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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Safely Travel With Your Dog

Safely Travel with your Dog


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No one wants to think about leaving their beloved four-legged family member at home when planning a vacation, but if you're going to bring your pet along for the journey make sure you are prepared to make it as safe and comfortable an experience as you can. 

Traveling by Car
Most pets will be at least somewhat familiar with the car ride, however a long-distance car ride is an entirely different experience. 

Plan ahead. Make sure before you leave on your trip that the hotels you're staying at allow pets. If they do, inquire about size limits; some hotels only accept small dogs and limit the number of pets you can bring.

Get a check up. Visit your veterinarian to check that your pet is up to date on vaccinations and is healthy to travel. If any of your animals are prone to motion sickness ask your vet for remedy recommendations. Make sure to pack your pet's health records including certificate and proof of vaccinations.  

Buckle Up. Use a pet carrier or seat restraint. An unsecured dog may distract the driver or interfere with operation of the vehicle, hurting itself or other passengers. Choose a carrier that allows your dog to stand up and turn around comfortably, yet doesn't provide too much room for extra movement.

Make rest stops. On long trips, it's good to stop every few hours (or more frequently) to let your dog stretch or relieve himself. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash when taking him out of the car for walks.

Provide fresh water. On long trips or warm days, it's essential for your dog to have access to water, but to avoid accidents don't provide unlimited access. Consider bringing along a travel water container

Keep it comfortable. When traveling during hot days, never leave your pet alone in a vehicle, even if the windows are rolled down. Provide as much consistency as possible for your pet trying to follow your normal routine and providing things that are familiar, such as food, toys and blankets

Be prepared. Pack a pet first-aid kitand any past prescriptions that may come in handy in case of an emergency, and have your vet's phone number and a poison control number on hand. 

Traveling by Airplane

Taking your pet on a plane can be a little more complicated than a road trip. Make sure you've made all the necessary accommodations before you head out the door. 

Check the policy. Not all airlines have the same pet travel policies. Follow up with your airline to find out what pet carrier sizes it allows and how the pet is handled in the cargo area. Also inquire if they need any health records. 

Plan accordingly. Your large pets are going to be traveling in the cargo hold of the plane, so it's best to avoid trips during times of extremely hot or cold weather. Include your name, address and telephone number on the crate for identification and make sure your dog has proper and up-to-date identification. You also should provide the name, address, and telephone number of your destination. Note: Some airlines allow small pets to travel with their owners in the passenger cabin, so ask your airline if they can make this accommodation. 

Keep it natural. Most veterinarians don't recommend tranquilizing pets before air travel, because tranquilized pets can have difficulty regulating their body temperature and blood pressure. In addition, sedated pets can lose their balance, which increases their potential for injury.

Get a check up. Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations, particularly any additional vaccinations it needs for your specific destination, and has a clean bill of health for travel. Always carry a copy of the health certificate and proof of vaccinations.

Keep it light. Do not feed your pet just before traveling to avoid an upset stomach during the flight.

Make it comfortable. Bring things familiar to your dog, such as your pet's favorite toy or blanket and place in the crate.



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03 Jun 2010 10:56 am

smilehappy said:

Yes, very important to not leave your pet in the car on summer days. My dog is so furry that it would be like myself wearing a winter coat in the car.

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