Prepare ahead for safety and fun
For many pet owners, a trip just isn’t the same if their four-legged family members can’t come along to enjoy it with them. Sometimes, however, traveling with a dog or a cat in a world that is not always designed to accommodate them can be stressful for humans and companion animals alike.
Whether you are headed out on a road trip or planning to fly to your destination, advance planning is the key to keeping both you and your furry friend comfortable and secure so you can enjoy your adventures together.
If you are planning to stop at any hotels, restaurants or attractions with your pet, then direct communication in advance is always the best approach. Calling or emailing ahead also provides an opportunity to ask about any additional fees, deposits or restrictions that you should know about.
A few national hotel chains are known for being particularly pet-friendly, including nearly all Motel 6, La Quinta and Red Roof Inn properties. There are also a number of websites designed to help find and book pet-friendly travel, like bringfido.com and pettravel.com.
On the road
The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends the following tips to make road trips go more smoothly:
- Prep your pet for a long trip by going on a series of shorter drives together first.
- Keep your pet safe in a secured, well-ventilated carrier big enough to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in, or in a harness attached to a seat buckle (back seat only). Never let them hang their heads out of the window.
- Make a travel kit for your pet that includes necessities like food and water, a bowl, a leash, medication, grooming and first-aid supplies and travel documents. Add a favorite toy or pillow for familiarity and comfort.
- To keep your pet’s stomach steady, avoid feeding them in a moving vehicle and always opt for bottled water in new locations.
In the air
Flying with pets can be challenging. The rules for each airline are different and can change frequently, often depending on the weather. Some airlines do not allow animals at all, and those that do almost always require a recent certificate of health from a veterinarian. Again, communicating with each individual airline well before your travel dates is your best bet.
Both the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommend avoiding air travel with pets unless they are small enough to fit in the cabin, since some animals are lost, injured or even killed each year on commercial flights in cargo, often due to temperature extremes, poor ventilation or rough handling.
If cargo is the only option, however, HSUS recommends minimizing the risk by using direct flights when possible; traveling on the same flight; clearly labelling your pet’s carrier; and, at every step of the way, reminding airline personnel — including your plane’s captain — that one of your best friends is along for the ride.