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6 Tips When Travelling With Pets

Feb 01, 2020

More pet owners than ever are forgoing kennels and sitters to take their four-legged family members along on their journeys. A PetRelocation survey found that 42 percent of pet owners travel annually with their cats or dogs, and 90 percent had considered changing travel plans to accommodate pets. As the summer travel season arrives, consider these suggestions before hitting the road with, or booking a flight for your pets.  

Make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag that has your mobile phone numbers, and not just your home address or home phone number. You want to make it easy to be reached on the road if your pet somehow gets separated from you. You may even want to purchase an inexpensive secondary ID tag with the address and phone number of where you plan to stay on your trip. If you’ve had a microchip put in your pet, make sure the contact information associated with it is current.

Go through your daily routine with your pet and write down all the items you need, including the amount of food and any medications. Start a checklist that you update for several days so that you do not miss something important to your pet’s needs. Consider everything, including food, litter or waste bags and favorite toys. Save the checklist to a computer or mobile device and update it based on the location and duration of each trip.

If you have not traveled much with your pets and plan to take a road trip, go on a long afternoon drive to see how they behave in the vehicle. You may even want to consider staying overnight at a hotel or friend’s home to test the anxiety level of your pets. In some cases, you may discover that your pets’ behaviors or personalities are not conducive to travel and that they would fare better at home.

It is smart to take your own medical records with you when you are somewhere unfamiliar, and the same is true of pets. Find your latest set of shot records and other veterinary documentation to have on hand in an emergency. You should also plan ahead and anticipate any medications your pet may run out of while you are away from home and then refill prescriptions early.

If you are flying, be sure to read up on your airline’s rules and fees and the requirements for travel. Most airlines allow you to bring pets small enough to fit under the seat in front of you for an additional fee. You may need to call ahead and to reserve their spot, as some airlines restrict the number of in-cabin pets on a flight.

If your pet is larger and isn’t a service animal, it likely will be traveling crated in a separate location from you. There are also some laws about interstate travel with animals — Hawaii, for instance, bans a number of species — so visit the Centers for Disease Control webpage about animal importation to understand those rules more thoroughly. Also be sure to bring updated medical records, as these sometimes are required.

Do not rely on a website or a travel guide to inform you of the pet policies of hotels, motels of campgrounds — call and find out what the policies are in advance to avoid being without a play to stay when you arrive.

You may think that letting your dog stick its head out the window to feel the breeze in its ears is a special treat, but it is actually dangerous. A dog or cat roaming in a car can be a distraction to the driver. AAA reports that more than 30,000 car accidents are caused each year by an unrestrained dog in the front seat, for instance. Make sure the humans and animals in your vehicle are all restrained with belts, seats or harnesses designed for their sizes.

If you feed and walk your pets at a specific time each day, try to carry that over to your travel plans. Pets appreciate routine and feel content when their needs are met by you in a predictable manner. This is especially true when the scenery of your pets’ daily lives is different from usual. Keeping as close to your home routine as possible will help to calm anxiety about traveling.

Avoid leaving pets alone, or with strangers, for long periods.

A distressed pet away from home may try to come looking for you and wind up lost or injured. Even if your pet is in a secure, comfortable area, it can cause anxiety in the animal when its owner is not in sight. Taking a pet with you on a trip is a commitment, so consider how much time you will be able to devote to it before deciding to bring it along.

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