Planning a summer vacation can be an exciting task for you and the entire family. Travelers are including their pets in summer travel plans more often. If you are bringing your furry friend along for the ride, here are a few things to consider to make the trip easier on your pet.
Hitting the Road?
If you are taking a road trip with your pet, don’t forget to take a trial run first. Bring your pet along with you on more local car trips to see how they respond in different situations. Additionally, make sure you have options to ensure your pet is safely secured within your vehicle. For smaller dogs and cats, always have them secured in a carrier. For larger dogs, a crate in the back of the car that is secured is preferable. Pet seat belts or restraints are also an option.
Depending on the length of your trip, plan out stops so that your pet has ample opportunities to use the restroom and stretch their legs. Some rest stops and larger gas stations even have doggy play areas! Don’t forget to allow pets to hydrate while traveling – and if traveling during regular meal times, make sure they are able to eat.
Lastly, consider car temperatures! Never leave your pet unattended in a warm car. Temperatures inside a parked car can reach 20-30 degrees higher than outside, and can quickly become deadly for a pet.
Flying with a pet is more popular than ever. Some airlines are even doing more to accommodate pets, but there are still a few things to keep in mind if you are taking off with your pet in tow.
First, always make sure your pet is in good health before flying. If your pet is very young or old, or has a particularly fragile medical condition, it may be best to leave them at home.
Second, do your research first regarding airline fees and policies – you might be surprised at how quickly they can add up. Some airlines charge extra for bringing pets and others will consider your pet carrier as a “checked bag.” Take a close look at your airlines’ pet policies.
If you are heading out of country, pay close attention to laws regarding vaccinations and medical records needed prior to bringing your pet. Some countries (and Hawaii) even require quarantine periods.
If you are taking your pet across state or international borders, a health certificate may be required. The health certificate must be signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian (your personal vet is likely accredited, but check with them ahead of time) after they have examined your pet, determining that it is free of infectious diseases, and satisfies all of the import requirements of the state, territory, or country. It should be noted that international travel often requires USDA endorsement, which involves mailing the health certificate for a signature from a USDA veterinarian. Therefore, if you are planning to travel internationally with your pet, it is important that you begin to investigate the requirements of your destination country and make arrangements with your veterinarian well in advance of your planned travel. The individual timing for when the health certificate has to be signed, vaccinations need to be updated, or blood work needs to be checked can vary widely based on your destination. Some valuable resources to help you with your individual travel circumstances include:
- www.aphis.usda.gov (Go to “travel with a pet” and select from various options related to your travel scenario)
Keep your pet safe – no matter how you are traveling
Whether you are driving or flying with your pet, there are some common things to always do beforehand.
- Ensure your pet’s ID tags are current and that your pet is micro chipped with updated contact information
- Consult with your veterinarian about your plans
- If your pet gets nervous while traveling, consider a calming supplement to ease their worries
- Bring your pet’s favorite toys or blanket as a familiar reminder of home
Ensuring your pet’s well-being while traveling can help make your summer trip the best one yet. As always, if you have more questions regarding things to consider when bringing your pet along on trips, talk to your veterinarian.