How to Keep Your Pet Safe When Traveling

As any pet owner knows, the four-legged friends that share your home are much more than just pets; they’re part of the family. When you’re planning a trip and the idea of leaving Fido or Fifi behind is just more than you can bear, the only solution is to bring him along for the ride. If you’re the type that won’t abide the notion of boarding your pets when you go on vacation, you’ll need to make some special arrangements to ensure that everyone is safe, happy and well cared for. Just as there are travel safety guidelines for the human members of the family, the same exist for the animals under your care. These tips can help you travel in style and safety, bringing your beloved pets along with you to share in the memories.

Traveling With a Pet by Car

The Great American Roadtrip is an institution for many families, and can be one of the easiest ways of traveling with your pets. When you’re not faced with the travel restrictions imposed by airlines, trains or long-distance buses, you’re free to make the arrangements that are most comfortable for everyone involved.

First, it’s imperative that you invest in an adequate, comfortable kennel. A pet with free run of the vehicle can pose a very dangerous distraction for the driver, and can even actively interfere with the process of driving by attempting to climb into the driver’s seat or under the pedals. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of using a crate or if you have a vehicle that won’t properly accommodate one, there are also restraint systems on the market that will act like a type of pet seat belt. Harnesses and straps allow your pet to interact with the people around him, but won’t allow him to run free in the vehicle and wreak havoc.

Second, you’ll want to make sure that your pet is provided with ample entertainment. The image of a dog hanging his head out of the window might be an iconic one, but the ASPCA also discourages this practice. Not only can a high-strung dog leap out of an open window, but the high winds can cause inner-ear damage and airborne objects can strike his head, potentially causing very serious injuries. Pack a few chew toys, a favorite bone and treats.

Because your pet can’t tell you when he needs bathroom breaks or food, it’s important to time breaks properly to ensure that his needs are met. Let your pet out to stretch his legs and relieve himself on a regular basis, but be sure that he’s on a leash or restraint to prevent bolting or wandering away. Whenever you get out of the car, park in the shade and never leave your pet in an empty vehicle on even a slightly warm day.

Traveling With a Pet on Mass Transit

Trains and buses are often the most economical and most convenient way to travel, but you may not be able to bring your beloved pet along at all, depending upon the provider you choose. Before planning your trip, be sure that your chosen provider allows pets and that you’re prepared to meet each and every one of their conditions to do so.

Traveling With a Pet on a Plane

While some airlines have strict guidelines regarding the transportation of pets, even those that allow them may not have ideal accommodations for them. If at all possible, try to look for an airline that will allow your pet to travel in the cabin with you. Some airlines have been known to lose pets traveling in the cargo area, or to handle them improperly. Be sure that there’s only one animal in each crate or kennel and that those containers are clearly marked with your name and all relevant contact information if you do put your pet in the cargo area.

Universal Pet Travel Tips

Regardless of your chosen method of travel, you should make sure that your pet’s vaccination records are up to date and that you have medical records on hand in the event of a pet emergency. Should your pet bite someone or become injured, those records will be essential for administrative purposes. Keep waste bags and scoopers, an extra leash and an extra collar with the relevant identification tags on hand to replace one, should it become lost or damaged.