If you’re one of those people who think traveling with a pet is similar to traveling with a human companion, think again. Taking a trip with a pet, no matter what pet, will be one heck of a hassle if you’re not prepared. To make sure you’re not fumbling around, here’s a guide to travel with pets.
The biggest thing about traveling with your pet is planning. It would help if you started planning for your pet’s safety and comfort when you start the proceedings of the trip. Decide on the mode of travel, get the appropriate accessories, and also prepare for any emergencies.
After you’re done with the primary preparations, then you can start getting your pet used to the idea of traveling. If you’ve taken trips in the past, you might’ve done this step already, but it never hurts to refresh your pet’s training. Only once you’re done with these preparations can you hope for a somewhat stable and trouble-free trip with your pet. Keep reading our guide to know more about travel with pets.
Pets That You Can Take Along for Travel
Just because you want to take your pet with you on this trip doesn’t mean that they will be allowed on the flight or other mode of transportation. Generally speaking, most airlines allow cats and small dogs. So if you have one of these two pets, you’re in the clear.
However, if you have a large dog, you might want to check with the airlines if there are any guidelines about this. Some airlines do not allow pit bull types of dogs in the cabin, while some have rules against carrying brachycephalic dogs and cats in the cargo hold. Other animals that are generally allowed on flights are:
- Rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters
- Household birds
- Non Poisonous reptiles
- Pot-bellied pigs
- Tropical fish
If you have an exotic or unusual pet, you probably will not be allowed to take it along. Moreover, if your pet is obviously sick or injured, or even skittish, traveling with it is inadvisable. It would help if you also waited before your pet is weaned and at least eight weeks old.
Pets do not count as carry-on luggage, so you’ll have to pay an extra fee for taking the pet. It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking other carry-on luggage or not; you still have to pay for the pet fee.
Is Your Pet Healthy Enough for Travel?
Have you decided on where you’re going and when? Make sure to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. It might take some days to get a schedule, so do not dawdle. Ask the vet if your pet is healthy and fit for travel. While you’re at it, make sure your pet’s vaccines are all up-to-date, especially the rabies vaccine. The certificate of veterinary inspection or official health certificate and the proof of vaccination will come in handy.
Get Your Pet Ready for the Trip
Traveling by car or airplane for long hours can be a stressful experience for a pet. So it would help if you got them used to sitting in their travel carrier. Take your pet on short trips to places they enjoy, like the park. This way, they’ll associate going into the carrier with fun and relaxation.
However, if you get yourself a carrier that’s too small for your pet or too uncomfortable, then the whole purpose will be defeated. Your pet will be uncomfortable the whole time. So pay attention to your pet’s needs while picking a suitable quality carrier. Feed your pet at least 4 hours before the trip. Take them on a walk before you leave so that they’re tired out.
If the pet is tired, it will not make a lot of fuss during the trip. Even if you are worried about your pet making a lot of noise, it’s best not to sedate or tranquilize your pet for a trip. That might cause breathing problems and be fatal to the pet. Getting an all-natural pet calmer is better. Consult your vet to see if they have anything to recommend.
Don’t Forget the Essentials
You would take along ample identification for a solo trip. Therefore, it only makes sense that you also manage your pet’s identification. Any responsible pet owner should get their pet an ID tag with home address and cellphone number.
Moreover, it would be best to get a temporary tag with your temporary address (of the place you’re traveling to) and phone number. If you’ve ever wanted to get your pet microchipped, this is the perfect time for that. Bring along other essential documents like the medical history papers.
Another thing to pay special attention to is the pet carrier and anything that goes in it. No matter what pet you have, make sure the carrier (cage, soft-sided carrier, crate, etc.) is large enough to allow your pet comfort. If your flight is longer than 8-12 hours, check if the airline will allow a pet or not because such a long journey might be quite arduous.
The carrier should have a waterproof bottom, spring locked door, and be well-ventilated. It should also be free of interior protrusions. It would help if you made it even cozier with a mat, toys, a water bottle, or a bowl (if the airline allows it). If there’s concern about spillage, freeze the bowl of water.
If you’re traveling by car, it’s much easier to get your pet accustomed to the idea of a trip. Take your pet in the carrier and then take it on short trips in the car. Don’t forget to buckle up for safety! You can get yourself a pet car seat or unique buckles.
Make sure your car is safe for the pet. If your pet tends to pee or poop in the car, then invest in waterproof seat covers. But really, stopping the car and letting your pet take bathroom breaks is better. It will also let you stretch your legs.
For your pet’s safety and you, do not let your pet roam around in the car, especially don’t let it sit on your lap. That could end in a fatal disaster. Other precautions include not turning on the music too high and not leaving your pet in a parked vehicle.
In-Cabin Air Travel
During air flights, try to get your pet along with you in the cabin. Airlines usually have a set limit of pets they will allow in a cabin, so try to reserve a place in advance. It’s best if you book a midweek flight, as the rush is less during that time. For the same reason, do not travel with your pet during a holiday.
When you take your pet for in-cabin air travel, you will probably be prompted to keep the carrier under the seat. Some airlines also have special compartments built for pets. However, even if the cabin crew insists, never put your pet’s carrier in the overhead bin.
Cargo Air Travel
I would not recommend cargo travel for pets, but it’s necessary sometimes. For the sake of your sanity and your pet’s safety, try to get a non-stop flight. That will reduce the chances of your pet getting lost with all the other baggage.
Please do not use the cargo during extreme temperatures, as it will harm the pet more than you could imagine. To make sure your pet receives proper treatment, alert the cabin crew that there’s a live animal in the cargo hold. Lastly, label your pet crate with a “live animal” sticker.
Pet Relocation Services
If you’re not sure if you can handle traveling with your pet on your own, you should talk to a pet relocation service. Talk to them in detail about their services and also about the requirements of your pet. That might be a little costly, but it will also save you a lot of hassle.
Take a look at the pet-friendly hotels where you’re making the trip, and pick the one that offers the best deal. Keep an eye on any extra fees, though. When you’re booking a room, request one on the ground floor so you can take your pet for a walk easily.
While you’re in the hotel room, make sure your pet doesn’t ruin any furniture. An untoward incident like that could rack up your bill a lot more than you could anticipate. Lay down towels or blankets on anything your pet might try to damage. To be safe, you could also use a pee pad.
Lastly, be prepared for emergencies. Even before you leave, take note of any veterinary hospitals in that area, so you know where to bring your pet to if there’s an accident or sudden illness.
In the above guide to travel with pets, we mostly covered taking trips by car or airplane. That’s because traveling by train, bus, or boat would be less than convenient for your pet and you both for various reasons. I suggest you stick to a car or in-cabin air travel if the trip is long. Follow our advice, and you’ll have a smooth travel experience.