68% of U.S. households, about 85 million families, own a pet, according to a survey by the American Pet Products Association. When it comes to taking a vacation, pet owners are faced with two choices: either leave their beloved pet in the care of someone else, or bring them along on the journey. Before you start packing up the pet food, be sure to read up on our tips for pet travel.
Prior to the Trip
Before booking your flight or accomodations, consider whether or not your pet is fit for travel. Especially if they’ve never traveled before, they will be exposed to a completely different environment with new sights, scents and noises. The overstimulation, all while being confined to their carrier, could cause your pet a great deal of distress and discomfort. We suggest taking these initial steps:
- ✈️🚗 Consult with your veterinarian about whether or not it would be safe to travel with your pet. Based on age, breed, or existing conditions, it might be ill advised to take your pet with you. Breeds that are brachycephalic, or having “pushed in faces,” are particularly at risk when it comes to air travel.
- ✈️🚗 Establish your pet’s carrier as a safe, positive space. Invest in a comfortable carrier and give your pet the chance to investigate it thoroughly. Leave some treats and their favorite toys inside.
- 🚗Create a practice environment. For example, if you are traveling by car, take your pet along for short rides to start. This is a golden opportunity to learn if your pet becomes motion sick and to discuss options with your veterinarian.
Preparing to Travel
Should your pet prove to be travel-ready, we recommend adding these to your to-do list:
- ✈️🚗 Consult with your veterinarian about getting any necessary shots, blood tests, certifications or permits. This is especially important for international travel.
- ✈️🚗 Equip your pet’s collar with an up-to-date ID tag, as well as a tag with the location and phone number of your temporary stay. Depending on your destination, a microchip may also be required.
- ✈️ 🚗Consider the comfort of your pet. Minimize travel time by opting for direct flights when possible, and utilize layover times for bathroom breaks. For car travel, plan on making rest stops for bathroom and hydration breaks.
- Book pet friendly accommodations (hotel or otherwise).
Transit Safety Precautions
Above all else, it is essential to look after your furry friend’s safety by doing the following:
- ✈️🚗Avoid feeding your pet prior to travel, or provide a light meal if you must. Especially if your pet gets motion sick, a heavy meal will likely cause an upset stomach and a huge mess.
- ✈️ Keep extra food and toys in your carry-on, just in case there are delays. This could also be a lifesaver if your checked baggage gets lost in transit.
- 🚗Use a pet seat belt to keep your pet safe and secure while in motion. Do not let your pet roam free throughout a vehicle in motion. Not only could this be a distraction, but in the event of an accident your pet is at increased risk for injury.
- 🚗Regulate the temperature as much as possible to keep your pet comfortable. Pets are more limited in their ability to regulate their body temperature. Excessive panting is an indicator that they are too hot, while shivering is an indicator of being too cold.
- 🚗Don’t ever leave your pet unattended in a vehicle. Humane Society writes, “On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. Even if you’re certain of your timing, you can get held up — in just 30 minutes, you could return to a 120 degree car and a pet suffering irreversible organ damage or death.”
Make sure to pack a Pet Dental Kit for your trip, as it is essential to regularly brush your pet's teeth to avoid plaque and tartar buildup. You’ll be thankful for your furry friend’s pearly whites and kissable breath when it’s time for family vacation photos.