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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tips for Traveling with Pets

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By Grace Chen

Just as important as your toothbrush and favorite slippers is the travel companionship of your cat or dog. Bringing a pet on vacation is a nice way of adding a homey feel to your summer travel plans, and your pet will love you for it. In addition, you do not have to worry about their loneliness in the kennel or the responsibility of the pet sitter.

However, in order to make the most of the travel experience for the both of you, a few simple precautions should be taken. Before you say “bon voyage,” take a quick trip to your veterinarian and get all shot records for your pet up-to-date, as well as obtain a travel certificate within ten days of any travel abroad. Next, a well-travelled pet will need a travel kit.

Make a pet travel kit, ensuring that it minimally contains the following:

  • Pet identification tagsDog in Car


  • Shot records and travel certificate for foreign travel


  • Your veterinarian’s telephone number and a referral in your destination area(s)


  • Any hard-to-find, special diet food, or treats your pet needs. Don’t assume they sell your pet’s favorite brand in Winnemucca.


  • Any medicine your pet needs. Make sure it is well marked in prescription form with your veterinarian’s information for any foreign travel.

Now you’re ready to make specific plans for the type of transportation you and your pet are taking!

Car Travel

  • Take your pet for short test rides in the car before attempting a long distance trip. This will prepare you and your pet in traveling together, as well as determine propensity for car sickness and your pet’s tolerance for travel. Ask your veterinarian for anti-diarrheal medication for your pet where needed.


  • Purchase a reliable pet car seat to fit in your car.


  • Make sure the vehicle temperature is comfortable to a furry pet.


  • Don’t put your pet in the back of an open vehicle, such as a pick-up. It’s deadly and an accident waiting to happen. In addition, it can cause hypothermia on even a mild day, as well as cause eye infections from debris and dust.

Airplane Travel

  • Your pet must be at least 8 weeks old, as mandated by Federal Law.


  • You must have a valid rabies certificate in addition to the items listed above in your pet travel kit.


  • Your pet must arrive at the airport in an airline approved pet carrier. This carrier must accommodate your pet comfortably. The carrier must be tall enough for your pet to stand, turn around, lie down, and be clearly labeled with a permanent marker or tag system. It must say “live animal” and contain your name, address, telephone, and an upright position arrow.


  • Familiarize your pet with the pet carrier. Several weeks in advance, purchase the pet carrier and leave the door open. Your pet will naturally wander in and out of the carrier and grow accustomed to the environment. Place a familiar blanket, toy, or even an occasional treat to make the carrier feel safe and welcome.


  • Consult your vet for the specific destination laws and requirements.

Train and bus travel with pets is usually prohibited. With the exception of guide dogs, most states prohibit this kind of travel for pets. Ask your destination state, as well as your carrier company, if this applies to your trip.

Summer is your pet’s favorite time too! Allow your traveling pet to get out of the pet carrier every couple hours to enjoy the warm weather and a nice walk on the leash. Remember, your pet is relying on your good, common sense for an enjoyable, safe, and healthy vacation.

Pet crates are recommended for any travel as they protect your pet, confine him or her so your driving is not hindered, and can accommodate an automatic feeder, watering dish, dog bed and pet toys.

Happy (and safe) travels!





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