Pet Owners Safety Guide When Traveling

If you are like most pet owners, you like your pet to travel with you.  TripAdvisor performed a survey of 1,100 travelers, which included 700 pet owners. More than half of all pet owners (53%) said that they travel with their pets.

Traveling with pets can be stressful, though, both for you and for your pet. Long hours in a car, plane or train can be hard on an animal as can irregular feeding and potty schedules. Traveling can also be unsafe for your pet.

Fortunately, you can take extra steps to make sure your pet stays safe and secure while traveling.

Guide to Keeping a Pet Safe While Traveling

Plan ahead

Rules vary between carriers, so check your airline’s specific policies regarding pets before you book your plane tickets. Depending on breed, size and requirements of your pet, your animal companion may travel as a carry-on, or your pet may need to be checked or transported with cargo.

Choose pet-friendly accommodations. Visit the hotel’s website or telephone your accommodation before you book. The website PetsWelcome.com maintains a list of pet-friendly hotel chains. Some hotels do not allow animals, and never leave your pet in a vehicle overnight (or any time in the heat).

Use pet-friendly airport transportation and follow the guidelines regarding pet carriers, harnesses, certified search dogs, seeing-eye dogs, and leashed service animals.  Some services offer private vans for large kennels. Use an appropriate pet carrier that is sturdy, provides plenty of air flow, and is the correct size for your pet.

If you are traveling outside of the continental U.S., check out the U.S. Department of State website for helpful information, such as import and quarantine restrictions, labeling tips for your pet’s carrier, and flying with service animals.

Get a pet checkup and veterinary documentation

Have your veterinarian check your pet’s health before you leave on your trip, and make sure your pet’s vaccinations and vaccination records are up to date. Get a health certificate dated within 10 days of your departure, just in case you need to prove that your pet has all its vaccines and was healthy before you left on your trip. For example, while you may never need to prove that your dog has had its rabies shot, documentation of vaccination can be invaluable in case your pup ever nips at someone.

Pack your pet’s bags

Pack your pet’s bags with as much, if not more, care than you use when packing your own luggage. Here is a short checklist of items you may wish to pack:

  • Health records and vaccination tags to prevent unwanted quarantine, lab testing or even euthanasia in case your animal bites a human
  • Pet insurance contact information, as needed
  • Proper ID tag secured to a well-fitting collar
  • 2 portable bowls, one for food and one for water; teaching your pet to eat or drink out of only one set of bowls prevent your animal companion from accidently consuming unsafe substances
  • Bottled water, treats, and enough food for the trip to avoid the risk of feeding your pet something it is not accustomed to eating (you may even want to pack extra food, just in case you get delayed)
  • Pooper-scooper, waste bags, and hand wipes
  • Favorite toy, pillow or blanket to prevent anxiety or aggressive behavior, which can be unsafe

Just before you leave

Feed your animal companion three to four hours before you leave for your trip, and go outside for a potty break before departing to prevent ‘accidents’ that can be uncomfortable and even unsafe.

Take Every Precaution on the Flight

Book a directly flight whenever possible to reduce the risk of mishandling or loss of your pet’s carrier during a layover.

Attach a small plastic container of dried food outside the crate to allow airline personnel to feed your traveling companion in case of a layover.

Purchase a USDA-approved animal shipping crate that is big enough for your traveling companion to sit, stand and turn around in comfortably.

Line the crate with a safe bedding material that absorbs liquids, in case your pet has an accident.

Put a “Live Animal” sticker on the crate and add your name, cell phone and destination phone number. Add a photo of your pet to the crate and keep a picture of your pet in your wallet or phone.

Securely close the crate but do not lock it in case airline personnel need to open the crate during an emergency.

For more information on keeping your pet safe while traveling, contact your veterinarian, travel consultant and airport. Taking extra precautions before you leave home can ensure a happy and safe trip for you and your pet.