How To Travel with Your Pet Over the Holidays
Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa and other holidays are here and you are making plans to see family and celebrate with loved ones; but what do you do about your beloved pets? As a pet owner, you probably feel guilty at the thought of spending the holidays without your best friend.
Numerous pet owners put off their travel plans because they can't bear the thought of their favorite fur baby being left behind; leaving them at a kennel, cat hotel or even with a caring friend. You may have fun visiting relatives and celebrating the season, but you'll also be missing your pets terribly if you leave them alone at home.
But, what if you could take them with you and travel with your pet?
You have probably seen all those videos of pet owners taking their animals along on the most fun adventures. That can be you and your pet too!
However, it is important to do some due diligence and go over all the pet travel essentials before you decide to take your animal companion along on your next trip. Today, we'll cover everything you should know about traveling with a pet and offer you some tried-and-tested tips to make this a wonderful experience!
Traveling With a Pet - Everything You Want to Know Before You Go
Before we dive into all the great tips for making traveling with your pet over the holidays easier, it's important to first determine if this is even the best thing for your pet.
Whether you travel with your pet by car, train or plane, there will be more people travelling and also lots of noise and activities when you get to your destination, so if your pet is older, gets anxious easily, or is more sensitive to noise then no matter how much you want to spend the holidays with your pup or kitty, the best choice may actually be to leave them at home with someone you trust.
Only you can make that decision for your pet.
So read through the following tips to help you better understand what is involved and then you can make the right choice for you and your pet.
Okay, assuming you are ready to take your pet with you on your trip, here are the things you'll need:
2. Get Health Clearance From the Vet
Another factor to consider is your pet's health. Along with making sure they’re up for the trip, you should check if they can handle the stress and long hours in the car or plane that come with traveling.
Before planning out a trip with your pet, you should make an appointment with your vet and request they conduct all the necessary tests. Only once your vet has given your pet proper health clearance should you start to plan the trip. Ask your vet about a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection which will be your proof that your pet is healthy to travel and does not show any signs of disease that could infect other animals or people.
3. Get the Necessary Documentation
Regardless of whether you plan to travel across states or international borders, you will need some form of documentation to ensure smooth traveling with a pet.
For starters, carry proof of rabies vaccination everywhere you go. Some states require an up-to-date Certificate of Veterinary Inspection when traveling; which you can get from your vet. You should also have health certificates, pet passports, and different forms of identification with you.
If you are flying internationally, check with the country you are traveling to for any requirements they may have for pets coming into the country.
Keeping Your Pets Safe When Traveling
As much as we don't want to think of anything happening to our beloved pets, it is better to always be prepared before hand - just in case.
It is important to keep in mind that pets can get easily spooked in new, unfamiliar areas. This makes them more likely to hide or run away in hopes of finding their home. While the chances of pets coming back on their own are high in your hometown, the opposite is true when you're traveling to a new location. Your pet wouldn't be able to recognize the scents and sights, so they won't be able to sniff their way back to you.
To reduce the risk of losing your pet while traveling, it is best to ensure that they can be properly identified. In case they do make a run for it. The following forms of identification can increase the chances of finding your pet in a foreign city:
4. Get a collar with Identification cards
Firstly, you want to make sure your dog has a super sturdy leash and collar. If you plan to travel with your cat, you should invest some time in leash training them as well. It'll make the whole trip easier for you and a lot more fun for your feline friend.
Check that your pet's collar has identification tags with its name on them. The tags should also include your full name, home phone number, and contact number to reach you at the travel destination. For extra measure, you can also include proof of rabies shot on your dog's collar to increase the chances of people rescuing and returning them to you.
5. Microchip your Pets
While identification tags do work well, an even better way of identifying your pet is to microchip them. Microchipping not only helps in identifying your cat or dog, but it also lets you track their exact location so you can be reunited with them in no time.
A study by the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that microchipped dogs are twice as likely to be reunited with their owners as non-microchipped ones.
For cats, the chances of a reunion are 20 times higher!
6. Carry a Recent Picture of Your Pet
I am sure you have lots of photos of your fur baby on your phone, but it is also important to have a photo with you in it.
If the locals do end up rescuing your pet, they will want proof of ownership before handing it back to you. The same applies to any shelters or rescue homes that may take in a lost pet.
Traveling Internationally with Your Pet
Regardless of whether you are crossing the land border on your vacation, or flying across to the other side of the world there are certain requirements you need to be aware of.
If you are flying, check with the airline to make sure that your cat or dog can travel in the airplane cabin with you, or they will need to be placed in a special area on the plane. Some airlines can even restrict how many pets may travel in the cabin or on a particular flight, and they may have certain flights on which no pets can fly in the cabin. Book your travel early to ensure a spot for your cat or dog.
When choosing your plane seat, be aware that you will not be able to sit in an exit row nor against a bulkhead (there must be a seat in front of you for the carrier). Try to travel non-stop if possible as layovers and transfers only add to what will be a long day for both you and your pet.
Requirements for animals leaving the U.S.
While the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) doesn't have any particular requirements for pets leaving the country, most countries around the world do have their own rules and regulations about animals entering.
If you are flying, different airlines may also have different regulations for letting a dog or cat onboard a plane. Don't be caught off guard, do your research before hand to ensure all the requirements are met for your cats, dogs, or other pets.
Requirements for animals arriving to the U.S.
Whether you're returning to the U.S. from a vacation with your pet or you'll be arriving in the country for the first time, there are some requirements to take into consideration .
For starters, all dogs and cats arriving in the U.S. must have a clean bill of health. They must look physically healthy and have the required documents from the vet to prove this. Moreover, different states across the U.S. require different vaccinations and health certificates, which you can learn about on the US Department of Agriculture website here..
Plus if your dog is a working breed, you should look up any additional restrictions found on the US Department of Agriculture site above before planning your travels. You'll want to make sure your pet would be welcomed in the before you plan to travel.
P.S. The U.S. has recently put up a temporary suspension for pets arriving from countries that are labeled as high risk for rabies by the CDC. Make sure the country you're traveling from doesn't fall on this list beforehand.
Another tip is to practice getting your pet to go into and out of the travel carrier. Make this as routine a process as possible as this could be important during security screening.
Once your pet is fully comfortable in the carrier, you can practice taking them outdoors in it. This will teach them to feel safe in their carrier in different environments.
8. Pack A Pet Travel Kit
Just like you pack your own travel kit with toiletries and other important stuff, you will also need to pack a bag with some pet travel essentials. These include collapsible water bowls, some dry food, a safety harness and leash, waste bags, and anything else your pet uses on a daily basis.
Don’t forget to take all their medications, homeopathic remedies and supplements. You won't be always be able to get a refill while you are gone so make sure that you have enough on hand before you go to last the whole time you’ll be away.
You should also throw in some comfort items like your pet's favorite toy to help soothe their nervousness during the journey as well as when you get to your ultimate destination.
Animal behavior experts recommend traveling with your pet's bedding placed in the carrier to calm them down and help them relax. Basically, you should do everything you can to help your pet feel like they're in a familiar space.
Lastly, make sure that all the spots on your itinerary are pet-friendly and that the location you're traveling to has a reputation for being kind and compassionate to animals. It is the best way to ensure that you and your pet have a blast together as you travel to new destinations and explore the world!
As long as you confirm that your pet will be happy and welcome wherever you go on your trip, there’s nothing stopping you from bringing them along. Stay safe together and enjoy the ride.
We wish you happy and safe travels with your best bud!