How To Travel With Pets This Holiday

By Dr. Crystal Montanye, Former Hospital Manager

If you will be traveling with your pet during the holidays it is important to plan ahead. Be sure you will have enough time to spend with your pet while you are away. The best way to ensure your pet will do well is to go on several trips increasing in time, if your pet seems anxious or nervous be sure to speak with your veterinarian.  

If traveling by vehicle be sure your dog has enough space to be comfortable, but is not able to freely roam around the vehicle. While your dog may love being able to stick its head out the window, wander from the front to the back and sit in the seat next to you that can be unsafe and cause distractions. The safest way for your dog to travel is in a secured crate or a seatbelt. Whenever possible be sure you and your pet have a travel partner to help with caring for your pet. Be sure to make frequent stops to allow your dog to exercise and eliminate, ensure you have proper identification on your pet at all times.

Most cats are not comfortable traveling so if you must take them with you be sure they are in a secured carrier. If left out cats can wander under the seat, under the feet of the driver or out an open window.

NEVER leave your pets in the care alone, even a short time can be a long time to your pets and cause harm.

If you are traveling by plane it is most important to check with the airline about their requirements for your pets’ travel. Most airlines will allow you to travel with a small dog or cat in the cabin however there are limits to the number of animals allowed.

When you contact the airline, be sure to get clear answers to these questions:

  1. Will the airline allow you to take your cat or small dog in the cabin with you?
  2. Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements?
  3. Does the airline require a specific type of carrier? 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.
  4. If you can’t take your pet in the cabin, does the airline have any restrictions on transporting your pet in the cargo hold.

Things to prepare for when flying:

  1. Take precautions when bringing your pet through airport security.
  2. Your pet’s carrier will have to pass through the security screening along with you. You have two options: Either be sure your pet is securely harnessed so you can safely contain them outside their carrier while it’s being x-rayed, or request a special secondary screening that won’t require you to take them out of their carrier.

If you get overwhelmed by all the regulations, there are companies that can help you navigate the process.

Amtrak now allows some pets on certain trains, please be sure to check with them prior to booking travel. If traveling by train you will want to verify all requirements for your travel. If traveling by train it is your responsibility to exercise and allow your pet to eliminate at station stops.

Always be sure to check with your veterinarian when taking your pet with you!

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