Traveling with Pets

Tips on traveling with pets

For many people, a vacation is not fun without their pet. Here are tips from the experts at Purina to help you have an enjoyable vacation with your family pet along for the adventure.

Preparing for a trip

  • Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are current. Plan to carry a copy of the health and rabies certificate with you.
  • Do not feed your pet for at least three hours before a trip. If the trip is a long one, you should provide a snack and water every four hours.
  • If your pet’s usual food will not be available at your destination, take along a supply to avoid digestive upset caused by a sudden diet change.
  • Reserve lodging at a pet-friendly hotel. Once you check in, avoid leaving your pet unattended. Should you need to step out, pets should be confined to a carrier with a “Do Not Disturb” sign posted on the door.
  • Make sure your pet has identification on his collar that includes his name as well as your name, address and telephone number.
  • Carry photographs and a written description of your animal with you. If your pet is lost, these identification aids could be invaluable.
  • Pack grooming equipment, a leash and other pet supplies you may need.

Best results for road trips

  • Pets should be are accustomed to riding in a car. Take short rides to help prepare for long trips. If motion sickness is a problem, consult your veterinarian for a prescription.
  • A carrier helps keep your animal safe. Look for one that is strong and well-ventilated. Place a soft mat or cushion on the carrier floor.
  • Avoid putting the carrier on the sunny side of the car where it could become overheated. Likewise, avoid leaving your pet in a closed car. In extremely hot or cold weather, it could be life-threatening.
  • Be sure to walk a dog before beginning a trip and stop frequently along the way – generally every time you fuel up — to allow him to eliminate.

Traveling by plane

  • Look for an airline with a solid reputation for safely transporting animals. Make your reservation well in advance.
  • Try to avoid flights with delays or stopovers.
  • Check age restrictions. Some airlines do not allow animals less than 8 weeks of age and those not weaned for five days to fly.
  • Be aware that most airlines have temperature restrictions and thus embargo dogs from flying when it is extremely hot or cold to avoid risk of accidents. Note that large breeds typically fly in a temperature-controlled, pressurized cargo compartment under the cabin, whereas smaller dogs and cats are generally permitted to fly in a soft-sided carrier in the cabin.
  • Most airlines require carriers that are large enough for a dog to stand up and turn around. Those made of solid metal or fiberglass are preferred. Travel crates should have a lip around the outside so objects that could cut off air cannot be placed next to the crate. Crates come with air ducts, but holes can be added in the back to increase circulation. Crates should have a “Live Animal” sticker.
  • A dog should be walked in preparation for being crated for a flight, and picked up promptly at the end of the flight.
  • Be sure to have a safety latch on the crate to reduce the risk of airline personnel opening crates. Some dogs would bolt immediately if an unfamiliar person opened their carrier.
  • Place tags on the top of the crate with your assigned seat and contact information directing airline workers to alert you when your dog is secured in the cargo compartment. Animals that fly in cargo are loaded before passengers; if takeoff is delayed, these animals could be at risk. You may need to ask someone to retrieve your animal.

All it takes is love

  • Pet lovers relish every moment with their beloved best friend. They understand that companion animals add immensely to their lives. No wonder more and more people are choosing to travel with their pets.
  • Our dog’s wagging tail or cat’s gentle purr help to improve our psychological health and well-being. Research has shown that positive interactions with animals help to reduce blood pressure, lower anxiety and produce mood-lifting endorphins in the brain.
  • A walk in the park, a hike on a trail or a shared vacation – none would be complete without the family pet. Best of all — In return for our pet’s unconditional love and acceptance, all it takes is love.