If you’re one of the many families who plan to travel and can’t imagine leaving their pet behind, you may be wondering how best to ensure a stress-free trip. Traveling with a pet can be fun and memorable, but planning and preparation are required. Our team at Alpine Animal Hospital answers common questions about traveling with pets to help you and your family prepare for your pet-friendly summer travels.  

Question: Is my pet fit to travel?

Answer: Before you plan a trip with your pet, ask yourself if your pet is up for travel. Sure, we’d all love to take our pets wherever we go, including on vacation, but the reality is that some pets are better off staying home. Consider the following before deciding whether your pet should join you:

  • Pet’s age — A senior pet is more likely to have mobility issues and joint pain that could make traveling uncomfortable. Traveling with a kitten or puppy—especially one that isn’t potty trained—can be difficult, and if your pet is too young to have received all of their vaccinations, travel would not be safe for them. 
  • Pet’s health — If your pet has a health condition that affects their mobility, or requires regular medical care, they may be better off at home. If your pet has a condition but is able to travel, you will need to pack a sufficient supply of their medications, and plan for a medical emergency.
  • Pet’s temperament — Think about your pet’s personality and behavior, and imagine them in various travel scenarios. Is your pet fearful, anxious, or reactive? If so, taking your pet with you may be unsafe for them and your fellow travelers. 

If you do decide to board your pet, be aware that most boarding facilities have vaccination and other requirements, so check ahead.

Your pet may be an excellent traveler, but you still should consider the pet-friendliness of your destination. Answer questions such as:

  • Do your accommodations allow pets?
  • If you are staying with friends or family, are they comfortable with your pet in their home?
  • How does your pet react in unfamiliar environments?

Q: How can I prepare my pet to travel in the car?

A: If you’re planning a road trip, spend time beforehand helping your pet acclimate to car travel for an extended period. The safest place for a pet in the car is a secure crate, which will need to be comfortable for your pet while the car is moving. Create a positive association with the crate by including a soft blanket and a favorite toy. Once your pet is comfortable in their crate, gradually take them on longer rides to prepare them for your road trip. 

Q: What do I need to do to fly with my pet?

A:  Every airline has their own policy, so ensure you are familiar with your airline’s pet rules before you travel. Your pet’s breed and size will determine whether they can travel in the plane’s cabin or the cargo area, so check with your airline for the kennel dimensions and weight limits they require, to ensure you are following regulations. Most airlines require a pet health certificate issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian 10 days or less before you travel, so you’ll want to schedule a pre-travel veterinary appointment to get these documents and ensure your pet is in good condition for traveling. 

Q: What should I pack for my pet?

A: You want your pet to feel as comfortable as possible when traveling, so ensure you pack all their essential items, including:

  • Food 
  • Treats
  • Bowls
  • Toys
  • Bedding
  • Travel crate
  • Litter and litter box
  • Waste bags
  • Current identification tag
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Vaccination records
  • Prescription medications
  • Heartworm, flea, and tick preventives

Q: How can I keep my pet safe while traveling?

A: One of the biggest safety concerns for your pet while traveling is ensuring they don’t get lost in an unfamiliar location. Your pet should wear a secure collar with identification tags at all times. Ensure your contact information is readable and accurate, and if your pet has not been microchipped, schedule an appointment for this quick procedure before your trip. Always keep your pet on a short leash while traveling. 

Traveling with a pet can be amazing, but without preparation, can be a disaster. However, now you know how to plan and prepare for your pet travels, you can relax and enjoy the journey. At Alpine Animal Hospital, we are always here to help, so schedule your pre-travel appointment for your pet’s examination, and required vaccinations and certifications, and be ready for the trip of a lifetime.