Preparing to Travel with Your Pet

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kitten in a suitcase5 Tips for Traveling with Your Pet
By American Red Cross

Each year millions of Americans hit the road or hop a plane in search of relaxation, adventure, or just some peaceful time with distant relatives. Our tips can help you plan your next trip with your four-legged friend.

  1. Consider all your options – including leaving your pet at home.

Before taking your pet on vacation, consider the pet’s health, age, whether your pet likes to travel, where you’ll be staying, and the time of year. For example, perhaps your pet does fine on short day or weekend trips, but longer trips would cause anxiety and stress.  Always do what’s best for your pet.

  1. Know what to pack.

If you decide to bring your pet on your trip, you need to pack for your pet, just as you pack for yourself. The essentials include medications and medical records, food and bowls, a pet First Aid kit, bedding, leash, collar and tags, grooming supplies, current pet photo (in case your pet gets lost), a favorite toy or two, a sturdy and well ventilated carrier, litter and a litter box (for cats). To make things easier, have one bag or small suitcase just for your pet’s supplies.

  1. Get your pet’s papers and medications in order.

Before any trip, have your pet examined by your veterinarian. Get any required legal travel documents (for air travel, contact the airlines for specifics that you’ll need), make sure vaccinations are up to date, and get any medications your pet might need during the trip. If you’re giving your pet medication specifically for travel, test them on your pet several days in advance to ensure that your pet doesn’t suffer any adverse side effects.

  1. Know the rules of the road.

If you’ll be traveling by car, build frequent stops into the trip so that your pet will be able to stretch his legs and have a drink of water. All cats should be in a crate or carrier and dogs can be either in crate or carrier, or restrained in a special harness that attaches to the seat belt. Although most dogs love to ride with their head out the window, don’t allow it; they could get hurt by flying debris.

  1. Make the skies pet friendly.

Although thousands of pets fly on airlines without problems, there are definitely some risks. Therefore, don’t fly with your pet unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you decide that air travel is necessary, make your travel arrangements well in advance and ask about all regulations, including any quarantine requirements at your destination. If your pet is small, you may be able to carry him or her onboard with you (in a crate—check airline rules). If your pet must travel in the luggage or cargo area, take a direct flight, travel on the same flight as your pet, don’t travel when temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and ask to watch your pet being loaded and unloaded. If the plane has to taxi for a longer than normal time, ask that a temperature check be taken on the cargo area. Pets have been harmed because cargo area temperatures got too hot or too cold while the airplane taxied.

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