What to Know When Traveling With Pets
Veterinarian Reviewed on December 17, 2016 by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM
Posted in General
Traveling with pets can be a stressful ordeal if you aren’t prepared, especially when a plane is involved. Different airlines have varying rules about breed restrictions and carrier sizes, so it’s important to do thorough research before embarking on any trip with an animal.
Your pet’s comfort and safety is also a concern, so it’s imperative to speak with your veterinarian about what’s best as far as travel conditions and let him know what your destination is. Some pets who aren’t accustomed to very cold or hot weather may become physically ill or lethargic when introduced to these changes, or they may exhibit signs of stress or anxiety.
Here are some of the best tips on how to get through a trip with your pet while keeping them safe and happy.
Get the right carrier
Check with your airline about breed restrictions and carrier sizes. Your pet will need to be able to stand up, lie down, and turn around inside the cage, and many airlines have a maximum height and length.
Make sure you book your flight as early as possible, because airlines only have so many spots for pets and they may not be able to accommodate you if you wait until the last minute. Speak with someone who is knowledgeable about pet policies to ensure there will be no surprises at the terminal.
Prepare your pet
Take your dog for an extra-long walk or run before the trip to help them get out some energy. If they are not used to traveling, place the carrier on the floorboard of your car–or in the back of a truck or SUV if the carrier is too big–and let them get in when they’re ready. Then, take them for a leisurely drive so they can get used to the feeling of motion.
Pack one bag just for your pet that includes favorite toys, food and bowls, treats, leash, bedding, medication, and paperwork. That way, you won’t have to dig through your own belongings to find something specific. Invest in a small collapsible bowl that can be filled with water so you can make your pet comfortable in their carrier.
Consider other options
Some pets just don’t agree with traveling, and that’s okay. Every animal is different. For some, the anxiety is overwhelming. Speak with your vet about taking a trip and, if the two of you decide it’s just not in the cards, consider boarding your animal. You might be able to find a luxury pet kennel that gives puppy massages, but if that’s not what you’re looking for, there are plenty of dog sitting services. Pet parents can meet with a local individual who is looking to make some extra money and is willing to take in an animal for a short time; if you decide they’re right for the job, you’ll be able to relax knowing your pet is in good hands.
Sign up for our newsletter and receive more articles and the latest pet health updates and special offers.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan