Veterinary Clinic Guide to Traveling with Your Pet 

Our pets are family, and many of us prefer to travel with our pets when we go on vacation. Your pet can provide amazing companionship during a trip and if you’re driving, a reason to stop and stretch your legs. If you have children, your pet can help keep them occupied, and once you reach your destination, you get to include your pet in all your fun vacation memories. Traveling with a pet does require additional planning to be successful. While it may be more time and effort, we think it’s worth it! Our veterinary clinic guide to traveling with your pet covers some of the factors you need to consider as you’re planning your next vacation. 

Planning Your Trip with Your Pet 

When planning a trip with your pet you need to consider the pet-friendliness of the destination, the travel method, and preparations for your pet before you leave. 

Selecting a Vacation Destination 

Not every destination is going to be ideal for your pet. A trip to Disneyworld for example would require your pet to spend long days alone while you are at the theme park. This wouldn’t be any fun for them, and it would be extra stress on you to make sure your pet has access to use the bathroom, eat, and exercise.  

A trip to a beach would be a better choice. Research the area you are interested in traveling to and make sure they have dog-friendly beaches. National parks are pet-friendly places to vacation. You and your dog can even become  B.A.R.K. Rangers which provides you with all the information you need to know about bringing your pet to a park. And you get a fun badge! 

Research accommodations to ensure you can bring your pet with you. Plan out your stays in hotels or motels to make sure you can book pet-friendly locations. You can find pet policies on the website of a hotel or call to ask. Many pet-friendly hotels will charge an extra fee for fido, and there may be some restrictions on breeds, so be sure to ask questions and do your research. 

Most campgrounds will allow pets, although there may be areas in which they need to stay leashed. Pre-plan your overnight stays at campgrounds, and RV parks to eliminate any surprises in policies or with fees. 

Wherever you choose as your destination, it’s important to research any restrictions or regulations for pets including vaccinations. 

Traveling Methods 

It’s important to know the policies and restrictions that may accompany various ways of traveling.  

Air Travel 

Traveling with your pets when you fly has considerable restrictions and policies. Each airline will have their own set of regulations, however, here are some common requirements.  

Fees 

You may be required to purchase an extra ticket if you have more than one pet, or the airline may charge additional money as a “pet fare”.  

Carriers 

Be prepared to have your pet travel in a hard-sided or soft-sided carrier. If your pet hasn’t traveled much in a carrier, start acclimating them in the months before your flight. Bring treats or toys to keep them occupied on the flight. 

Pets may or may not be allowed in the cabin depending on how full the flight is.  Your pet may be allowed in the cabin but be required to remain in the carrier for the entire flight. The exception to this rule is service animals. They may remain in the cabin without a carrier. Check with your airline for guidelines for the sizes allowed for carriers as these may differ between airlines.  

Airlines also have limitations on the number of pets allowed in a cabin. If they have met that limit, your pet may not be allowed to travel with you.  

Some airlines allow checked pets, but only for members of the military or people who work for the State Department. There may also be breed restrictions for pets including snub-nosed pets like pugs, and bulldogs. Visit the website for your airline to see the complete list of rules and restrictions for traveling with your pets. 

Depending on your destination, you may be required to submit health records including vaccinations such as rabies. Before you book your flights, schedule an appointment with a veterinary clinic like Cimarron Animal Hospital for an annual exam and vaccinations. 

Car Travel 

Traveling by car with your pet is much easier. You make the rules. However, there are some tips to keep your pets safe and happy while traveling you should consider. 

Pet Safety Gear 

Just as you buckle up for safety, it’s important to make sure your pet is constrained either with a harness that attaches to a seat belt or in a carrier. This helps keep them safe in the event of a car accident. 

Pack Smart 

Be sure to pack the essentials including food, water, bowls, and waste bags. If your pet requires medication, make sure you have enough for the trip and pack that as well. You will want to make sure they are wearing a collar with updated contact information, a good leash, bedding, and treats and toys. Don’t forget to pack a pet emergency first aid kit as well. 

Stop for Breaks 

You will need to take bathroom breaks and so will your pet! They will also travel better if they can exercise and explore on the way to your destination. Bring bottled water so they can stay hydrated as they take a break to stretch their legs.  

Preparing Your Pet for Travel 

If you are traveling by air, and internationally, there are requirements for vaccinations you must follow. However, even if you are traveling by car, ensuring your pet is up to date on vaccines is smart. As they explore new areas they will be potentially exposed to bacteria or viruses that can make them sick. Vaccines from a veterinary clinic protect your pet. 

Microchipping your pet is also recommended. In case your pet becomes lost or strays away from you, a microchip will help reunite you much faster. If your pet is already microchipped, make sure your contact information is still accurate, especially if you have moved or changed phone numbers. 

Leaving Your Pet Behind 

Sometimes it’s simply not possible to travel with your pet. If your pet must stay behind, you can either board them in a kennel, or use a pet sitter. 

Boarding Your Pet 

You may search for “animal boarding near me” to find a reputable boarding facility and read reviews. You can also get a referral from your veterinary clinic if you need a place to board your pet. Cimarron Animal Hospital offers pet boarding services

You will want to tour the facility to see how clean it is and ask questions about their staff experience and pet interaction time. If you board your pet you will want to leave some familiar items with them (toys, bedding), and medications. 

Leaving Your Pet with a Pet Sitter 

It may be beneficial to hire a pet and house sitter while you are away. Talk to family and friends for recommendations or you can check with services such as Rover.com. Before you leave, schedule a meet, and greet session. This will ensure that your pet sitter, your pet, and you are a good match. 

You will also want to create detailed instructions for pet care. What are your pet’s quirks or habits that a pet sitter will need to know? Write down everything you can think of to help the pet sitter understand your pet better and create a comfortable environment for your pet while you’re away. Purchase enough food and treats to last while you are away and give instructions for when and how much your pet is fed.  

In case of emergencies, write down the name and contact information of the veterinary clinic, like Cimarron Animal Hospital. It would also be wise to leave a credit card for medical emergencies or put one on file with us at Cimarron Animal Hospital. 

Travel Smart & Have Fun 

Hopefully, you can plan vacations that include your pet for lots of family fun and memories. If you can travel with your pet, take steps to ensure they are safe and comfortable. This includes vaccinations and checkups with a veterinary clinic like Cimarron Animal Hospital.  

In cases in which you can’t take your pet, do your due diligence to choose a safe and reputable boarding facility or pet sitter. 

If you need to schedule an appointment for examinations, vaccinations, or microchipping before your vacation, or if you need pet boarding, contact Cimarron Animal Hospital.  

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