Traveling with Pets
Since our furry friends are beloved members of our family, it’s natural to want them to share in the vacation fun! Traveling with our pets can be an awesome experience – the key, though, is proper planning and a little preparation beforehand. Before you hit the road for spring or summer break, read our tips for creating a positive experience for both you and your pet, ensuring lasting memories for years to come!
Once you’ve decided that bringing your pet along on vacation is the best idea (Your pet is comfortable traveling or because of age, illness, or temperament it would be better to keep them at home with a pet-sitter or in a boarding facility), schedule a wellness exam with the vet. Your veterinarian can confirm your pet is healthy for travel, ensure all necessary vaccinations are up-to-date and issue a health certificate. Health certificates and proof of rabies vaccination are required when traveling across state lines (contact us for more specifics on international travel). If your pet gets sick during travel, you veterinarian can also prescribe an anti-nausea medication for the car ride.
In the event that your pet becomes ill or injured during the trip, be prepared with a list of veterinary hospitals and 24-hour emergency facilities along the way and at your destination. We recommend using an AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital, if possible. You can search for an accredited practice on AAHA’s hospital locator page here.
We also highly recommend that all of our patients be implanted with a microchip. Microchipping is a fast, painless procedure (similar to getting a vaccine) and is the only permanent form of identification. Microchipping greatly enhances a pet’s chance of getting back to their family if they should get loose or become lost. For more information on the importance of microchipping, read our blog article here.
Once you’ve gotten your pet up-to-date at the vet and have made the appropriate pet-friendly accommodations make sure the following items are packed (Ideally, organized together in a bag):
We’re On Our Way!
When traveling by car, it is important to make sure everyone in the car is happy and comfortable. You should have a proper means of restraint for your pet. Cats and small dogs should be in a clean, well-ventilated carrier and larger dogs should be restrained by pet barriers, pet car seats, or harnesses. Without proper restraint, pets can be a huge distraction for the driver and risk serious injury or death to themselves in the event of an accident. As stated on forbes.com, according to the AAA, an unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure. Acclimate your pet to the restraining method weeks or months before traveling so they are comfortable come vacation time. Also, keep your pet away from open windows. Dogs may love the feel of fresh air, but it is not safe. They can easily be hit with debris or jump out by a nearby distraction (squirrel!!).
Once the road trip is underway, be prepared for frequent pit-stops, once every 2-3 hours. During this time, pets can go to the bathroom, get a quick drink of water, and exercise. Interstate rest areas are probably the best places to stop with pets, as there are designated pet walking areas. During your stops, always remember to keep your pet properly restrained on a short leash, away from strange people, other animals, and busy parking lots and thoroughfares. (We highly discourage the use of retractable leashes. If you must use a retractable leash, keep it locked at no longer than six feet in length.) Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with their ID tag and always clean up after they go to the bathroom.
When you and your two-legged travel companions stop to eat, shop, etc. be mindful of the temperatures if leaving your pet in the car. As we’ve discussed before, car temperatures rise at a much quicker rate than the outside air temperature and just minutes in a hot car can be deadly to both people and pets. As you can see in the chart below, the temperature inside a car can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes and 34º F in 30 minutes. That means if the outside air temperature is 75º F, the temperature inside the car after 30 minutes is 109º F!
What’s more, a study cited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, found that cracking the windows has little effect on decreasing the temperature inside the vehicle. Therefore, it’s best to do a little research and stop at pet-friendly establishments or restaurants with outdoor seating.
For information on traveling with pets by air or others forms of travel, visit the American Veterinary Hospital Association’s Pet Travel FAQ page and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions prior to traveling with your pets.