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Tips for Traveling with Pets

February 8, 2010

**Important – If you decide to travel with your pet, please contact the airline prior to making your reservation online to make sure they have space. If you find that they do have space, visit our website to complete your booking and than contact the airline to have them document your reservation.

Should your pet travel?
Some pets should not travel widely, whether due to health, temperament, manners, or many other reasons. Even if the airline and hotel accept pets, you may not want an ill-behaved pet on your trip. In these cases, consider a kennel or pet sitter, or get the proper training and behavior modifications in place before you go.

Are pets allowed at your destination?
Many destinations won’t permit your pet to enter the country easily. Hawaii, for instance, has a 120-day quarantine period for dogs, as Hawaii is free of rabies. Unless you’re moving there, your pet is better off at home.

Don’t underestimate the cost
With crates, air and hotel surcharges, toys, extra food, unexpected vet bills away from home, and more, traveling with your pet can add up. Be aware of the costs.

Proper identification
An animal tag with complete information, including rabies vaccination information, your name, address, and phone number, and local contact numbers, could save your pet’s life.

A well-trained pet is going to save you trouble
A pet that responds to your commands will save you considerable trouble while on the road. From the airport to the hotel, a pet that is friendly and obedient is the most pleasant traveling companion.

Learn about your pet’s health
knowing a little about your pet’s normal temperature, pulse and respiratory rate, prescription medications, and other health issues can save you time, worry and money on the road. Consult your vet, and make a checklist of these issues.

Bring a pet first-aid kit
A pet thermometer, tweezers, gauze, antibiotic ointments, ear drops, and other items available at most stores will work; consult your vet for a complete list.

Buying a crate
A pet crate is not something to skimp on. The crate should be the correct size, sturdy, and comfortable. A crate that is too small will be very uncomfortable; a crate that is too large could cause the pet to be tossed around during handling. Airline-approved crates are probably your best bet. Most crates come with food and water bowls, as well as stickers indicating that an animal is inside. If your pet is house-trained, consider putting a blanket, liner, or cushion in the crate. If they are not house-trained, a clean carrier floor is probably best.

“Crate train” your pet
A long flight or a lonely hotel room should not be the place your pet becomes acquainted with a traveling crate. Buy your crate well before traveling, and work with your pet until they are familiar and comfortable in the crate. Normal training techniques should work, such as the use of food, praise, and other incentives to get your pet used to staying in the crate.

Air Travel Tips
Consult your vet before all air travel. Many pets are simply not suited to air travel, whether for health, age, or breed concerns. (Many breeds that have restricted breathing, including pugnosed dog breeds such as Boston Terriers and bulldogs, as well as Persian cats, are considered at risk when flying.) Animals under 8-12 weeks, or older

Required documentation
You need a health certificate if you want to get your pet on an airplane, usually issued within 10 days of your flight. Most veterinarians can supply you with everything you’ll need. Similarly, if you’re on the road and your pet is in a fight, or bites someone, you’ll want documentation that the pet has had rabies and other vaccinations.

Moderate temperature range
Airlines will not transport pets if the temperature is below 32 degrees, or above 85 degrees. For this reason, it is sometimes best to travel early in the day during the summer, and at mid-day during the winter.

Purchase non-stop or direct flights
Your pet is at the most risk for mishandling during connections, especially tight connections. A direct, or even better, non-stop flight is your best safeguard against these types of problems.

Take a large plane
Most 747’s and other wide-body jets have forced air ventilation in their cargo holds, while many smaller planes, such as 737’s and 727’s, do not. Check at the time of purchase what type of plane you will be flying with your airline or travel agent.

Investigate specific airline requirements for pet transport
Airlines have very specific requirements for pet transport. Make sure you observe all requirements; an airline can refuse carriage if you fail to fulfill all requirements.

Feeding before air travel
Avoid feeding your pet large meals before flights. A small meal will stave off hunger, and you can feed your pet again at your destination.

Exercise your pet
A tired pet is a happy pet, especially if it is cooped up in an airplane for a long time. Dogs, especially, are happier if you exercise them before traveling.

Stop somewhere near the airport to walk your pet
Imagine if you had to be inside a cargo hold with no bathroom for a long flight. Your pet will be most comfortable if you take it out as close to flight time as possible. Similarly, walk your pet as soon as possible upon arrival.

Get to the airport early
Pets require special handling, might need some time to be taken for a last minute walk, and may need some extra TLC, as many are nervous or afraid when flying.

Airlines must provide facilities to handle animals
Nonetheless, many airport porter services are independently owned – that is, they are not directly employed by the airlines. As a result, the airlines have less clout to force porters to take your pet down to baggage handling. It’ll get done, but it might take some work and time. Remember to tip the porters; the reason many are reluctant to transport pets is that they lose precious time at curbside, where they can earn a tip every couple minutes.

Consult your vet concerning sedating your pet
Sedatives for pet air travel do create risks for some animals, including difficulties at high altitudes and with temperature regulation. Consult your vet.

Administer drugs carefully
If you decide to give your pet a sedative, the timing and dosage of any pet sedative or travel sickness medicine you use is critical. Bring your veterinarian’s instructions with you to the airport and on your trip.

Prepare the crate
Colorful, large, easy-to-read labels, sufficient water and food, and perhaps a favorite blanket or toy are essential for your pet’s well-being. Some travelers label crates with their pet’s name, and you should always make sure that your pet, as well as their crate, has some identifying information, such as a baggage address label and a pet name tag on your pet’s collar including your contact information both at home and your destination.

Crate/kennel requirements
– Kennels must be enclosed, with enough room for the animal to sit, stand, and lie down naturally. The crate must be strong enough to withstand normal travel usage.
– If the crate has wheels, they must be removed before travel.
– Kennels must have a solid, leakproof floor that is lined with some absorbent material.
– Kennels must be well-ventilated, with openings that make up at least 14% of the total wall space, and must have rims that prevent ventilation openings from being blocked.
– Kennels must have handles or grips such that handlers are not forced to put their fingers inside the crate to move it.
– Kennel must be marked with the words “live animals” or “wild animals” in lettering at least one inch high, with directional arrows indicating the proper orientation of the kennel.
– Airlines may have additional restrictions on the number of animals per kennel, as well as other requirements. Always check with your specific airline.

Baggage, cargo, or passenger?
Most pets travel as excess baggage; there is typically a limit of 100 pounds including the pet and crate.

Otherwise, your pet may have to travel as cargo, for which fees are higher, and, importantly, airlines may not guarantee that your pet flies on the same flight you do.

Airlines sometimes permit pets weighing ten pounds or less to fly in the cabin, usually not more than two pets per flight. Costs range from $50-100 and up. All requirements for health certificates and other precautions remain in effect.

Passenger? Do not take your pet out of their carrier
Many people are allergic to pet hair, or simply do not care to be forced to deal with an animal during a flight. Be considerate and keep your pet in their carrier for the duration of the flight.

Car Travel Tips
Leaving your pet in the car unattended is one of the great “dont’s” of pet ownership. Even when temperatures are mild, a car can get dangerously hot or cold under seemingly benign conditions. In most situations, you are putting your pet at risk.

Some imperfect solutions: – Keep your pet in a crate, and put a cold wet towel over the crate.
– Leave the car running with the air-conditioning on (lock the car – you’ll need an extra set of keys). Again, your pet should be in a crate so it cannot reach auto controls.

Some other don’ts:
– don’t let your pet hang their head out the window. – don’t leave your pet loose in the vehicle. A leash tied to a seat works here, or a stable crate. – don’t let your pet ride in the passenger’s seat. As with small children, it’s never appropriate, and a little dangerous, to have your pet in the passenger’s seat.

Frequent walking
Many pets love to get out and explore, and many need to be taken outside to relieve themselves more often while traveling than at home.

Food and water
You should have food and water with you in the car – the heat of the car, the stress of traveling, and your pet’s excitement offer cause increased thirst.

Car sickness
Pets are as prone, perhaps moreso, to car sickness as humans. Partially open windows and frequent walks help, and there are many remedies available from pet stores and vets as well. Consult your vet for more information.

Lodging Tips
Investigate whether your hotel accepts pets
Many hotels gladly accept pets. Find a list of many such hotels at

Ask for a first- or ground-floor room
It’s far easier to get your pet in and out of the hotel without incident if you are on the ground floor – no elevators, stairs, or altercations with other guests.

Keep your pet clean
If you take your pet outside, you should wipe mud, dirt, and water off the pet before bringing them back into the hotel. Some pet dirt can stain floors and linens, and you might have to pay for cleaning or replacement costs.

Keep your pet in a crate
Hotel employees, neighbors, and your pet are probably best served by this step. Your pet can relax in familiar surroundings, the room stays clean, and you can relax as well. Don’t leave your pet loose and unattended.

Use the Do Not Disturb sign
If you do have to leave your pet in your room, put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door so no hotel employee enters and is frightened or accosted by your pet.

Leave the radio or a tape on
Many pets are comforted by familiar music. While you are out, play their favorite station.

Walk your pet in an approved area
Ask hotel management where they would prefer that you walk your pet, and�

Clean up after your pet
Most hotels don’t want to be considered dog walks; clean up after your pet.

Packing Checklist
– Health documentation: rabies papers, recent shots, medication, vet’s contact numbers
– leash
– bed
– blanket
– muzzle
– food and water
– food and water bowls
– snacks
– first-aid kit
– toys
– crate
– grooming tools


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