Many pets, such as cats and dogs, are considered part of the family. Thus, it is not uncommon for these furry companions to accompany their families on trips. Here are some suggestions that can help ease the process of traveling with pets.
Things to know up front…
Before traveling, get a full medical evaluation for your pet that proves them healthy enough to travel. Ask your vet for pet travel tips to ensure your pet receives the best care during your trip. This can include questions about your pet’s diet and water requirements during travel, pet potty breaks, medications, treatments, and vaccinations that can protect them from harm. If time in a pet carrier is required, ascertain the length of time your pet can remain inside and determine how many breaks are necessary. Carry proof that pets are up to date on vaccinations and other health treatments. Keep extra copies of your pet’s health records with you, in case you are unexpectedly required to provide documentation, or should you need to visit a different vet at a new destination. It’s a good idea to keep a back-up copy of your pet’s health records on your phone. This can come in handy should paper copies be lost or misplaced. Be sure to carry your pets’ medications on you, rather than pack it in luggage that can be lost, stolen, or delayed.
For safety while traveling in moving motor vehicles, pets should not be permitted to roam freely or ride on the driver’s lap. Just like humans, they should be properly strapped in to lessen chances of injury or interference on the road. Pets should be secured in a crash-tested safety harness and be seated in a containment device deemed safe for essential travel. Be sure to consider your pet’s size and comfort when deciding upon a device in which to secure your pet. Options can include well ventilated covered carriers that connect to the pet and to the vehicle, strength-rated crates that have strong straps for keeping pets secure, and anchored car seats which offer crash protection. Pets should not be placed in the front seat due to airbags that can harm them. Bring along pet supplies, such as a collapsible travel water bowl to keep your furry one hydrated, food and meds, a pet first aid kit, pet cleaning wipes, dog poop bags, walking harness, leash and more. Consider frequent stops which are dependent upon the duration of your trip and your pet’s needs for breaks. If your pet is not used to riding in the car, acclimate your pet to your vehicle and take the pet for short rides over time to make him or her feel comfortable before a long trip.
Note that countries, airlines, ships, and trains can establish their own requirements for travel. And regulations can rapidly change due to Covid-19. A travel agent can be a great resource for pet travel information. For independently planned trips, familiarize yourself with the requirements of your destination country. Regarding pet entry, many countries require health certificates done by accredited veterinarians, import permits, and related documentation. Some countries require that pets be vaccinated and microchipped. They may even require additional fees be paid and/or enforce a pet quarantine period. Many countries also have a ban on specific breeds. For example, Pitbull breeds are not allowed to land on Antigua or Barbuda. Individual airlines also have their own sets of rules, some of which may relate to a pet’s size, breed, season of travel and more. Prices for traveling with a pet may also vary from airline to airline, so it’s best to shop around and know the rules before paying. Some airlines allow small pets to be contained in a pet crate and placed by the traveler’s feet. Pets should never be placed in the above-head cargo area. Should concerns pop-up suddenly while boarding your flight, consult a flight attendant.
Giving your pet comfort
The goal of traveling with a pet is to keep them safe, secure, and comfortable while in transit. Sometimes something as simple as bringing along your pet’s favorite blanket or toy can deliver comfort during travel. Also, have a plan. Since travel can disrupt a pet’s eating and drinking cycle, ask your vet when it’s best to feed and hydrate your pet to avoid an upset tummy. All pets should be watched closely during travel. Pets are susceptible to heatstroke and other weather-related conditions, so it’s important to continually monitor your pet to make sure they are safe. And pets traveling should wear a collar with tags and/or be microchipped as a precaution. This is important should you become separated. Before your trip, exercise your pet well so that when it’s time to go, they are relaxed and ready for the journey. And remember not to stress, because pets can absorb their owner’s energy, and this can make or break your trip.