If you have ever traveled with your cat or dog you must know that it isn’t the easiest endeavor. Besides finding an airline that is pet friendly there is often paperwork and several hoops that must be jumped through that are necessary in order to board the plane without issue. If you are flying internationally then there’s a whole assortment of steps you have to take in order to cover your bases. If you have not traveled with your pet before then hopefully these dog and cat traveling tips will prepare you for any potential issues that can arise.
The first thing to consider is if it is worth the effort to take your pet on your trip with you. Factor in the length of your trip and what will be required in order to bring your fuzzy child along. Most importantly consider the effect it will have on your pet. Does he/she travel well? Will the three days apart be easier than going through all the motions? If it’s a long trip maybe it would be worth it to bring them along for the adventure.
If you’re traveling domestically with your pet you should immediately contact your airline and ask what their specific requirements are. Most often the airline has rules specific to them. Almost every major airline will require a domestic health certificate, signed by your veterinarian, that states that your pet has been examined within a certain period (usually 30 days) and is fit for travel.
Many of them require your pet be in a certain sized carrier. They have to be certain that your pet, in the carrier, will fit under the seat. I learned the hard way that the size of this space can alter depending on the size of the plane your flight is scheduled for. I spent at least an hour on the phone with Delta Airlines customer care team having my flight changed to ensure that the plane I would be flying on would have the appropriate sized space under the seat to fit my cat (Maggie Rooneymara Nilbog-Ackerman IV) in her carrier.
Should I get my pet micro-chipped before I travel?
Consider the possibility that your pet could be lost at some point during your trip and make sure that your pet has a collar and ID tag with your contact information (address and phone number) clearly visible. It’s also a very good idea to have a microchip implanted into your pet (if you haven’t already) which can help locate your pet if he/she is lost at any point during your trip. It’s a quick injection, non-invasive, that can be done when your pet is awake.
If your pet is a nervous traveler discuss with your veterinarian any supplements or medications they might suggest to help keep your pet calm during travel. There are calming supplements that can help your pet without actually having to medicate them. In some cases your pet might need a sedative but this should always be something you discuss with your veterinarian first. Do not attempt to administer medications without discussing with your vet beforehand.
Pack some water if it’s a long flight. You don’t want your dog or cat to get dehydrated. A few treats to reward good behavior couldn’t hurt either. A chew toy or something to keep him or her distracted is always helpful. Don’t forget to pack a leash, some toys, extra water/food bowls, poopy bags, any necessary medications, etc.
If you’re staying at a hotel make sure it is a pet-friendly establishment. A little bit of research goes a long way and you’d rather have things set up in advance than be scrambling to figure them out in a crisis.
Remember that emergencies can happen so it’s also very important to do some research on emergency veterinary hospitals where you’ll be staying just in case your pet begins experiencing symptoms of illness. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your pet’s medical history on hand for this very reason. Save it to your e-mail as a PDF file so it can be easily accessed in an emergency.
How hard is it to traveling internationally?
If you are traveling internationally things get a little more complicated. The rules for international travel are not standard. They vary from country to country and change on a semi-regular basis. In almost every case you will need an international health certificate issued by a USDA certified veterinarian that proves your pet was examined and found fit for travel. Most often this needs to be done within ten days of arrival in your destination country. The vets at University Animal Hospital are USDA certified and fully capable of filling out any documentation required to travel. They are familiar with paperwork necessary and can inform you what you’ll need when trying to get into the country of your destination.
If you are planning on traveling with your pet set up an appointment with one of our doctors to get the process moving and to answer any questions you might have. Let them handle the details and the nightmare of paperwork so you can focus on your trip and the fun things you plan to do, with your dog or cat in tow.