Travelling with your pet should be a safe, fun and relaxed experience, but as many travellers can attest, it doesn't always turn out that way. Car sickness, dehydration, complications with pet immigration, less-than-pet-friendly hotel staff, these common pet travel pitfalls can be avoided by adhering to the following pet travel checklist to ensure you are fully prepared!
Before you travel
- Consult with your veterinarian to ensure you pet is in good physical health and cleared to travel
- Check the vaccine requirements with your destination city/state/country and get any necessary shots
- Refill any prescriptions, and bring them in their original vials
- Ensure your pet's flea/tick/parasite medication is up to date
- Create a 'pet passport' containing all of your pet's pertinent health and vaccination records
- Ensure your pet has collar ID tags and permanent identification (i.e. tattoo or microchip)
- Obtain a Passport for Companion Animal if travelling out of the country
What to pack
- Collar, leash and ID tags
- Travel approved pet carrier
- Food, fresh water, and treats
- Portable food/water containers
- Favorite toy/blanket from home
- Comfortable bedding
- Any medications in original vials
- Pet first-aid kit
- Pet passport including up-to-date health and vaccination records
- Clean up bags
- Recent photo of your pet in case they get lost
- Extra towels (if your hotel doesn't provide them)
Traveling by car
- Make sure your pet is okay with car rides. If not, acclimatize them to shorter trips at first, and build up to longer car rides as your departure date approaches
- Feed a small meal before your trip, if at all. Car sickness is just as common in dogs as it is in humans, and equally as unpleasant
- Bring lots of clean and fresh water in a sealable container and a travel dish Fido can easily access during the trip
- Maintain your pet's regular food schedule to try and avoid gastrointestinal upset
- Plan for frequent rest stops to allow for bathroom breaks, fresh air and some outdoor play!
- Ensure your pet is always safely confined, either to a crate or with a doggy seat belt
- Map out veterinary clinics on your route in case of emergency
- Never leave your pet unsupervised in a parked car
Traveling by air
- Discuss with your vet whether or not tranquilizing your pet is a safe option. Many vets do not recommend this as it can be dangerous, especially for a pet that's left unsupervised
- Check your airline carrier's website for their pet friendly guidelines and regulations (i.e. breed restrictions, weight limits, etcetera)
- Book your pet's ticket when you book your own and not upon arrival. Many airline carriers have restrictions as to how many pets are allowed on board at a time
- Some airlines carries will allow small pets in the cabin in an airline approved carrier. Check their policies to see if Fido or Fluffy can ride up front with you
- Try to book direct flights
- If your pet is traveling in the cargo compartment, be sure their kennel is approved for air travel and in good condition
- Label your pet's crate with their photo, their name, your last name and contact phone number
- Consider using a specialty pet carrier or animal transport company
When choosing a pet friendly hotel or accommodation provider, ask for their pet policies and guidelines. Some establishments have weight/height restrictions, only allow a certain number of pets, or only welcome dog/cats.
Specify when booking that you are bringing a pet and pay the pet guest fee. Getting caught sneaking Fido or Fluffy into your room is embarrassing and could result in being evicted from the property.
Upon check in, ask for a copy of their pet policies and abide by them. Keep in mind that while your certified pet friendly accommodation provider will be thrilled to welcome your pets, the other guests might not be as excited about your dog or cat's presence.
Ask the front desk to notify any cleaning staff that there is a pet in your room. Most pet friendly establishments will have a 'pet occupied' do-not-disturb door hanger available to you.
If leaving your pet in the room unsupervised, first check with the front desk to see what their policy is. Some require that pets be kenneled when in the guest room alone, while others do not. Leave an emergency contact number with the front desk and give them an idea of where you will be.
When visiting designated pet friendly areas on the property, be sure to keep Fido on a leash unless otherwise specified. Although you know he's a perfectly trained and well behaved gentleman, other guests might not be so confident.
Ask the front desk for a map of local pet friendly trails, parks, activities and service providers and take Fido and Fluffy out on the town!
Report any damage caused by your pet immediately, and pay any necessary fines or fees. This is just one of the responsibilities of having the privilege of traveling with your pet.