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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Community > Blogs > Julie45 > Holiday Pet Travel

Holiday Pet Travel

December 2, 2010 -

The holidays are a busy time of family, friends, and travel which means that Pet Parents are busy making plans with, and for, their pets. It’s important to plan ahead during the holiday travel season. Here are some things to ponder as you prepare for your celebrations.


Traveling By Car

Whether driving five miles to the store or 2,000 miles on vacation, Pet Parents enjoy bringing their pets along for the ride. According to a 2010 AAA survey, only 17% of Pet Parents use some form of pet restraint.

Pet safety is an important part of being a responsible Pet Parent and there are many options available for traveling safely with your pet. Here are a few:


Most harnesses fit over the chest of your dog to provide comfort, in the event of a sudden stop, and have the ability to clip into your car’s existing seat belt system.

Booster Seat

A booster seat allows smaller dogs to enjoy the window view without compromising safety. The seat connects to your car’s seat belt system and can be used with a tether or harness to keep your pet in place while you drive.


Whether in the car or in the air, crates can help safely transport dogs, cats, birds, and small pets. Crates have a seat belt slot to ensure that your pet stays safely in place. Your pet should be able to comfortable stand, turn around, and lie down in his crate. When traveling by plane, be sure to check for specific airline requirements. 


If your dog is a jumper or nudges you while you drive, a barrier might be just the thing you need. Barriers effectively block your pet from reaching or jumping into the front of the car and distracting the driver.


Make sure to plan your travel route to include pet friendly lodging and stops. There are a variety of websites dedicated to helping travelers find pet friendly places. Be sure to double check the company’s website as well to ensure that there are not breed or weight restrictions.

Traveling by Plane

Did you know that animal travel is not regulated by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA)? Animal welfare is actually regulated by the Department of Agriculture which offers the following tips on selecting a carrier for plane travel:

·        Look for one that is put together securely, e.g., locking bolts

·        Look for metal doors instead of plastic (pets may be able to chew through or bend/buckle plastic doors

·        Stronger doors have 4 metal rods that fasten the door to the container

·        Ensure door lock mechanism is strong and effective

·        No wheels -- most - if not all - airlines will not accept a container with wheels

·    Airlines or Air transport organizations do not certify containers. Statements such as "airline accepted" or "IATA Approved" are misleading.

 The Department of Transportation offers these helpful guidelines:

  • Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and must have been weaned for at least five days.
  • Cages and other shipping containers must meet the minimum standard for size, ventilation, strength, sanitation and design for safe handling.
  • Dogs and cats must not be brought to the airline for shipping more than four hours before departure. (Six hours is permitted if shipping arrangements are made in advance.)
  • If puppies or kittens less than 16 weeks of age are in transit more than 12 hours, food and water must be provided. Older animals must have food at least every 24 hours and water at least every 12 hours. Written instructions for food and water must accompany all animals shipped regardless of the scheduled time in transit.
  • Animals may not be exposed to temperatures less than 45*F unless they are accompanied by a certificate signed by a veterinarian stating that they are acclimated to lower temperatures.
  • Animals cannot be shipped COD unless the shipper guarantees the return freight should the animals be refused at destination.
  • Do not give your pet solid food in the six hours prior to the flight, although a moderate amount of water and a walk before and after the flight are advised.
  • Do not administer sedation to your pet without the approval of a veterinarian, and provide a test dose before the trip to gauge how the pet will react.
  • Be sure to reserve a space for your pet in advance, and inquire about time and location for drop-off and pick-up.
  • Try to schedule a non-stop flight; avoid connections and the heavy traffic of a holiday or weekend flight.
  • When you board, try to tell a pilot and a flight attendant that there is a pet in the cargo hold. The airlines have a system for providing such notification, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it yourself.
  • For overseas travel (including Hawaii), inquire about any special health requirements such as quarantine.
  • Write your name, address and phone number on the kennel, and make sure your pet is wearing a tag with the same information. Consider purchasing a temporary tag showing your destination address and phone number. Bring a photo of your pet, in case it is lost.


If your pet is staying home for the holidays, make sure to find a pet sitter or boarding facility early to ensure that your pet has a spot. Boarding can be stressful to pets so try to keep their routine as normal as possible by letting your pet sitter know about special treats or toys. PetSmart’s PetsHotel offers individual or organized play time for pets. Here are a few tips to help your experience run smoothly:

  • Check the facilities vaccination policy. PetSmart requires DPP (Distemper, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza), Bordetella, and Rabies for dogs and FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia) and Rabies for cats. It’s recommended that vaccinations be administered at least ten days prior to check-in.
  • Fill out all paperwork before arriving at the facility. Ensure that directions for medications and emergency contact information are provided.
  • Label any items with your pet’s first and last name.

Tour a PetsHotel http://petshotel.petsmart.com/tour/index.shtml

Entertaining at Home

Sometimes entertaining at home can be just as stressful for pets as traveling: strangers in the house, loud noises, and lots of food. It’s important to stick to routine as much as possible. Try to give your pet a “quiet area” away from all the noise, preferably the room where their bed, crate, or toys are normally located. Remind guests not to feed your pet table scraps as this could make your pet sick.  

Helpful sites

 US Dept of Travel-Pet Travel Tips http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/animals.htm

 US Dept of Agriculture




 American Veterinary Medical Association


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