With summer behind us and back to school in full swing, many people are planning a quick weekend away or anticipating holiday travel. If you want to include your pet in your adventures, follow these tips to make you and your pet's travel experience go as smooth as possible. By doing a little pre-departure planning and preparation, you can make sure traveling with your furry friend doesn't turn your trip into a disaster.
• Attach an identification tag to your pet and if possible get an embedded identification microchip
• Bring proof of rabies vaccination and a current health certificate when crossing borders of states or countries
• Bring a printed photograph of your pet to help in identification if your pet gets lost
• Pack a travel kit with food, toys, dishes, leashes, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid items
If your pet isn't used to being in a car, take her on a few short rides before your trip to reduce fear and stress. Just like people, pets too can suffer from motion and carsickness, so talk to your veterinarian about medication if this seems to be a problem for your pet. To help your pet feel more at home on the trip, bring along a favorite blanket or toy.
Never leave your pet unattended in a car, especially when it's hot outside. Both cats and dogs should be put in a carrier or crate when in a car. This will help them feel safe and secure, and keep them from crawling around and distracting the driver. The carrier or crate itself should be secured to the car. If left unsecured, it can slide around on turns and curves or fly up on bumps, endangering both the pet and driver. Never let your dog sit on your lap while driving and don't let them ride in the passenger seat if your car is equipped with an airbag. Most pet stores carry harnesses and tethers specifically for travel that can help you keep your dog secure and out of your way while driving. If you have to put your dog in the bed of a truck, put them in a kennel secured to the truck bed. Also, even though your pet might like to feel her ears flapping in the wind, don't let her put her head outside the window since dirt and debris flying in the air can cause injury or infection.
During your car trip, feed your pet a light meal three to four hours before leaving. Serve your pet her main meal at the end of the day or when you get to your destination. Bring along a jug of cold water in case it isn't available or to prevent your dog from getting an upset stomach. On long trips you can feed your pet small portions of food and water. Be prepared to stop every two hours for exercise.
Travel by Air
With crowded airports and many safety regulations, flying with pets is often a major concern for pet owners. Many airlines have different policies on pet transportation, so be sure to check when booking your flight. Most policies can be found on airlines' websites or by calling their customer service number. In general, airlines require you to have a certificate of veterinary inspection issued within 10 days of when you're traveling and pets must be at least eight weeks old and weaned five days before flying. Before traveling internationally talk to your veterinarian, your state's USDA Veterinary Services Area Office and your destination country's embassy or consulate about travel restrictions.
According to the Animal Welfare Act airlines can't ship dogs and cats if the they can't prevent exposing the animal to temperatures less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit or more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 45 minutes when moving them from the plane to the terminal and for four hours when in a holding area. However, if your pet can stand the exposure this requirement can be waived by getting an acclimation certificate from your veterinarian. If you can, book a nonstop flight, avoid plane changes and busy holidays. During warm weather months choose flights in early morning or late evening, and in colder months choose midday flights.
• Reconfirm your flight a day in advance to make sure there aren't any flight changes
• Get to the airport early, exercise your pet and personally place her in her crate
• Leave a leash or harness on your pet in case you need to remove her from the crate at security to reduce risk of escape
• It's usually suggested for pets to fly on an almost empty stomach, but talk to your veterinarian for specific recommendations
• Tranquilizers can increase the risk of respiratory and heart problems
• When you board let the flight attendant know your pet is in the cargo hold
• If your pet is traveling with you in the cabin, try to arrange to check-in as late as possible to spend less time in crowded terminals
To reduce the possibility of escape and injury make sure your kennel:
• is large enough for your pet to stand, sit, turn around and lie down
• latches securely
• is strong, free of interior protrusions and has handles and grips
• has a solid bottom that is leak proof and covered with absorbent material
• is labeled with your name, home address, home phone number, destination contact information and "Live Animals" with arrows indicating upright position.
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