Traveling With Your Pet

For many individuals or families, a vacation trip is enhanced by the inclusion of the family dog or cat in travel plans. There are also times when it is inconvenient, or even impossible, to leave the pet behind. With some preplanning, taking your cat or dog along on a trip can be a comfortable and pleasurable experience.

Car Travel With Pets

There are a number of precautions you can take to make a car trip with a cat or dog pleasant and safe.

Before Leaving

First of all, make sure that your pet is in good health by having the animal checked by a veterinarian. It is also important to make sure that the hotel, motel or campground you're heading to will accommodate your pet.

To avoid the losing a pet while vacationing, make sure you have an ID tag on the animal with your cell phone number or email address so you can be contacted while away from home. As a precaution, carry a photo of your pet with you so that you can have others help you search if the animal runs off. If you will be crossing state or country lines, you will need a veterinary health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination.

Remember to pack the essentials your pet requires before leaving, including:

  • Pet food
  • Travel bowls for food and water
  • Bedding
  • Litter supplies or clean-up bags
  • Collar, leash, tags
  • Medications
  • First-aid kit
  • Toys
  • Ample water supply

Restraining your pet in the vehicle will help to keep it safe and to prevent the dog or cat from dangerously distracting the driver. Various crates, carriers, pet car seats, seat belts and pet barriers will keep the animal secure while riding and in case of an accident. Remember to practice using whatever device you choose so your pet is comfortable with it. Never leave an animal loose in the back of a pickup truck.

En Route

Once on the road, following these simple directives from the ASPCA will help to keep your pet safe and happy:

  • Keep all parts of your animal inside the vehicle
  • Stop every few hours for bathroom and exercise breaks
  • Feed your pet minimally during the journey
  • Never leave your animal alone in the vehicle
  • Give your pet water frequently

Airplane Travel With Pets

It is important to do your homework before attempting to take your pet on a flight because regulations vary from one airline to another. Find out where the animal relief areas are at the airport so you'll be prepared if your pet has to relieve itself.

Security Screening

Your animal must be leashed and must either be walked through the metal detector with you or undergo an inspection by security officers. No pet will be placed through an X-ray machine, but you may be asked to hold your dog or cat while its carrier is X-rayed.

Pets in Checked Baggage

Checking in your pet must be done at the ticket counter. Count on it taking extra time and remember that animals will not be accepted more than four hours prior to departure time.

To ensure your pets comfort and safety, make sure:

  • The carrier is roomy enough for the pet to sit, stand and turn around
  • Food and water containers are securely attached to the carrier
  • You have complied with all government requirements
  • You have an up-to-date, original health certificate for your pet

Pets Permitted on Airlines

On many airlines, small pets may be allowed into the plane's cabin, but must be kept in a carrier under the seat. Some airlines may have restrictions against bringing particular breeds on board. The number of pets permitted is also restricted. All airlines maintain the right to refuse boarding an aggressive animal. If you are traveling internationally, it is necessary to check the regulations of the country you are going to, since some nations may not permit pets to enter.

Service Animals

Service animals are not considered pets since they are working to help their disabled owners. Therefore, they are permitted in the cabins of all airlines and do not have to be confined.

Train Travel With Pets

Train travel with pets is not permitted on Amtrak, but some local railroads may permit small pets in carriers on board. Some trains may also permit larger animals that are leashed and muzzled. Service animals are always permitted on public transportation.

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