
- Should your dog travel in cargo, make sure the crate has proper identification. Mark the crate with the words “Live Animal.” Also, add your name, address, cell phone, your destination’s phone number, and a photo of your dog. Should they escape, this could make it easier to find them.
- Right before the trip, tape a small pouch of dried food outside the crate so airline personnel can feed your pet during a layover.
- The night before you leave, you could freeze a small tray of water for your pet. This water will slowly melt along the way, giving your pet the chance to drink while in cargo without the mess of spilling the water everywhere while handling the crate during loading.
- Make sure the crate door is securely closed but not locked. It will make it easier for airline personnel to open the crate in the case of any emergency.
Feeling ready to take that trip with your furry friend?
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