For many pet lovers, a trip is not a trip without their best friend by their side. And, a little preparation can go a far towards ensuring the adventure is safe and comfortable for all travelers—even the four-legged kind.
Before setting off on any road trip, pets should be outfitted with proper collars and tags, up-to-date on their vaccinations and have all the medications they may need. Also, ask your veterinarian about any particular parasites or health risks that might be associated with your planned destination.
Pet Car Travel Tips
Car trips can be a blast, and these pet travel tips can help make sure both you and your pet have a tail-wagging good time.
• Use a pet travel carrier.
It’s better to put your pet in a well-ventilated dog crate or pet travel carrier than let your furry friend move around freely. This way, your pet will be less likely to get hurt or distract the driver.
• Get your pet ready.
A quick hop to the veterinarian is the only car travel some pets experience. For these dogs or cats, try taking a few drives before a long trip. Go somewhere fun, like a park, to help your pet associate the car with good times.
• Plan for mealtime.
Feed your pet a light meal about three to four hours before you leave. Avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle even on a long drive. If your pet needs to eat, schedule a short rest for a small snack.
• Pack a pet travel kit.
It should include food, bowl, leash, plastic bags, grooming supplies and a pet first-aid kit. You should also bring along a favorite toy and a cozy pillow to help keep your pet happy.
• Keep those ears inside.
Some pets love the feel of the wind in their fur, but it’s not safe to let them ride with their head out of the window. They can end up with inner ear damage, lung infections or injuries from passing objects.
• Check ahead.
Make sure you book only pet-friendly hotels. Also, ask to see if they require any health or vaccination records. Certain interstate crossings may require proof of rabies vaccination.
• Bring water.
Take along bottled water or store tap water from home in safe plastic containers. This way, you’ll always have plenty of clean and safe water at hand to quench your pet’s thirst.
• Protect your car.
You may want to invest in pet car seat covers and rubber floor liners, especially if you plan to travel frequently with your pet. You can shop for them online or check local auto supply or pet stores.
• Keep your pet safe.
Never leave your pet alone in a parked car. On hot days, your pet could suffer from heat stroke, even with the windows cracked open. On cold days, the temperature in your car can drop quickly.
Pet Air Travel Tips
If you’re thinking about flying with your pet this holiday season, keep in mind that the ASPCA® doesn’t recommend taking pets on commercial airlines unless the pet is small enough to travel in the cabin.
However, if that’s not possible, these tips can help make it a safer and easier experience for you both.
• Plan Ahead.
Make sure you check on all requirements, such as certificates of health or blood work for your airline and destination location before possibly being turned away at the airport.
• Fly direct.
Book a direct flight whenever possible to help reduce the chance of delays or having your pet mishandled or left on the tarmac in bad weather during transfer.
• Get a crate.
Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that’s big enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably. You can shop for one online or at a local pet supply store.
• Label your pet’s crate.
Write "Live Animal" on the top and sides of the crate and clearly mark which end is up with an arrow. You should also write your pet’s name along with your contact and destination information on it.
• Add a photo.
Glue or securely tape a photo of your furry friend to the crate for identification purposes. This can be a lifesaver if your pet manages to get out of the carrier. You should also keep a photo of your pet with you.
• Prep the crate.
Line the crate with some type of bedding, like shredded paper or towels, to absorb any accidents. When you close the crate, you’ll want to make sure the door is secure—but not locked—so airline personnel can open it in an emergency.
• Avoid tranquilizers.
Tranquilizers are generally not recommended because they can hamper your pet’s breathing. Check with your veterinarian if you have questions.
• Set up a snack.
Tape a small pouch of dried food to the crate so your pet can be fed during a long trip or in the case of a delay. You can also freeze a small bowl of water and place it in the crate the day of the trip. This way, it won’t spill during loading and will melt during the flight for your pet to drink.
• Let airline personnel know.
Tell airline personnel, including baggage handlers and flight attendants, that you’re traveling with a pet in cargo so they’ll be ready in case any special attention is needed.
Remember, you can visit any licensed veterinarian in the US or Canada with ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, so your pet’s covered when you’re traveling.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). “Car Travel Tips.” ASPCA.org. <https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/car-travel-tips>.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). “Air Travel Tips.” ASPCA.org. <https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/air-travel-tips>.