Safety Tips for Traveling with a Pet

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pet travelTraveling with pets can be tricky, and most travelers leave them behind to avoid worrying about the safety of their furry (or scaly) friend. However, considering that your pet is very likely considered part of the family, there’s a good chance you’ll want to bring little Fido along for a trip at some point in time.

If so, there are some ways you can ensure that your pet has as good—and safe—of a vacation as you. Here’s how:
Before You Go:

  • Research: When making hotel reservations, make sure you find out if they allow pets, and if they have any rules or restrictions prior to your visit. Also, check to see if there are any animal importing regulations for the destination you’ll be traveling to. Many countries require that your pet has all of the necessary health certificates, vaccinations, and treatments.
  • Visit the Vet: Most states and countries require a health certificate that is dated within ten to thirty days of travel. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure your pet receives any necessary vaccines or treatments.
  • Pack a Travel Bag: Just as you pack a suitcase for yourself or a diaper bag for your toddler, bring a travel kit for your pet as well. Health records, nail clippers, liquid bandages, portable bowls, and bottled water should all be included. Also pack a pooper-scooper, waste bags, treats, an extra leash, and a favorite pillow or toy. Make sure your pet has a proper ID tag, in case of an emergency.
  • Food and Potty Time: Your pet should not eat during car travel, especially since it may upset his stomach or enhance motion sickness. Instead, feed your pet three to four hours before the trip, and make sure he uses the bathroom before you leave.

Traveling by Plane:

  • Research Airline Regulations: Each carrier has its own set of policies, so make sure you know the pet-related requirements in advance. Certain kennels and even breeds of animals may be restricted at certain times of the year.
  • Avoid Layovers: Fly direct and choose early morning or late-evening flights in the summer to avoid hours when the temperature is at its most extreme.
  • Freeze Water: Try freezing water in a dish that can attach to the inside of the crate. If your pet gets thirsty, he can enjoy some refreshing ice.

Traveling by Car Once You Arrive:

  • Restrain Your Pet: Cats and dogs should remain in a crate that’s appropriate for their size. Crates should be big enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around, but not so big that they can walk around. Make sure it has lots of padding inside, and that it’s secured into a seat (facing the front of the car) with a seat belt. Harnesses are also good for larger dogs; look for ones that have a broad front, plenty of padding, sturdy metal hardware, and wide straps.
  • Take Breaks: Frequent breaks give your pet (and you!) a chance to stretch, eat, go to the bathroom, and burn off excess energy. Be sure to park your car in the shade, and never leave your pet alone in the car. If you feed your pet at a rest stop, make sure you give him time to digest.  And of course, always make sure your pet is kept on a leash if you walk around.
  • Keep Your Pet’s Comfort in Mind: Cats and dogs are warm blooded, so keep your car properly air-conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter.
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