Traveling With Pets


Date: July 14th, 2010


When the time for vacation rolls around and I want to include my pet in my vacation plans I consider the following:

  • I verify that the hotel I will be staying at allows animals.
  • Before leaving home, I make a list of Emergency Veterinary Clinics in the area.
  • I bring along a first-aid kit and a copy of my pet’s health certificate, vaccination records, and other documents regarding my pet’s medical history. Also I bring a recent photo of my pet, in case he or she goes missing.
  • Other items that should be in tow when traveling with my pet include: food, water, treats, bowls, leashes, pick-up bags, toys, a crate, and a pet bed. All of these items can be found at your local CountryMax store. Traveling Pet

You also need to be aware of how to prepare your pet for the journey, depending on the method of transportation:


By Car:

Your dog does not need to be confined to a crate when traveling by car, as long as your vehicle has a restraining harness specifically designed for dogs. Dog travel harnesses buckle into most standard seatbelts and will secure your dog while driving. For cats, which are generally not as comfortable as dogs when riding in cars,  keep your pet in a carrier. Wrap a seatbelt around the front of the carrier to prevent the carrier from shifting during the drive.

Stop frequently to give your pet some exercise, and allow them to go to the bathroom. During rest stops, make sure your dog is on a leash with a collar and ID tag.  Do not leave your pet unattended in an empty vehicle – it is an open invitation to pet thieves and can also be a hazard to your pet’s health. On a warm day, even with the windows partially open, the temperature inside a car can reach 120o in a matter of minutes.


By Train:

With the exception of assistance dogs, Amtrak does not currently allow animals on their trains. Many trains in Europe, however, do allow pets. Generally, it is the passenger’s responsibility to feed and exercise their pets at station stops. When traveling with your pet by train, follow the guidelines for airplane travel.


By Airplane:

The Humane Society of the United States advises not transporting pets by airplane unless absolutely necessary.  If your pet must travel in the cargo hold, these are the Humane Society’s recommendations to ensure a safe flight for your pet:

  • Use direct flights. This will limit delays and any opportunities to make mistakes during airline transfers.
  • Always travel on the same flight as your pet. Request to observe your pet being loaded and unloaded from the cargo hold.
  • When you board the plane,  notify the captain and at least one flight attendant that your pet is traveling in the cargo hold.
  • Don't ever ship brachycephalic animals such as Pekingese, Bulldogs, or Persian cats in the cargo holds. These breeds have short nasal passages that leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.
  • If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes. Early morning or late evening flights are better in the summer; afternoon flights are better in the winter.
  • Fit your pet with a collar that can't get caught in carrier doors. Include two pieces of identification on the collar – a permanent ID with your name, home address, and telephone number, and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached.
  • Attach a travel label to the carrier with your name, permanent address, and telephone number, as well as your final destination and where you or a contact person can be reached as soon as the flight arrives.
  • Make sure that your pet’s nails have been clipped to protect against getting hooked in the carrier’s door, holes, and other crevices.
  • Give your pet at least one month before your flight to become familiar with the travel carrier. This will minimize his or her stress during travel.
  • Do not give your pet tranquilizers or other medications unless they are prescribed by my veterinarian.
  • Do not feed your pet for four to six hours prior to air travel. Small amounts of water can be given before the trip. If possible, put ice cubes in the water tray attached to the inside of your pet's kennel, as a full water bowl will spill.
  • Try not to fly with your pet during busy travel times, such as holiday seasons and summertime. Your pet is more likely to undergo rough handling during hectic travel periods.
  • Carry a current photograph of your pet. If your pet is lost during the trip, a photograph will make it much easier for airline employees to search effectively.
  • When you arrive at your destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe place. Examine your pet for any signs of mistreatment or injury. If anything seems wrong, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Get the results of the examination in writing, including the date and time.


By Ship:

Only a few cruise lines accept pets as passengers, and those few that do are frequently on ocean crossings only. Contact your cruise line in advance to learn about its policies, and be sure to ask which ships have kennel facilities.

By following these guidelines, you too can be on your way to a safer, stress-free vacation; for you and your pet!



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