Summer means vacation and travel! This year, bring your pet along. A little planning  makes for stress-free travel, and your pet will enjoy the ride. Staples Mill Animal Hospital veterinary professionals are here to help you prepare for traveling with your pet. Whether your pet is a first-timer or a seasoned traveler, preparation can prevent unexpected roadblocks. 

Prepare your pet for travel

Before you leave home, ensure your pet’s vaccinations and parasite preventives are up-to-date, and that their microchip is in place and functioning. Our veterinarians can provide your pet’s Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (i.e., health certificate), which you will need if you and your pet will be crossing state lines or flying. Keep a copy of the certificate on your phone for quick access. Before traveling, ensure that your pet becomes accustomed to wearing a well-fitted harness and becomes acclimated to their carrier or airline crate.

Know your pet’s air travel risks

If you plan to fly, consider your pet’s temperament, and realistically assess whether they would do well on a plane. Tranquilizers or sedatives can be risky, as they may depress pets’ respiratory function, heart rate, and blood pressure, but some pets benefit from anti-anxiety medication. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that pets, especially short-nosed breeds whose respiratory risk increases during a flight, should not ride in the cargo hold. Your pet’s in-cabin carrier should be large enough for them to stand and turn around, but not so large that they get jostled during turbulence. If possible, book a direct flight to avoid the added stress of lengthy layovers.

Plan for international pet travel

If you are planning to travel internationally with your pet, begin by consulting our team six months or more in advance. International certificates of veterinary inspection, rabies titers, vaccination certificates, and other requirements vary between countries, and require exact timelines. Paperwork problems can hinge on details as small as date formats, or as complicated as your pet’s immunization timing. Remember to check in early with our team during  international trip planning to avoid pet quarantines, lengthy delays, or other issues.

Bring everything your pet needs

Bring enough of your pet’s usual food to last the trip’s duration, and try to maintain their normal feeding schedule. If driving, stop frequently (e.g., every two to three hours), and use the rest stop’s dedicated pet areas to keep your pet away from vehicles. You never know when you may be away from home longer than anticipated, so bring enough of your pet’s medication to cover several extra days. Before you leave home, look up your destination’s local veterinary emergency hospital and save their contact information in your phone.

Prevent your pet’s car sickness

Many puppies experience motion sickness during car rides, but may “grow out of it” as they mature. If you have a puppy or a dog who suffers from motion sickness, our veterinarians can prescribe medication to prevent canine motion sickness, and help your furry traveling companion avoid nausea and vomiting. 

Follow the pet rules of the road

To prevent your pet from being injured during vehicle travel, follow the AVMA’s guidelines

  • Pets should never ride unsecured in the back of a truck.
  • If pets must ride in the back of a truck, confine them to a protective kennel secured to the truck bed.
  • Pets should not hang their heads out of a moving vehicle’s windows.
  • Pets should not roam free inside vehicles.
  • Larger dogs should wear a harness attached to the vehicle seat belts.
  • Smaller dogs and cats should ride in a carrier.
  • Pets should never be left unattended in a vehicle.

Ensure a pet-friendly destination

These days, pet-friendly hotels and rentals are everywhere, and some places cater to pets by providing special activities or play areas. Spending time at the beach? Many coastal areas have dedicated dog beaches for your furry friend’s enjoyment—so pack your doggie life vest. Would your pet appreciate a canoe ride? Many canoe rental operators welcome your canine sidekick—but don’t expect them to doggie paddle! If your dog is active, take a hike—interesting trails abound everywhere. Remember, a little planning goes a long way to ensure you and your pet’s enjoyment.

Staples Mill Animal Hospital knows your pet’s behavior and temperament, medical history, and health conditions, so let us help you plan a trip that is right for both of you. We invite you to talk with our team about pet travel safety, so you and your pet can get on the road again—and avoid unexpected roadblocks.