by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM
Many dogs love to ride in the car, but some dogs, and most cats, do not. Even
pets who enjoy the car may not do as well on very long trips. Air travel may get
the trip over faster, but it can be extremely stressful for your pet. Traveling
with pets can be a hassle, but good preparation will ease the stress for
General Travel Info:
All traveling pets (even close to home) should wear a collar or harness with
current ID tags. If you haven’t already done so, consider micro-chipping your
pet. (Rumors about microchips causing cancer are greatly exaggerated). Be sure
the chip is registered and kept up-to-date in an appropriate database, and bring
the chip number and registry contact information with you in a separate pocket
If you will be crossing state lines on your trip, you are legally required to
have a current domestic health certificate for your pet(s). This requires
examination by an accredited veterinarian within a certain time frame (typically
10-30 days). Each state has its own rules, so be sure to ask the states you’ll
be traveling to (or through) for their requirements. A list of state
veterinarians, with contact information, can be found online at the
Vet World website.
If you’re traveling outside the U.S., a special USDA-issued international
health certificate is necessary. It’s best to contact that country's consulate
or embassy for the most up-to-date information. Most countries require a current
rabies vaccine; many require a microchip; and some impose a quarantine. A list
of consulates can be found online at the
U.S. Department of State’s
Most airlines (and most U.S. destinations) require a current health
certificate, as described above. Contact your destination state and carrier for
"Envision a world where pets fly as family members." Having trouble seeing such a place? Animal Airways and their Terminal 4 Pets is trying to change that negative stigma. Together, the companies' version of the flying-with-animals-experience includes services like veteran pet travel agents, professional couriers and escorts and, now, veterinarians in 10 languages on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Pet Airways is definitely worth
checking out for pets who must travel by air. On this pets-only airline, animals
travel in a pressurized cabin with a human attendant who checks them frequently.
Prices are reasonable, and more destination cities are being added all the time.
In the Cabin
On domestic flights (except to Hawaii), a limited number of pets may be
permitted in the cabin. Reservations are required, and there will likely be a
significant extra charge. There is usually a 20 pound total weight limit for
both the pet and the carrier. For in-cabin flight, you can use a sturdy fabric carrier
that will fit under the seat.
Other items to bring along include your pet’s favorite treats and toys, a
harness and leash, pet-safe cleaning wipes, and holistic remedies for anxiety
and motion sickness. See the list below and our
Travel Checklist for more
If your pet must travel in the cargo bay, there are some additional
• Your pet must be secured in an appropriately-sized hard case, with filled
food and water cups.
• Freeze the water in your pet's travel carrier dish to help your pet stay
hydrated longer. (Add flower essences to the water before freezing for a
constant source of comfort!)
• Do not tranquilize pets in flight! Tranquilizers impair the body’s ability
to regulate its temperature—a potentially fatal problem. Use natural remedies
such as flower essences, homeopathics, or herbs (see below) instead.
• Carry a leash with you so that you can walk your dog (or—if your cat is
used to it—use a
kitty harness and leash)
before you check in and after you arrive at your destination. For your pet's
safety, do not put the leash inside the carrier with the animal--it could become
tangled or stuck, or your pet may chew on the leash.
• In warm weather, book a non-stop flight early in the morning or late at
night when temperatures are cooler. In cold weather, consider a microwaveable
heating pad to place under the carrier bedding.
• Use a permanent marker to label the kennel with your pet's name, the words
"LIVE ANIMAL" (or use a pre-printed sticker). Add a tag with your contact
information, both in route and at the destination. Use tape or paint to make the
kennel uniquely identifiable and easy to spot.
• Once you board the plane, ask a flight attendant to confirm that your pet
is safely in the cargo hold. The flight crew will have access to the manifest
and other documentation to confirm this for you.
Natural Anxiety Remedies
Portable Water Bowl
Small Bag/Box of Food
Pet Waste Bags or
On-the-Go Grooming Products
Carpet deodorizer or Cleaner
Here are some resources with great information
on pet-friendly hotels, travel tips, and more:
lodging in the US & worldwide)
www.takeyourpet.com (offers a free
information and travel tips
like those above)