Travel Safely with Your Pet
Stay or go? Choose what is safest and most comfortable for your pet. As a rule, cats are almost always better off in their own home. Dogs often enjoy travel, but unless you will be able to spend a lot of time with your pet, they may be safer at home. Here are some tips for a safe and low-stress trip:
TRAVELING BY CAR WITH PETS
Dogs shouldn't roam in the car
The safest way for your dog to travel in the car is in a crate that has been anchored to the vehicle using a seatbelt or other secure means. Automotive pet harnesses are useful especially for preventing your dog from roaming around the car and being a distraction to the driver, and they may offer some protection from impact forces during abrupt stops and vehicle collisions. Make sure to choose a harness that has passed Pet Safey Durability Testing such as the Bergan brand.
Cats belong in carriers
Most cats aren't comfortable traveling in cars, so for their safety as well as yours, keep them in a carrier. It's important to restrain these carriers in the car so that they don't bounce around and hurt your cat. Do this by securing a seat belt around the front of the carrier.
Leave the front seat for humans
Keep your pet in the back seat of the car. If an airbag deploys while your pet is in the passenger seat (even in a crate), it might injure your pet.
Keep those heads inside!
Dogs and cats should always be kept safely inside the car. Pets who are allowed to stick their heads out the window can be injured by particles of debris or made sick by having cold air forced into their lungs. Never transport a pet in the back of an open pickup truck.
Give your pet plenty of rest stops
Stop frequently to allow your pet to exercise and eliminate. But never permit your pet to leave the car without a collar, ID tag and leash.
Don't ever leave your pet alone in a car
In addition to the danger of heatstroke during warmer times of the year is the year-round hazard of the unspoken invitation you issue to pet (and car) thieves any time you leave your pet alone in a car.
TRAVELING BY AIRPLANE WITH PETS
Traveling by air can be dangerous for pets. Every year, animals are killed, injured or lost on commercial airlines. Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation and rough handling are often to blame. Air travel is particularly dangerous for animals with pushed in or "brachycephalic" faces, such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats. Their short nasal passages leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.
If you must fly your pet, choose the cabin
- Most airlines will allow you to take a cat or small dog in the cabin for an additional fee. But you must call the airline well in advance; there are limits to the number of animals allowed in the cabin. If you are transporting your dog, make sure he/she meets the size requirements. Find out if the airline has any special pet health and immunization requirements.
- All airlines will require a health certificate signed by a veterinarian within ten days of the flight. Federal regulations require pets be at least 8 weeks of age, and weaned at least 5 days. Some airlines will require a veterinarian signed acclimation certificate for cargo shipped pets. This certifies your pet is healthy enough to handle temperature conditions less than 45 degrees F for an extended period of time. If temperatures are over 85 degrees, airlines will NOT fly pets. We can help you make sure you have all the required paperwork.
- Most airlines will accept either hard-sided carriers or soft-sided carriers (which may be more comfortable for your pet), but only certain brands of soft-sided carriers are acceptable to certain airlines. Your carrier should;
- Be large enough for your pet to stand (without touching the top of the cage), turn around and lie down
- Be strong and have handles or grips
- Have a leak-proof bottom
- Be well ventilated
- Be clearly labeled with owners name, home address and phone number, destination contact information and a sign stating "Live Animals" with arrows showing which way is upright.
Your pet's carrier will have to pass through the security screening along with you. Either be sure your pet is securely harnessed so you can safely contain him or her OUTSIDE the carrier while it's being x-rayed, or request a special secondary screening that won't require you to take them out of the carrier. Do not run your pet through the x-ray screen!
Follow these tips if your pet must fly in the cargo hold
If your pet must travel in the cargo hold, you can increase the chances of a safe flight for your pet by following these tips.
- Use direct flights.
- Always travel on the same flight as your pet.
- When you board the plane, notify the captain and at least one flight attendant that your pet is traveling in the cargo hold. If the captain knows that pets are on board, he or she may take special precautions.
- Don't ever ship brachycephalic animals such as Pekingese dogs, bulldogs or Persian cats in the cargo holds.
- If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes. Early morning or late evening flights are better in the summer; afternoon flights are better in the winter.
- Fit your pet with a collar that can't get caught in carrier doors. Affix two pieces of identification on the collar: a permanent ID with your name and home address and telephone number, and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached. Have your pet microchipped and make sure your contact information is up to date.
- Affix a travel label to the carrier on which you've written your name, permanent address and telephone number, final destination, and where you or a contact person can be reached as soon as the flight arrives.
- Make sure that your pet's nails have been clipped to protect against them getting hooked in the carrier's door, holes, and other crevices.
- Give your pet at least a month before your flight to become familiar with the travel carrier. This will minimize his stress during travel.
- Do not give your pet tranquilizers unless we have specifically prescribed them. In general, we do NOT recommend tranquilization of pets for air travel.
- Do not feed your pet for two to three hours before the trip. However, you can give him small amounts of water. If possible, put ice cubes in the water tray attached to the inside of your pet's crate or kennel. (A full water bowl will only spill and cause discomfort.)
- Try not to fly with your pet during busy travel times such as holidays and the summer.
- Carry a current photograph of your pet. Ideally have one on your phone along with your pet's microchip number.
TRAVELING BY SHIP WITH PETS
With the exception of assistance dogs, pets are welcome on only a few cruise lines. Some lines permit pets in private cabins, but most confine pets to kennels. If you must use the ship's kennel, make sure it is protected from the elements and check on your pet frequently. When traveling between foreign countries by boat, carry a Certficiate of Veterinary Inspection and a Pet Passport to bypass quarantine procedures.
If traveling by personal boat, take time to allow your pet to become familiar with your boat.
- Provide a ramp for your pet to easily get on and off the boat, and non-slip bathroom rugs to keep your pet from sliding on the wet boat and burning their paws.
- Your pet should wear a proper-fitting personal flotation device (a life jacket) at all times to keep your pet safe in and around water, even if they know how to swim.
- Applying sunscreen prevents sunburn to your pet, especially pets with light skin and short or thin hair coats. Epi-Pet Sun Protector is the only FDA approved product for dogs, but cannot be used in cats. Titanium Dioxide products can be used to protect ear tips and noses.
TRAVELING BY TRAIN WITH PETS
Amtrak currently doesn't accept pets unless they are assistance dogs. That may change soon as there is currently a bill before Congress (Pets on Trains Act H.R. 674) that will allow Amtrak to permit passengers to bring pets on certain trains.