Travelingin a nutshellcan be stressful. Then, adding in the certain requirements and restrictions of including your four-legged friend, and a fun-filled trip can turn into a major headache. However, with proper preparation and planning, you can avoid many common travel troubles, help ensure your trip is smooth sailing, and is enjoyable for all. Follow these five tips to ensure your trip goes off without a hitch.

#1: Get your pet used to their carrier or crate before traveling

A crate or carrier is an essential tool to keep your pet safe while traveling. However, many pets, especially cats, are unfamiliar with their crate or not used to having to stay there for long periods. Make your pet’s crate their safe space with a soft bed, favorite toy, and long-lasting treat. Introduce them to their crate at least a week prior to your trip, and let them become acclimated by leaving the crate open for them for that period. You can also feed your pet their meals inside their crate—with the door open—to help form a positive association.

#2: Check your transportation method’s pet requirements and restrictions

One of the biggest problems for pet owners is being unprepared for the airline, rental car company, or destination’s requirements and restrictions. Obtaining a health certificate and other documents takes time, so ensure you know what is required well in advance, to ensure you encounter no problems when you arrive at the airport or a country’s borders.

#3: Consider your pet’s comfort when flying

If you plan on flying with your pet, navigating check-ins and layovers can be tricky. Help your pet be calm and comfortable by keeping their needs in mind, including:

  • Purchasing a flight with few or no connections or layovers
  • Choosing departure and arrival times to avoid extreme temperatures—for example, an early morning or late nighttime arrival to a hot destination is best
  • Walking and playing with your pet as much as possible before leaving home, to ensure they are ready to rest during the journey
  • Checking in as late as possible, to reduce the time your pet is spent confined or separated from you

Anti-anxiety medications can help relax your pet while traveling, but may not be a good choice while flying because they make them vomit. If your pet is extremely anxious, traveling by car would be best, so you can administer their medication, and take frequent breaks, if necessary. Consult with your LaGrange Veterinary Hospital veterinarian to determine which transportation method would be best for your pet.

#4: Double up on identification forms for your pet

While traveling, accidents can happenyour pet’s carrier can break, they can slip their collar, or they can dart out an automatic door. Should the unthinkable happen, maximize your chances for recovering your pet by doubling up on their identification.

First, ensure your pet has a sturdy carrier or crate to safely confine them while traveling. Next, check their collar ID tags carefully for wear and tear, legibility, and updated contact information. You may consider embroidering your phone number on their collar in case the tags fall off. 

Additionally, consider permanently identifying your pet with a microchip, which is no bigger than a grain of rice, and implanted by your veterinarian under the skin in between your pet’s shoulder blades. A microchip does not impart any personal information, but, when scanned, provides a unique identification number that is linked to your contact information in a database.

#5: Ensure your pet is healthy enough to travel

Certain conditions, such as heart and respiratory diseases, can preclude your pet from flying, so ensuring they are in good health is essential. Schedule a wellness exam with Dr. Breite to check your pet’s health, receive any vaccinations or blood tests, and provide a health certificate, as required. Before scheduling your appointment, determine the necessary requirements, vaccinations, and health certificates for pets to cross state lines or travel internationally. Airlines and countries have varying requirements, and not being prepared could be a disaster. 

If you are heading out on a great adventure with your four-legged friend, ensure they are ready for travel. Schedule an appointment with our LaGrange Veterinary Hospital team to get your pet ready to hit the road, or take to the skies.