Planning and preparation are important when traveling
with family pets. There are dogs and cats that cannot
withstand the rigors of any type of travel due to illness,
injury, or temperament. If this is the case, discuss with
your veterinarian options such as hiring a reliable
pet-sitter or housing your pet in a clean, well-managed
For car travel, consider whether or not your pet is
comfortable in the vehicle before committing to a long road
trip. A car-sick pet is sure to make the trip miserable for
everyone. When planning your trip, if you will be staying
with friends or family along the way, be considerate and ask
them in advance if your pet is welcome. The same applies to
choosing hotels, motels, parks, and campgrounds. Always
check if pets are allowed or if kennel facilities are
available. If a hotel or motel claims to be "pet friendly,"
clarify exactly what that means to be sure it will
accommodate you and your pet's needs. If your pet must be
left alone in a hotel room, place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on
the door and inform the maid and the front desk. Before
leaving home, consider bringing along a portable kennel for
use in hotel rooms or the homes of friends or relatives who
are not comfortable allowing your pet to roam freely when no
one is home.
Whether you travel by car or by plane, be sure your pet
is wearing an ID tag and, if possible, also has an imbedded
identification microchip. While both should contain accurate
contact information, consider not including your pet's name
on its ID tag. How a pet responds to hearing its name used
could be helpful in reuniting a lost or stolen pet with its
rightful owner. Grooming (bathing, combing, trimming nails)
before a trip, plus taking along your pet's favorite food,
toy(s), and dishes will make your pet more comfortable.
Carry proof of rabies vaccination and a current health
certificate when crossing state or international borders.
Finally, keep a printed photograph (a digital copy is also
good to have) of your pet with you to assist with
identification in case your pet is lost.
Most importantly, before undertaking any trip, consult
your veterinarian to ensure that all required vaccinations
are up-to-date and to receive a certificate of veterinary
inspection within ten days prior to travel by air.
Travel by air
Transporting pets by air concerns pet owners the most.
Certain breeds such as brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs and
cats may have difficulty with air travel. Federal
regulations require that pets be at least 8 weeks old and
weaned at least 5 days before flying. Most airlines that
will transport pets require a certificate of veterinary
inspection (health certificate) that is issued within 10
days prior to travel. Today, many major airlines allow cats
and small dogs to travel in specially designed carry-on
luggage that will fit underneath the seat. If you are
traveling internationally, consult your veterinarian and/or
your state's USDA Veterinary Services Area Office or the
destination country's embassy or consulate about additional
travel restrictions or quarantine requirements.
Whenever possible, book a nonstop flight and avoid plane
changes and busy holidays. During warm weather months,
choose early morning or late evening flights. In colder
months, choose midday flights. As of the revision date of
this brochure, regulations associated with the Federal
Animal Welfare Act prohibit airlines from accepting dogs and
cats for shipment if the airline cannot prevent exposure of
the animal to temperatures less than 45 degrees F (7.2 C) or
more than 85 degrees F (29.5 C) for more than 45 minutes
when the animal is transferred between the terminal and the
plane, or for more than 4 hours when the animal is in a
holding facility. However, the prohibition against exposure
to temperatures below 45 degrees F is waived if a
veterinarian provides an acclimation certificate stating
that the dog or cat can be exposed to lower temperatures.
Your veterinarian cannot issue a certificate allowing
exposures to temperatures above 85 degrees F for more than
Reconfirm your flight arrangements the day before you
leave to ensure there have been no unexpected flight
changes. Arrive at the airport early, exercise your pet,
personally place it in its crate, and pick up the animal
promptly upon arrival at your destination. When boarding the
plane, let the flight attendant know that your pet is in the
cargo hold. If your pet will be traveling with you in the
cabin, arrange to check-in as late as possible to reduce the
amount of time your pet will have to spend in the busy
The various airlines occasionally update their pet travel
regulations including restrictions on breeds and size,
restrictions relating to weather conditions and time of
year, and charges for checked kennels. Consult with your
veterinarian to determine what is best for your pet's
well-being and ask about current airline regulations.
kennels are the most common cause of escaped or injured
animals during air travel.
transport crates, available from most airlines or pet shops,
Be large enough to allow the animal to stand (without
touching the top of the cage), sit erect, turn around,
and lie down in a natural position.
strong and free of interior protrusions, with handle or
a solid, leak-proof bottom covered with plenty of
appropriately and clearly labeled. Include your name,
home address, home phone number, and destination contact
information, as well as a designation of "Live Animals,"
with arrows indicating the crate's upright position. In
addition, carry your pet's photo and health information
with you on the plane for easy identification in the
event the cage label is lost.
adequately ventilated so that airflow is not impeded.
Take time to accustom your pet to the crate in which it
will be traveling. At the airport, you may be asked to
remove your pet from the carrier so the carrier can be put
through an x-ray scanner. To minimize the chance that you
will have to chase a loose pet through the airport, put a
halter or collar and leash on your pet before you put it in
Ask your veterinarian for specific feeding instructions.
For your pet's comfort, air travel on an almost empty
stomach is usually recommended. The age and size of your
pet, time and distance of the flight, and your pet's regular
dietary routine will be considered when feeding
recommendations are made. It is recommended that you not
give tranquilizers to your pet when traveling by air because
they can increase the risk of heart or respiratory problems.
Travel by car
If your pet is not accustomed to car travel, take it for
a few short rides before your trip so it will feel confident
that a car outing does not necessarily mean a trip to the
veterinarian or unpleasant destination. If your dog has a
problem with carsickness, your veterinarian can prescribe
medication that will help it feel more comfortable during
long trips. Cats should always be confined to a
cage or in a cat carrier to allow them to feel secure and
prevent them from crawling under the driver's feet.
Providing a familiar toy or blanket can help make your pet
more comfortable in its carrier. Regardless of the length of
the trip, pets should not be left unattended in a car.
A dog that must ride in a truck bed should be confined in
a protective kennel that is fastened to the truck bed. Dogs
riding in a car should not ride in the passenger seat if it
is equipped with an airbag, and should never be allowed to
sit on the driver's lap. Harnesses, tethers, and other
accessories to secure pets during car travel are available
at most pet stores. Accustom your dog to a seatbelt harness
by attaching a leash and taking your dog for short walks
while wearing it. Offer your dog a treat and praise at the
end of the walk to associate a positive experience with
wearing the harness. Don't let your pet ride with its head
outside the car window as particles of dirt or other debris
can enter the eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or
During the trip, maintain your regular feeding routine
and serve the main meal at the end of the day or when you
reach your destination. Feeding dry food will be more
convenient, assuming your pet readily consumes it. Dispose
of unused canned food unless it can be refrigerated. Take
along a plastic jug of cold water in case other reliable
water sources are not available. On long trips, feed your
pet small portions of food and water and plan to stop every
two hours for exercise. Remember to include a leash with
your pet's traveling supplies.
Travel by bus or train
Most states prohibit animals from riding on buses and
similar regulations restrict travel on trains. Exceptions
are made for guide and service dogs accompanying blind and
disabled persons. Consult your local carriers for current
Camping with pets
Traveling to country settings with your pet presents its
own challenges. Skunks, raccoons, porcupines, snakes, and
other wildlife can bite or otherwise injure your pet. Keep
your pet within sight and on a leash. Carry an adequate
supply of water for you and your dog. Be considerate of
other campers. Prior to the trip, ask your veterinarian
about flea, tick, and heartworm prevention and make sure
your pet is vaccinated against rabies. Before taking your
dog on a long hike, be sure your pet is physically able to
handle the exercise.
Additional pet travel & health tips
traveling by car, pack a simple pet first-aid kit that
includes assorted bandages, antiseptic cream, an
antidiarrheal medication that is safe for pets (ask your
veterinarian to suggest a product), gauze squares, and
the phone numbers of your veterinarian, a national
poison control hotline, and a 24-hour emergency
addition to a standard identification tag (which should
be labeled with your name, home address, and phone
number), your pet's collar should include a travel tag
with information on where you are staying while away
from home. Should your pet become lost, this will allow
you to be contacted locally.
Perform a daily "health check" on your pet when away
from home. In unfamiliar surroundings, your pet's
appetite, energy, and disposition may change. Watch for
unusual discharges from the nose and eyes, excessive
scratching or biting of any body part, abnormal
elimination, or excessive water consumption. Visit a
local veterinarian if you are concerned about any
physical or behavioral changes.
Please visit our
Frequently Asked Questions Page for more info regarding
our Expert Pet Travel and Transportation Service.
Let our experience work for you -
us here for your next pet transportation or
relocation. We encourage you to email us with any questions
you may have regarding any aspect of our services and how we
may better meet your individual pet shipping needs.
We specialize in stress-free pet travel services!
Seeking the professional pet relocation service of Animal
Transporters will assure you peace of mind when transporting
your pets on the ground or in the air.
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