naperville-iStock_000008539334_LargeAirlines, hotels, and restaurants are stepping up their game to include – and welcome – more people traveling with pets. This is a welcome change! Traveling with pets still requires advance research and preparation though to make the trip itself go smoothly. Being able to take your pet with you and share the fun is worth it. Use our tips to observe these pet travel protocols and have a relaxing, hassle-free summer vacation.

Let the memory-making, picture-taking adventures begin! Read on…

The “Fun” In Fundamental

Your pet likely reminds you every day that life is pretty simple: food, shelter, play, companionship. However, things can get a little complicated when it comes to pet travel. You’ll want to plan for almost every pet travel possibility before you go, but being prepared will allow you to relax and enjoy a vacation state of mind.

Safety and comfort are the two most important priorities to focus on, and getting both right will result in a happy four-legged traveler (and pet parent). For safety, be proactive and stop by with your pet prior to your trip to check on, update, and complete any of the following:

  • Vaccinations (you’ll need to have a copy of your pet’s vaccine history with you at all times)
  • Medical records (in case your pet is ill or injured on your trip and you need these)
  • Parasite prevention will be especially critical if you’ll be traveling to places with high numbers of ticks and mosquitoes
  • Microchipping – while identification tags on your pet’s collar are important, microchips are the only permanent means of pet ID
  • Any prescriptions needed for travel, such as motion sickness support
  • General wellness check
  • Training may be advised if you feel concerned for your pet’s safety; certain commands while on the road could be life-saving
  • A pet travel health certificate will need to be completed and signed for air travel, international travel, and many hotels. Allow 7-30 days for this important step depending on your travel plans.

Travel Modes

By far, the most common travel mode for pets and their parents is cruising in the car, and we offer these tips for the safest journey:

  • Your pet should be secured in the backseat with a car harness, or inside his or her travel crate and buckled
  • You should plan to stop at pet-friendly pit stops along the way
  • Keep your pet leashed while out of the car, offer water, exercise, and a meal, if it’s time to eat
  • While nothing captures the image of a freewheeling pet vacation better than a dog’s head sticking out of a car window, your pet should neither roam free inside the car nor stick his or her nose out an open window while the car is in motion
  • Keep airflow moving to the backseat, monitor your pet for overheating and dehydration caused by stress
  • Prepare a list of emergency veterinarians along your route, and near your destination

No one’s driving to Fiji, so if you’re flying to your pet travel destination, you’ll need to prepare in these ways:

  • Make sure your understand your chosen airline’s rules and restrictions for your pet, your pet may not be able to remain with you in the cabin and, instead, be placed in the cargo hold during the flight
  • The day before you leave, cut back on your pet’s food portion size slightly, but maintain an abundant supply of water
  • Feed your pet a small meal two hours before placing him or her in the carrier
  • Exercise your pet before leaving home and again before you check in for your flight
  • International flights may require various documentation regarding your pet’s health; research foreign restrictions and contact the country’s embassy to ensure understanding

Boons of Pet Travel

It can be so difficult to leave your pet at home or in a boarding facility (no matter how wonderful and cozy). While you’ll have to delve deep into the world of pet travel preparation, it’s so worth it! Imagine the many vistas (and new smells to sniff!) the two of your can share and enjoy together; the bonding opportunities are truly endless!

If you have any questions about pet travel, The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital are here to help. And we recommend this wonderful pet travel FAQ from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Happy Trails!