Successful Travel with your Pet

By Dr. Tracy Appelbaum, Managing Veterinarian

With the holidays approaching many of us have travel plans that involve long distance car rides, plane flights and other forms of transportation. While this already seems stressful to schedule for ourselves, it can require even more strategic planning when we make the decision to take our family pets along. Here are just a few suggestions to make sure everyone has a well-organized and safe vacation.

  1. Make sure your pet is appropriately vaccinated: You never know who your pet will come in contact with while traveling. When stopping at public rest stops for bathroom breaks or having to spend the night at a boarding facility you want to decrease your pet’s chance of contracting certain diseases like canine flu and bordatella. It also never hurts to keep a copy of your pet’s vaccine information and microchip number on you in case of emergency.
  2. Get a health certificate: Many airlines require that an owner provide a health certificate prior to travel. These certificates often must be obtained within a certain timeline related to your travel plans. Contact your airline to determine if this is necessary for you flight. If traveling internationally the requirements are often much more involved. International health certificates can only be provided by certain licensed veterinarians so it is important to make this known when scheduling your appointment. Make sure you bring all necessary documents with you to your visit. More information can be found on the United States Department of Agriculture’s website –
  3. Pack appropriately: Make sure you have enough food and water to last for your entire trip. Bring several litter pans for the cats that you are traveling with. Travel crates are also useful if you have to leave your pet for an extended amount of time. Packing leashes and collars for pets are also a great idea.
  4. Plan appropriately for pets that do not travel well: Many pets have issues with motion sickness and travel anxiety. There are several medications available that can help decrease these episodes. Speaking with your veterinarian prior to a long trip can assure that you are well prepared.
  5. Keep your flea and tick medications up to date: When staying at a hotel that happily accepts pets you can never be sure who (or what) was in the room before you. No one wants to bring a flea infestation home after a long vacation!
  6. Realize that not all pets are meant to travel: Sometimes it is better not to try to take your family friend along. Whether you have a large breed dog that would have to fly in the very cold or hot cargo hold or a cat that doesn’t get along with the dogs at your family’s home, a boarding facility or pet sitter may be a better idea. Most facilities are also comfortable providing care for pet’s with chronic medical conditions like diabetes or other conditions that require medication administration.

Keeping these factors in mind when planning your next vacation will ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. If you are considering taking your pet along for the trip this year feel free to schedule an appointment with your Rocky Gorge veterinarian to make sure you are adequately prepared for your journey.

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