Traveling with your best furry friend(s)? Here are some things to know.
First of all, reach out to a few people before your trip — your veterinarian, the airline or travel company, your accommodations (hotel, motel, park, campground, etc.) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Inspection Services to check on state regulations.
Pet packing lists
From there, what should you pack? The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends packing the following items for your pet:
- Prescribed medications, with an adequate supply for the duration of the trip and several days’ surplus (just in case)
- Collar (with license and contact information tags), leash and harness
- Food and cool, fresh water
- Food and water dishes
- Litter and litter box
In addition to the care and feeding items, the AVMA also advises travelers to pack the following documents and info:
- Your veterinarian’s contact information
- List of veterinarians and 24-hour emergency hospitals along the way and close to your destination. Visit the American Animal Hospital Association and the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care for listings
- Contact for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435
Traveling by air? The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends booking a direct flight whenever possible to decrease the chance of your pet being left on the tarmac during extreme weather or mishandled during a layover. Also, visit your veterinarian to ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and obtain any other documents required by your airline or accommodations.
The Humane Society of the United States also recommends carrying a photograph or your pet. If your pet is lost during the trip, the photo will make it easier for others — airline employees, the police, shelter workers and others — to help your best friend.
Prepping your pet for the road
If your pet isn’t used to being in a carrier, the Humane Society recommends acclimating your pet to the carrier in the months or weeks before the trip. If properly introduced, most cats and dogs adjust quickly to car travel.
Let your pet check out the carrier, place food dishes in carrier and confine your pet to the carrier for small amounts of time. Place them in the carrier and take short trips around the neighborhood.
Does your pet get anxious during travel? Visit your veterinarian to discuss techniques or even a prescription to help with anxiety.
And keep in mind that pets get motion sickness, too. The Humane Society recommends packing ice cubes, which are easier on nervous tummies than large amounts of water. Feed them a light mean two to three hours before you drive, or four to six hours before air travel. Provide small amounts of water periodically in the hours before the trip.
Once you’re on the road, stop often to allow your pet to exercise and eliminate — but never allow your pet to leave the car without their collar, ID and leash.
And of course: Don’t ever, ever leave your pet alone in the car. A major hazard is heat: According to the Humane Society, when it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the interior of your car can reach a stifling 116 degrees within an hour. Even on an 85-degree day — with windows slightly open — the temperature in the car can reach 102 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. High temperatures in cars can cause your pet irreversible organ damage and even death.
It may seem with a lot of steps to take, but with careful preparation, you and your pet can comfortably — and safely — see the world.