Holiday Travel With Your Pet

Traveling for the holidays? If you are traveling with your pet, it is important to take these tips into consideration so that everyone is safe, happy, and comfortable.

  • Regardless of how you travel, you should always have proper identification on your pet and your pet’s carrier. You should also have your pet’s medical records, along with a current photo of your pet. If you have not microchipped your furry friend, then you need to do so, and make sure that your contact information is current. Are your vaccines up to date? If you cross into another state, you are legally required by the US Department of Agriculture to have a health certificate issued by your veterinarian. This certificate is usually valid for 30 days and certifies that your pet is free of diseases.
  • Do not forget medications! If your furry friend is on medications, make sure that you have them with you and you have an adequate amount to last for the duration of your trip. Do not give tranquilizers unless they are prescribed by your veterinarian. If you are giving some type of medication for travel that you have never used before, it would be wise to try it before the day of the trip.
  • If you plan to use a crate or carrier for the first time, take the time to get your pet accustomed to it prior to travel. Consider adding a favorite blanket or toy to make it more comfortable and familiar.
  • Pets should never roam in the car. The Humane Society of the United States recommends travel by carrier or crate for all pets. Most cats are not comfortable traveling in a car, so for their safety and yours, keep them in a carrier. It is also important to find a way to keep the crate or carrier from moving. If you choose not to crate Fido, consider using dog restraints or seat belts and consider keeping him out of the front seat. If an airbag deploys while your pet is in the passenger seat, it might injure your pet.
  • Allow for frequent stops to allow for exercise and potty breaks. Make sure your pet is on a leash and has proper identification before leaving the car. And make sure to clean up after your pet! And when you stop, do not leave your pet unattended for extended periods of time. They are susceptible to winter temperatures just as they are in summer. They can also be a target for theft.
  • Plan ahead. Make sure that where you are staying allows you to bring your pet.
  • If you must travel by air, choose the cabin if at all possible. It is also important to check in advance with the airline for their requirements. Will you need a specific type of carrier? Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements? If you cannot take your pet in the cabin, does the airline have any restrictions on transporting your pet in the cargo hold? (Be aware of the dangers of flying your pet in the cargo area.) And always travel on the same flight as your pet.
  • Want to travel by train? Be aware that Amtrak does not accept pets unless they are assistance dogs. There are a few trains that allow only dogs and cats, but there are strict guidelines. Visit this site for more information:

Happy holidays and safe travels!

(Information provided by Petfinder, Travel Channel, and the Humane Society of the United States)