Summer Travel With Your Pet

Summer means vacation for many families, and many choose to make their pets a part of the adventure. To ensure a safe and healthy trip for your dog or cat as you travel this summer, there are important steps to follow beforehand.

How Will You Be Traveling?

Your pets can have adventures with you whether traveling by plane, boat, train or car, yet each mode of transportation will have its own set of guidelines to think about:

  • Air Travel – Most airlines do have accommodations for pets, both for international and domestic flights. The rules may be slightly different for each one, so it is best to contact the airline before buying your tickets to make sure that your pet will be welcome. If traveling with a cat or small dog, it is best to book a flight that allows pets in carriers to accompany you in the cabin to minimize the risk to the animal. Keep in mind that veterinarians discourage pets that have flat faces, like pugs from air travel  because they are more susceptible to oxygen deprivation.

Health certificates from a vet for safe flying are required by most airlines, and you will have to provide that documentation when checking in your pet. If traveling out of the country, further veterinary documentation, as well as additional examinations, vaccinations, or blood work may be required before you takeoff. Do the research ahead of time and work with your vet to ensure that all requirements are met for your pet’s travel. You don’t want to start your journey with your pet watching you fly away.

  • Boat Travel – If you are booking a summer cruise, be advised that very few make reservations for pets, with the exception of service animals. You might be permitted to bring your pet along in a kennel if making an ocean crossing only. As this would cause undue strain on your pet, it is advisable to leave your pet at home, book them for boarding or make other travel arrangements.
  • Train Travel – Like boat travel, train travel is very restrictive for pet companions, as the length of time needed to reach your destination is much longer. Most don’t allow pets to roam freely on trains, for obvious reasons, but kennel travel may be an option. You would also have the responsibility of taking your dog out for walks at selected stops along the way.
  • Car Travel – Contrary to what you may think, pets traveling inside of a car should be crated and strapped in the back seat. Schedule stops along the way to let them stretch out and do their business. Don’t forget to bring along your harness or leash so that you can walk them safely. If you are driving for multiple days, it is also advisable to book your overnight hotels in advance, checking to make sure that pets are allowed.

Packing for Your Pet

Gear for your pet should be easily accessible in a travel bag that is never far from your side. Don’t forget to pack their collar and leash, vaccination records and some of their favorite treats. Always be prepared with food and lots of cold water. Pets don’t sweat like humans and over heat very easily. Depending on weather conditions, your pet my also need sun screen or booties for the hot ground.

Be Prepared

A thorough work-up by your veterinarian before your pet’s summer adventures is essential, whether traveling nationally or internationally. It is important to make sure that they are current on all vaccinations and preventative medicines, like flea and tick control or heart worm. Your pet should be wearing their collar and identification tags at all times. Having your pet microchipped is another safety measure for identifying your pet if their tags get lost. It is important to ensure that your pets’ tags and microchip are displaying your current contact information, as well.

Even though we think of our pets as family members, it may not be in their best interest to bring them on your summer adventures. Traveling causes anxiety in most pets and in many cases they would have more fun staying at a pet hotel or having a sitter watch them while their human family has the vacation of a lifetime.

Safe travels!


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