Written by Dr. Nako Shinohara
Summer is a fun time of year for most of us and our furry friends. Many of us will travel this summer, and you may choose to bring along your pets. Traveling with a pet can be fun and rewarding if planned appropriately.
Are you taking a car trip to the beaches of ME? Or planning a camping trip to New Hampshire? Or perhaps a road trip across the country? Make sure your pet is healthy to make the trip, and is current on his/her vaccines. Your dog or cat should have proper identification (ideally a microchip and a collar with tags). You will want to make sure the campsites and beaches you will visit welcome pets, as well as any hotels you may visit. When you are driving, plan to stop every 2-3 hours for stretching and bathroom breaks. It is very important to remember that you can NEVER leave your pet in the car alone. Heatstroke can occur quickly!
We know it is fun to have your dog sitting on your lap, next to you in the passenger seat or the back seat with the windows wide open. However, all these seating arrangements are very dangerous. Airbags, when deployed, can seriously injure a dog sitting in the front seat. It can also be dangerous for dogs to stick their heads out the window since lots of flying debris can injure your dog’s face, especially the eyes. The safest way for your dog (or cat) to travel is inside a crate that is secured. A small crate/carrier can be placed on the floor against the driver or passenger seat. A larger crate will need to be secured in the trunk space. Seat belt harnesses may be an option but they are not all equal in quality/safety. You can check our the Center for Pet Safety website for more information.
Are you traveling internationally? This will take much more planning, often months in advance! Many countries have their own laws regarding pet travel, and require strict rules about microchip identification and rabies vaccinations. Most countries also require the international health certificates to be endorsement by a USDA veterinarian (all of these within a specific time frame). You can visit the USDA’s website for more information.
Traveling is fun! The key points to remember:
- Make sure your pet is healthy to make the travel. Have your dog or cat examined by your veterinarian and make sure they are current on their vaccines. Make sure they have heartworm preventative and flea/tick preventative
- Make sure your dog/cat travels inside a secured crate/kennel
- If your dog gets nauseous and car sick, talk to your veterinarian about options to help alleviate symptoms
- If planning an international trip, find out what is exactly required by the country you will visit
- If you have any questions, consult your veterinarian