Pet travel requires a bit of planning, but for some pet owners, a vacation feels incomplete without a four-legged friend. Preparing for a pet’s trip means more than packing fiddo’s toothbrush, however. Here’s how to guarantee great memories.
Just before travel, cut your pet’s nails, so they won’t catch in the carrier. Make sure he wears his regular identification tag, plus a travel one with contacts at your destination. Since dangling tags can catch in the carrier grate, secure them to your pet’s collar with tape. Label the carrier, too.
If you’re flying with a small pet, choose an airline that will let her ride in the cabin, under the seat. If your pet is too large, consider driving or leaving him at home. Cargo is unsafe and uncomfortable, plus frightening for the pet. Think of it as a last resort. If you need to fly but don’t want to risk cargo, Pet Airways flies animals in their main cabin. Or you can hire a transport service such as TJR Pet Express to drive your pet to your vacation spot.
Even for in-cabin travel, it’s best to exercise your dog for at least 15 minutes before boarding to quell his anxiety (Tip: DO avoid sedatives, which can slow breathing, especially for dogs prone to respiratory issues).
Since he’ll be confined awhile without breaks, don’t feed him for four to six hours before departure. (Tip: DO freeze water in the tray inside the crate, so he’ll stay hydrated.)
No well-traveled pet should leave home without these:
1. Sturdy, well-ventilated carrier or crate (labeled with owner’s ID)
2. Leash, collar, and permanent and travel ID tags
3. Health certificate from a vet (often required when crossing state lines), medications, medical records, and a vet contact
4. Paperwork for international travel; the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s website offers guidelines
5. Pet food and bowls
6. Favorite bedding and toys
7. Litter and litter pan for cats, training pads for dogs, if used
8. Grooming supplies, including a dental kit, pet wipes for spot cleaning, and nontoxic pet sunscreen
9. Pet flotation device if you’ll be near water
10. Current photo, in case your pet gets lost
For pet-friendly accommodations and attractions, consult “Traveling With Your Pet: the AAA PetBook.” We also recommend these following websites: tripswithpets.com, dog friendly.com, and pettravel.com.