Plan In Advance When Traveling With A Pet

If you are thinking of traveling with your pet this summer, advance preparation is important.

First, visit your veterinarian to check your pet’s health and be sure your dog or cat has a 15-digit ISO pet microchip with updated contact information. Microchips will allow veterinary professionals or shelters to contact you when they find your pet, if he or she becomes lost during your trip. Make sure all rabies vaccines are current and will not expire while you are away.

Traveling for some pets can be very stressful. Discuss this concern at your vet visit. Sedatives (such as Gabapentin for cats and Trazadone for dogs) may be helpful, but remember to test them in advance to see how your pet tolerates the medicine.

Be sure to know all hotel pet policies and make reservations early because most properties have a limited number of “pet friendly” rooms. Locating pet friendly parks and restaurants in advance can also help you and your pet enjoy your time away.

Your pet should always wear a collar with an identification tag (that includes a phone number) at all times. Take your pet’s leash, a water and food dish, bottled water, a supply of sealed pet food, treats, toys, all medication, and a litter box or poop bags. Feed your pet a light meal and go for a long walk a few hours prior to your departure. If traveling by car, stop every 2-3 hours to let your pet go to the bathroom and walk.

Before traveling out of the country with a pet, it is essential to know in advance what health certificates, tests and treatments are required for border entry. Some countries and states will require animals to be quarantined. This process, along with the actual flight time, can be very stressful for your pet and should be discussed with your veterinarian in advance.

If you plan to fly, research your airline’s pet policies and notify them in advance that you are traveling with a pet. All airlines now have very specific crate requirements and some no longer allow certain breeds or pets on the aircraft.

Whether you are traveling by car, train or plane, a pet carrier or crate is important for pet safety. Having your pet on your lap during travel is never a safe option. The pet carrier or crate must be large enough for you dog or cat to stand up and turn around. It should have a waterproof bottom, adequate ventilation and a secure door or zipper closure. The stress of traveling with a cat can be decreased by spraying the pet carrier with synthetic pheromones (Feliway).

Help your pet get used to the carrier or crate before you leave. Putting treats, familiar toys or your pet’s favorite blanket in the crate or carrier is helpful for acclimation. Keep the crate door open so your pet can go in and out willingly. Taking your pet for short drives to someplace fun ahead of your travels will get them used to the car.

Advance preparation for traveling with an animal can make a huge difference on your next trip, both for you and your pet. Happy vacationing!

Laura Nichols is a Registered Veterinary Technician with LakeCross Veterinary in Huntersville. The vets and staff in the big yellow house have been treating pets like family for over 20 years. For more information, go to or call 704-948-6300.