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Holiday Travels with Your Pet

The following article is courtesy of our partner, Banfield Pet Hospital. Used with permission.

It’s important to plan carefully ahead if you take your pet along with your family on trips, whether it’s a winter holiday trip to visit family or a summer road trip. No matter what your travel plans entail, you can help ensure that your trip with your furry family member goes as smoothly as possible by taking the below information into consideration.

Holiday Travels with Your Pet


Road trips

  • Use a pet carrier. A carrier is the best way to transport a pet in a vehicle. An unsecured pet can distract the driver or interfere with safe operation of a vehicle. Choose a carrier that allows your pet to stand up and turn around comfortably, yet doesn’t provide too much room for extra movement.
  • Replenish fresh water. Your pet needs access to water at all times — especially on long trips and warm days.
  • Take breaks. Most highway rest stops provide designated areas for pets. Your pet will need frequent stops to stretch and eliminate waste. Always keep your pet on a leash and bring bags to dispose of your pet’s waste.
  • Keep your pet comfortable. Don’t leave your pet alone in a vehicle on hot days, even if the windows are rolled down. Because a car’s glass traps heat, the vehicle’s temperature can quickly rise to lethal levels.

Air travel

Always check your airline’s policy on pet travel and find out what carrier size it allows. Because your pet will most likely travel in the cargo hold area of the plane, it’s best not to travel with a pet during extreme hot or cold weather. If you think that your pet requires a sedative, visit with your veterinarian prior to travel to discuss prescription recommendations.

Travel documents

If you cross into another state, you are legally required to obtain a health certificate for your pet no matter how you travel. This certificate is required by the United State Department of Agriculture and can be obtained from your veterinarian. It’s generally valid for 30 days and certifies that your pet is free of diseases.

Unique considerations for cats

If you are traveling with cats, take special considerations and precautions with regard to their unique temperament. In general, tranquilizers aren’t as effective with cats as they are with dogs. Typically, the first 30 minutes of any type of travel is the most difficult for cats. For air travel, this translates to the time spent in the airport.

Prior to taking your pet with you on any trip, consider whether his or her personality, health status and temperament are well-suited for travel. Speak with your veterinarian about your concerns and make an informed decision about your travel plans.

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