TRAVELING WITH YOUR PET can be wonderful – a real “trip”! What better way to really connect with your furry companion than to vacation together, and you don’t even have to pack an extra bathing suit for your pet. Of course, sometimes we travel with a pet because we must, like during a cross-country move. Whatever the reason, everybody (including your pet) needs to get to where they are going safe and sound. The most important thing is to make sure your pet does not get lost in some strange city, so here are some important tips for before and during your travels.
No matter how or where you’re traveling, the first rule of thumb is always this: Unless your dog or cat can say “Hi, my name is FiFi and my phone number is…,” please MAKE SURE YOUR PET HAS AS MUCH IDENTIFICATION AS POSSIBLE! Every day, we hear from people whose missing pets did not haveID tags or microchips, and they never dreamed their pets would get lost. If FiFi becomes separated from you while you are on the road, it’s even less likely you’ll be able to find him/her, so proper identification is your only chance of being reunited. Some very important suggestions:
- Make sure to have ID tags on your pet’s collar, and if at all possible, list your cell phone number on them. This way, if your pet gets lost, you can be reached wherever you are.
- Microchip your pet, and submit the microchip registration information so if your pet is scanned, your contact information will be in the database (and make sure to update your information with the microchip company if you move)! That may sound like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised how many people have a microchip placed in their pet and then forget to register their microchip, only to regret it later. Don’t put it off another day�do it now! Collars can slip off, and tags can and do break off collars, especially if your pet escapes through a narrow opening. Microchips offer a more permanent solution for identification.
- Don’t forget to label your pet’s carrier prominently with your name, address, and
AIRLINE TRAVEL TIPS FOR PETS:
If you’re planning an airplane trip with your pet, keep in mind that some airlines don’t allow animals at all, and some only allow pets to travel during certain months, especially if your pet must travel in the cargo container of the plane. These rules are in place for your pet’s safety�in the hottest or coldest months of the year, the cargo hold can be a deadly place for animals. If you have a very small dog or a cat, some airlines will allow you to bring him or her on board with you to be stowed under your seat in a special soft-sided carrier; most airlines only allow a few pets on board at a time, though, so reserve well in advance!
Although air travel for pets is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the International Air Transport Association, each airline also has its own rules and regulations to follow. Most will not allow pets under eight weeks of age or aggressive or ill pets to fly. Check with your airline well in advance of travel to learn their pet-travel policies.
Airline travel for pets is never 100% safe, especially for pets that are checked as baggage. Many animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA and Humane Society of the United States recommend against flying your pet on a commercial airline flight unless he or she is small enough to accompany you on board. If you must fly and place your pet in the cargo hold, please consider the following tips to make your pet’s trip is as safe as possible:
- Consider your flight schedule and any time your pet might be outside being moved in and out of the plane. If you are flying during the winter or summer, schedule flights during the mildest time of the day. In summer, early morning flights are best. In winter, fly during the warmest part of the day and avoid evening and overnight flights. Choose the shortest flight possible.
- Book a direct flight with no layovers or transfers to reduce the chance of your pet being lost or being exposed to harsh conditions on the tarmac.
- When you board the plane, let the cabin crew know that you have a pet traveling in cargo. Ask them to radio down to the loading crew to check that your pet has made it onto the plane! Another reason to notify the cabin crew is that the pilot may be able to control the temperature in the cargo hold to make your pet more comfortable, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
- Your pet’s crate should meet airline requirements and be clearly labeled with the words “LIVE ANIMAL”, with an arrow pointing up. Don’t lock the cage in a way that would prevent a crew member from opening it in case of emergency. Do use a plastic luggage tie to securely fasten the crate door closed so the crate can’t open accidentally during transport (yikes!).
- Don’t feed your pet within three hours of the flight. Make sure to freeze water in the crate’s water dish beforehand and place it in the crate right before you depart. That way, the water will not slosh out of the dish, but will slowly melt over the duration of the flight, giving your pet a constant supply of fresh water.
- Never sedate your pet before a flight without consulting your veterinarian first. While flying is stressful (for humans too), some pets will be fine and sleep through the flight naturally.
- Schedule a checkup with your veterinarian to make sure all shots are up-to-date. Have your veterinarian issue a health certificate dated within ten days of departure, and bring it to the airport in your carry-on along with certificates of vaccination.
- Be sure to remove your pet’s leash so it can’t become tangled in the crate and choke your pet. Also, trim your pet’s nails to keep them from getting caught in the crate.
- Enclose something soft with your scent on it (like a t-shirt you’ve worn for a few hours) in the crate. This can be very reassuring to your pet during during the hours of loud noises and bumping.
- Always travel with a photo of your pet in case he or she becomes lost or you need to identify him or her as yours.
AND HERE ARE SOME OTHER IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIPS:
- Try not to leave pets alone in your hotel room, even if the hotel allows it. No, they won’t make a long-distance call that will show up on your bill! But if your pet gets nervous and agitated and starts to bark or cry, a well-meaning hotel staffer may enter the room to offer comfort. An open door could give your pet the opportunity to escape. If you do need to leave your pet unattended, most cities have doggy daycare services to watch over pets�ask the hotel to help you locate one.
- Never, NEVER leave any pet unattended in a car, even for a short time. If you think it’s safe because your car is in the shade, think again: shade is only temporary! It moves with the sun’s position in the sky or when clouds disperse. It’s also possible that someone might break into your car to steal something- even your pet. NO amount of unsupervised time in the car is ever safe.
- Get the location of emergency vet clinics in your destination city before you leave for your trip and bring the information with you in an easily-accessible place, like your carry-on.
- Travel with a copy of your pet’s vaccination records, just in case you need to place him or her in daycare or he/she requires medical help.
- During car trips, make sure your pet is properly restrained in a carrier or with a harness.
BON VOYAGE! WE WISH YOU AND YOUR PET A SAFE RETURN!
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