Preparing to travel, whether by land, air, or sea, is exciting, but can also be stressful, especially when your four-legged friends will join the adventure. We always want our pets with us, especially when leaving home for long periods, but traveling with pets does require extra planning. But, so long as you and your pet are adequately prepared, traveling with pets can be seamless.
#1: Research specific pet travel requirements
Depending on your mode of travel and the destination, various paperwork for your pet may be required. Early in your travel planning, contact the applicable travel agency, airlines, regulatory agencies, and the destination where you will be staying with your pet to determine their requirements. For international travel, some agencies require forms up to four weeks in advance of arrival, and airlines often require health certificates to ensure your pet is healthy enough for the trip. For travel in the U.S., each state has specific requirements for pets traveling across state lines. For example, Hawaii requires that your pet be quarantined for 14 days. Our Holland Lake Animal Hospital website has a quick and easy questionnaire to guide you through the process of obtaining your pet’s travel health certificate, and a link to the USDA regulatory travel requirements.
#2: Prepare your pet with a trip to the vet
Once you know the requirements and the necessary forms, you should schedule a veterinary exam with our Holland Lake veterinary team, to ensure your pet is healthy enough to travel. In addition to a full physical exam and wellness check-up, we will ensure that your pet is up-to-date with their vaccinations, and perform any diagnostic tests necessary for travel. We will also check your pet’s microchip to ensure its functionality, and that your contact information is current. Some pets, especially cats, are not fans of long car or plane rides, and you should ask your veterinarian if they recommend sedation to reduce your pet’s anxiety or stress during travel. Don’t forget to also ask your veterinarian to sign any required travel paperwork, and to ensure you have copies of your pet’s current vaccination and medical history records. Keep these easily accessible should you experience an animal emergency at your destination.
#3: Make your pet checklist and check it twice
Packing lists aren’t only for people now. Packing can be a chore, especially when pets are included. Here is a sample travel list of basic pet supplies.
- Meal supplies:
- Collapsible food bowls and water dishes
- Pet food
- Can opener, if necessary
- Favorite treats
- Prescription medications
- Bathroom and outdoor supplies:
- Litter box, scoop, and plastic bags
- Dog poop bags
- Leashes and collars, including a reflective leash and collar for walking at night in unfamiliar locations
- Cleaning agent and pet smell remover in case of an accident in the car or hotel
- Favorite ball or frisbee
- Car and plane supplies
- TSA-approved carrier or crate
- Bed, favorite blanket, and toys
- Dog-specific seat belt harness
- Seat covers
- Sedation, if prescribed by your veterinarian
#4: Bring extra medications and pet supplies
Since travel plans may change or become extended, an emergency supply of medication or special dietary needs is essential. To ensure your pet does not go without prescribed medications or food, ask your veterinarian for extra supplies of long-term medications. Packing a pet first aid kit is also recommended, in case of an emergency during your travels. Check out this pet first aid checklist from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
#5: Pack your pet’s paperwork
Designate a space in your travel bag for your pet’s travel documents and other important paperwork and phone numbers. Accidents and unexpected medical emergencies can happen at any time, and having the following paperwork and contacts on hand at all times is vital:
- USDA health certificate, at least 10 days before domestic travel
- Acclimation certificate, if required by airlines
- Vaccination and medical history records
- Your veterinarian’s contact number
- Phone number and location of an emergency veterinary clinic at your destination
- ASPCA animal poison control number (888-426-4435)
- Pet’s microchip number and microchip company contact
If you and your pet are planning to head out of town, our Holland Lake Animal Hospital team is always ready to answer all your pet travel-related questions. Call our office to schedule your pre-travel veterinary appointment.