Tips For Traveling With Your Pet

Labor Day week-end and the holidays are fast approaching and most holidays involve travel. Good preparation is key for a safe and hassle free trip especially if your travel plans include taking your pet.

First, realistically assess your pet and your destination: Are they compatible? Is your pet healthy enough to travel? If you have any doubts about either answer then it’s better to leave your pet at home. Your best course of action is to hire a pet sitter or board your animal at a kennel.

Make sure your pet is current on all their vaccinations especially if you and your pet are traveling by air. Not all airlines require a health certificate for pets traveling in the cabin with you so it is best to do your homework as part of your preparation. You will be asked by the ticketing agent to provide the necessary document(s).

All domestic airlines require current health certificates for checked pets, current meaning issued within 30 days of your flight. The 30 day window must cover your return flight as well. The usual recommendation is to get the certificates 10 days prior to departure.

Remember each state has their own rules for pets entering and traveling in their particular state. When traveling by car it might seem unnecessary to obtain the health certificate. With the expense to receive a health certificate at approximately $30 it is a wise investment and it could save you a lot of hassle later on.

Another concern is that many pets get separated from their human companions while traveling. If your pet has not been already microchipped consider having it done. Microchipping is safe, quick, inexpensive and invaluable in the event that your pet ever gets lost. Microchips can be read at animal shelters, kennels, and animal hospitals nationwide thereby increasing the chances of a safe return.

Use a secure carrier for your pet to travel in. It needs to be large enough so that your pet can stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. It is also important to secure the carrier in the vehicle and not allow your pet to roam freely. Airplanes vary and so do the pet carrier specifications for under the seat space. When traveling by air confirm that your pet carrier meets the size constraints.

On your trip bring along a recent photograph and a written description of your pet that includes name, sex, breed and any tattoo and microchip numbers. This will increase your chances of your pet’s safe return should the unthinkable happen.

Print your pet’s name and your name and address and phone number on the outside of the carrier; don’t forget to include both your home and your destination address. It is important to make sure that your pet is comfortable being in a carrier before you start the trip.

There are a few items that you can bring that will make trip easier on everyone. An old blanket works well to put down under the carrier and two old sheets can be used to cover furniture and bedding at your destination. It doesn’t hurt to bring carpet cleaner, old towels and trash bags for accidents and a lint roller can be your best friend. These items make clean up easier and your host will greatly, greatly appreciate it.

Prepare well and travel smart. May you and your pet have many happy trips together.

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