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Traveling with your Pet

Hi Folks! Tuki here on my perch at the Potter League. People are getting very excited about the upcoming holidays and traveling to visit family or exotic locales! It seems to take a lot of planning which I don’t understand because if I want to go anywhere, I just spread my wings and go! As it often does, all this talk about traveling got me thinking about how to travel with the most important family members – your pets!

Traveling with your pets doesn’t have to be complicated – it just takes some planning. First you need to decide where you are going and how you will get there. How and where you travel will dictate the plan for bringing your pet along.

Pet carrier: Whether you are traveling by car or airplane, your pet will be safest and feel most secure in a carrier. When traveling by airplane, check with the airline for their pet carrier requirements. If your pet is traveling in the passenger cabin, their carrier will need to fit under the seat. Pet carriers are not allowed in the overhead bins. If you have a larger pet who is traveling in the cargo hold, the carrier should be large enough for them to stand and turn around. It should be well-ventilated, have handles for easy transfer and be labeled with your name and contact information including your destination. Some US-based airlines don’t allow pets in the cargo hold at certain times of the year or at all so you need to find out what your airline allows.

Some airlines require an acclimation certificate if your pet will be traveling in the cargo hold. This is done when the airline can’t guarantee compliance with the temperature requirements allowed by federal animal welfare regulations. An acclimation certificate is completed at your veterinarian’s discretion, based on your pet’s health, so you should discuss with your veterinarian.

When traveling in the car, a carrier can help prevent injuries to your pet and passengers. Having your pet in a carrier is also less distracting for the driver. Pets should not be allowed to ride on the driver’s lap or near their feet. As much as they seem to enjoy it, dogs should not ride with their head out the window to prevent dirt and debris from entering their eyes, ears, or nose and causing injury.

Supplies: Be sure you have plenty of food and water for the trip with a bit extra in case there are delays. You will need their leash and/or harness for walks to explore their new location as well as some toys to keep them occupied. You may want to bring a favorite bed or blanket to make them feel comfortable in their temporary location.

Health and Medical Records: You want to be sure your pet is healthy enough to travel so talk with your veterinarian about your upcoming trip. If you are traveling out of the United States, it’s a little more complicated than going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house! Each country has its own requirements for documentation and vaccinations so you need to do your research before traveling overseas with your pet. It’s best to start several months in advance so you have time to complete the necessary paperwork and get your pet’s vaccinations updated. There may be a waiting period after a vaccination before your pet can enter another country. Generally, all countries and states within the US require an up-to-date rabies vaccination.

You may want to ask your veterinarian to give you a brief written summary of your pet’s health status to take with you in case your pet needs to visit a veterinarian while you are traveling. Some locations, both in and outside the US require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection completed by a licensed, accredited veterinarian. You can check the requirements for your destination on the US Department of Agriculture pet travel website, www.aphis.usda.gov.

It’s a good idea to have your pet microchipped before traveling, or if they already have a chip, be sure the contact information associated with the chip is current, including your cell phone number. Pets can become frightened in a new location and get lost while looking for a safe, familiar place. Having a microchip may help them get back to you sooner!

Lodging: If you are staying with family or friends while traveling, check with them before leaving to be sure your pet will be as welcome as you are! If you are planning to stay in a hotel, find one that is pet friendly and check with the hotel to see whether there are any size or breed limitations. Try and limit the amount of time your pet is alone in the hotel room. When leaving your pet alone in the hotel, be sure to put the ‘Do No Disturb’ sign on the door and tell the hotel staff how to reach you if there are any problems.

Hope this makes your travel this holiday season a bit less stressful!

Your friend,

Tuki