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By Lauren Means

We love our pets and want them to experience life with us. They want to spend their life with us. What better way to make memories than by traveling to see the world (or at least parts the country)? Here are a few travel tips to help you and your pet get to your next destination.

General

  • Have your pet microchipped for identification in case they slip your guard. Also ensure they have on a collar with a tag imprinted with your home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your cell phone, destination phone number and any other relevant contact information.
  • Create a travel kit for your pet. It should include travel papers, vaccination and medical records, food, water, bowls, leash, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, treats, medication and a pet first-aid kit. You may also want to include a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity.
  • Motion sickness is a real possibility when traveling, especially for dogs. Consult with your vet on proper treatments and remedies prior to travel.
  • Most importantly, if your pet does not travel well and/or has travel anxiety, leave them at home with a trusted caregiver. This should be an enjoyable experience for you and your pet.

Plane

  • According to the Humane Society of the United States, air travel can be risky for pets. They recommend you weigh all the risks when deciding whether to transport your pet by airplane. 
  • If you fly, choose the cabin for your crated pet when possible. 
  • Be sure to contact your airline prior to travel to advise them you will be bringing a pet and to get specifics for that airline on how pets can travel. 
  • Make sure your pet’s collar and the carrier is labeled with your name, permanent address, telephone number, and your final destination.
  • If you travel by air and your pet must fly in the cargo hold, please visit https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/travel-safely-your-pet-car-airplane-ship-or-train for a complete list of tips to follow.

Train

  • Amtrac has begun allowing personal pets to travel on some train routes. Before booking a ticket, contact your travel line to find out if they accept pets for travel and if there are any restrictions.
  • Make sure you choose a route that allows for appropriate bathroom breaks.
  • Most train lines that allow pets only allow them if they are contained in a crate. Make sure your pet can handle long periods of time in a crate prior to the trip. 

Automobile

  • Although dogs love to ride with the wind in their ears, the safest place for a dog in the car is in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. You could also invest in a secure harness/seatbelt that locks into your car’s seatbelt. The former provides more safety in the event of an automobile crash.
  • Cats should always be in a carrier. It’s important to secure the carrier with a safety belt so it won’t shift and bounce during the trip.
  • Take smaller trips in the car as a test drive before the longer trips to acclimate your pet to travel.
  • Be sure to take plenty of potty breaks and rest stops. This will allow pets to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and hydrate. This also gives you a break and time to bond with your pet.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in the vehicle. A car can warm up quickly, even in cooler weather or when parked in a shady spot. And a car can turn into a freezer in cold weather.
  • Much like changing a dog’s food quickly can upset their stomach, so can drinking water from an unfamiliar source. So bring your own water if possible for the car ride.