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  • A Short Guide to Traveling with Pets

    by Emily Bergquist

    Traveling with your pets is no easy task. We actually advise you against it unless it’s strictly necessary! Your best option is to organize a pet sitter or leave them with friends and family. But sometimes you have to bring them along, so what should you do? Keep reading!

    We’ll provide you with a ton of tips on how to make your trip as safe and stress-free as possible.

    Golden retriever sticks head out window of car with view of mountains behind

    Before You Travel

    The first thing you should do before traveling with pets is to ensure they are 100% healthy. We suggest you take them to the veterinarian for a full health checkup — our motto is safety first! 

    If your vet okays your trip, then you’re ready to start making travel plans. Here’s what you should do:

    1. Make sure your pet has an ID tag on their collar.
    2. Consider microchipping your furry friend with your contact information for extra peace of mind.
    3. Prep a folder with your pet’s health certificate and all their most important medical documents. You can download and keep your pet’s medical records organized through Pawprint. Double-check if your destination country or state has any other specific requirements. If you’re traveling from, to, or within the United States, check the official recommendations of the US Department of Agriculture.
    4. Get your pet a high-quality carrier. You may want to check the travel requirements of the airlines you regularly use before buying!

    All prepped, it’s time to:

    Setting off With Your Pets

    Right before leaving, always play with your animals and tire them out! 

    A tired animal will be far more likely to relax and sleep through the initial part of the journey, which is often the most stressful.

    We’ve broken down the rest of our tips by transportation type, so scroll down to find the relevant one!

    Black, white, and tab colored dog runs with tongue out and is captured in side mirror of a car.

    By Car

    • If possible, use a car that your pet is already familiar with — it’ll relax them!
    • Place your pet’s travel carrier in the back seat and buckle them up.
    • Don’t let your pet wander around freely in the car.
    • You may get the urge to hold your pet in your lap or in your arms as you travel — DON’T!
    • Keep your pet fully inside of the car at all times — a dog hanging out of a moving vehicle might look adorable, but it’s very dangerous!
    • Take plenty of rest stops.
    • Never leave your animals alone in the car.

    By Plane (in the Cabin)

    • Take a non-stop flight if available.
    • Avoid flying if you have cats and dogs with a ‘snub-nose’ (i.e., a bulldog or a Persian cat).
    • Book your pet’s spot with your airline as early as possible as spaces are limited.
    • Pick a midweek flight at an inconvenient time (and avoid holidays).
    • Head to the airport’s pet relief station for a well-deserved play and bathroom break.
    • Never place your pet in the overhead bin. Either put them down under the seat in front of you or in a designated area (if available on your airline).
    • Give your pet an ice cube or a bit of water during takeoff to help unpop clogged ears.
    • Try out the ThunderShirt, or a calming aid supplement  if your dog or cat suffers from anxiety.

    By Plane (in the Cargo Hold)

    • We do not recommend traveling with pets in the plane’s cargo, and you should only pick this option if you have no other choice!
    • Avoid traveling when it’s too cold or too hot, as dogs and cats may suffer a thermal shock.
    • If possible, take a non-stop flight, and if it’s not, minimize the number of airlines you use to reduce the risk of your pet getting mishandled or lost.
    • Get a sturdy dog crate large enough for your pet to comfortably turn around in.
    • Clearly label your pet’s crate with a large ‘live animal‘ sticker and your contact information.
    • Put ice cubes in the crate’s water bowl, so your pet doesn’t get wet during takeoff but can still stay hydrated during the flight.
    • Travel on the same plane as your pet and ask the gate agent to notify you or the cabin crew once your pet is safely in the cargo hold.

    By Train

    • Make sure your chosen train services allow pets (most do in Europe and the United States).
    • Always keep your pet safely in their carrier while traveling on a train.
    • Split your journey up by stopping often at various intermediate stations. 
    Two black Shepherds stand in wheat field with tongues out smiling at camera

    Final Thoughts on Traveling with Pets

    Traveling with pets is never easy, and as we suggested earlier it should only be considered if absolutely necessary. 

    If you can’t avoid taking your pet with you, then carrying out a good amount of research and being prepared will make the whole process much less stressful for both you and your furry friend!

    About the Author

    Donna is the owner and lead author over at littlefurrypets.com. “Our aim is to provide our readers with an extensive online resource for all aspects of pet care and ownership, and have a little fun along the way!”

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