How to Travel with Your Pets

We recently adopted a second dog.  She’s a Treeing Walker Coonhound named Moonshine.  She’s everything our Rat Terrier, Kaiser, is not. We love to be around our dogs and wish we could take them everywhere with us on our travels.  As avid travelers, the length of the long-haul flights coupled with quarantine requirements (for some countries) outweigh the benefits of bringing our pets with us.

A few years ago, we took Kaiser with us on a short road trip.  He failed his first hotel stay miserably.  He was on high-alert the whole night barking at everyone that passed by our door. No one slept and we needed a vacation from the vacation after that experiment.

After that experience, we opted to board our dog at doggy day care, and now sign up for in-home overnights from local business Alpha Pets, Inc., to ease the anxiety on everyone.  Our pets are happy, and we’re happy.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

But for over 50% of Americans, your furbabies are right in tow along with your neck pillow and 3 oz. of liquids.  Just as you take care and caution in traveling with small children or breakables in your luggage, the same kind of thought and care should apply when traveling with your pets.

If you are considering bringing your pet along with you on your next vacation, here are some great tips to keep in mind to make your trip as comfortable as possible for both you and them.

1. Do Your Homework — Airline regulations vary in terms of what breeds are allowed, how much the dog can weigh and whether the dog can fly in the cabin or as cargo, the type of carriers that are allowed, and the fees that are involved.  Additionally, the USDA requires the following with all carriers: food and water dishes, “Live Animal” stickers, upright arrows and bedding  It is also critical that you check the pet incident records for the specific airline.  These reports will tell you how many were lost, died, or injured in recent years.

Also, if you intend to fly with Fido or Fluffy, book them early.  Each plane is allowed a maximum of in-cabin or cargo animals and waiting until the last minute means they may not be able to come after all.

2. Assess Pet Health — Just because your pet can fly, doesn’t mean they should.  Older dogs, or those in poor health, are probably better left at home.  Some dogs, such as pugs which are prone to breathing problems, are mostly prohibited from flying in cargo and may not be allowed at all.

3. Carry copies of your pet records in your carry-on — This should include copies showing that your pet is current on its vaccinations, whether your pet is micro-chipped, and any other entry/quarantine documents that may be required if you are traveling outside of the U.S.

4. Tags and Collars – Ensure that your pet is wearing its collar with you contact information.  Make sure that your contact information is also prominently displayed on the pet carrier itself as well.

Courtesy of southbridge.olx.com

5. Exercise before the flight — this will not only help you, but it will greatly soothe your animal before the long flight.  Whether in the main cabin in or in cargo, you are not allowed to take the pet out until you reach your destination (unless you have great seatmates and a pet-lover for a flight attendant).  Exercise can help to tired out your animal and make it easier for them to sleep for the whole flight.

6. Book Pet-Friendly Hotels — websites such as www.pet-friendly-hotels.net or http://www.petswelcome.com can help you select a hotel that has pet-friendly policies and rates for your four-legged friend.

For those of you travelers that take to the road more often than the friendly skies, tips 2-5 are still very applicable.  I would also add that road travelers should safely secure their pets in a carrier or modified seat belt to reduce the risk of injury to your pet in the event of an accident.  Paws and their head should be kept in the car to limit risk of lung and ear damage for your pets!

Also,make sure to plan enough pit stops for your pets to take care of business, move their legs, and to hydrate.  Not a bad idea for their humans, either!

Do you travel with your pets?
What has been your experience and what other tips would you recommend?

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