Traveling with your pet can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Whether you're planning a road trip, hopping on a plane, or exploring new destinations, traveling with pets requires careful preparation and consideration to ensure their comfort, safety, and happiness on the road.
Research pet-friendly transportation options, accommodations, and any specific requirements or restrictions at your destination. Some hotels, airlines, and modes of transport have specific policies and regulations regarding pets, so it's crucial to gather all the necessary information beforehand.
Here's what you need to know before you and your four-legged companion hit the road.
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Choose a Pet-Friendly Destination
When planning a trip with your pet, be sure to choose a pet-friendly destination. The last thing you want is to keep your pet cooped up in a crate in the hotel room the whole time. There are plenty of pet-friendly activities for you to do on vacation. Consider locating pet-friendly beaches, national parks, restaurants, and even wineries at your travel destination.
Remember to always prioritize your pet's safety and comfort when traveling, and plan ahead and prepare for any necessary documentation or vaccinations.
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Book Pet-Friendly Transportation
If you're not traveling by car, you'll need to find a pet-friendly mode of transportation. Many public transportation systems such as buses, trains, and subways allow pets, but rules and restrictions vary by location and carrier. Most require pets to be in carriers but some allow leashed pets. Check with the carrier beforehand and ensure you have all the necessary documentation and vaccinations for your pet.
Service animals are permitted just about everywhere, but there may be special requirements during travel. Emotional support animals are typically not considered service animals, so the transportation company's general pet policy will apply.
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Research Pet-Friendly Accommodations
If you will be staying in hotels or other accommodations, make sure to research pet-friendly options in advance. Some accommodations may have restrictions on pet size or breed and may charge additional fees for pets. Book your accommodations in advance and inform them that you will be traveling with a pet.
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Visit the Vet
Before traveling, take your pet to the veterinarian for a check-up and to ensure they are up to date on all necessary vaccinations and medications. International trips will usually require a special health certificate provided by a USDA-accredited veterinarian, but even some domestic trips require special documentation. Ask your vet for advice specific to your pet's needs, and bring copies of their health records with you.
If your pet gets anxious when traveling, your vet may be able to recommend calming aids or supplements. If necessary, your vet can prescribe true anti-anxiety medications. These medications are much like those taken by people who are nervous about flying and work in a similar way.
It's imperative to discuss your pet's health and stress level with your vet before traveling with them. Sometimes the best thing is to leave your pet at home with a trusted friend or pet sitter if its health or anxiety would make travel too stressful.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Pack Necessary Supplies
Along with your own belongings, pack everything your pet will need for the trip:
- Collar or harness with current identification
- If your pet has a microchip, make sure your home information is current and registered with the microchip company.
- Pet food and treats
- Medications and recent health history, including proof of vaccinations
- Pet toys (puzzle toys can help keep them busy)
- Waste bags or a travel litter box
- Pet beds or blankets
- Carrier or crate
- Car restraints
- Pet first aid kit
- A list of veterinarians near your destination (including a 24/7 emergency clinic)
If you are traveling by plane, bring an airline-approved carrier. If you are traveling by car, use a restraint or carrier to keep your pet safe while driving. You may also need to bring a crate for your pet to use during the stay depending on your accommodations.
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Practice in Advance
If your pet is not used to traveling, start practicing before the trip. It's common for cats to fear car rides but even some dogs dislike car rides. Take short trips with your pet in the car or on public transportation to get them used to the experience and reward relaxed behavior with treats, toys, or praise. Gradually increase the length of the trips to build up their comfort level. Your veterinarian or certified trainer can help provide guidance, but you may wish to consult a certified animal behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist if your pet's travel anxiety is severe.
If your pet suffers from motion sickness in the car, discuss this with your veterinarian. There may be medications or tips to help decrease this unfortunate response before traveling.
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Be Mindful of Your Pet's Comfort
Make sure your pet is comfortable and calm throughout the journey. Offer them water and treats as needed, and take breaks for exercise and bathroom breaks. If you are traveling by car, never leave your pet in a parked car, as this can be dangerous or even deadly. Heat stroke can affect both dogs and cats.
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Follow Pet Etiquette
When traveling with a pet, be considerate of others. Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier, clean up after them, and be respectful of other travelers' space and comfort.
While traveling with your pet is certainly fun, there are some times to consider leaving your pet at home with a friend, relative, pet sitter, or a great boarding facility.
- If your pet is older and has trouble seeing, hearing or moving, it may be best to keep them in a familiar environment to avoid stress and anxiety around new places.
- If your pet is immune compromised in any way, sometimes the stress of travel as well as the exposure to new populations of pets and environments during travel can increase the chances of infection.
- If your pet has high anxiety around new places, people, sounds or objects, travel may not be fun for them at all.
Discuss with your veterinarian if you are concerned about how your pet will respond during travel. She may be able to give you tips, supplements or medications that can help, or she may be able to recommend reputable sitters or boarding facilities. The goal is for everyone to have fun during travel and sometimes, for our pets, that means staying home.