Traveling is always more fun when you have a buddy, amirite?

And, let’s face it, it’s even better when that buddy doesn’t gripe about your music selection or judge your extremely non-nutritious road snacks. Maybe that’s why more and more of us are taking our pets with us–on the road and in the air.

Most dogs, and even cats, can be great travel companions! The three keys to a smooth trip?

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

(Yeah, like the old real estate adage. Original material’s hard to come by, you guys.)

Anyway, preparation. Let’s unpack that:

Carrier: Safe transport is paramount for the little ones, canine and feline. If your pet is of the portable variety, make sure he or she is super familiar with the carrier and sees it as a safe space, not a punishment (treats and patience are your friends). Have the carrier out ALL.THE.TIME. Getting it out at the last minute is a sure way to make them head for the hills.

Paperwork: If you’re traveling the highways and byways (does anyone know what a byway is??) and crossing state lines, it is a requirement that you have an interstate health certificate signed by your veterinarian. You may or may not be asked to produce this document, but better safe than sorry.

Airline requirements: Dude. These change daily, maybe hourly. Definitely airline dependent, and changeable depending on whom you’re speaking to and what kind of day that airline employee is having. So, and I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH, call the airline first and ask what the requirements are. Don’t rely on website information. Definitely get the name of the person you spoke to, and confirm all details a couple of days before you fly. You’ll thank me later.

Proper ID: In a perfect world, our pets would never get lost. But, hey. (Dad joke alert). Shih tzus happen. So make sure your buddy has a microchip and a nice, readable tag with up-to-date contact information.
Anxiety: Your pet’s, not yours. If Fluffy gets really nervous when traveling, talk to your veterinarian about better living through chemistry. There are several very safe anti-anxiety and sedative medications that may be helpful. Anxiety is not a fun headspace to live in, and you want your travel companion to have as much fun as you are!

There are for sure lots of other things to think about before you travel, like having enough food, access to water, medications, places to stay, that kind of stuff. But the main thing I want to leave you with is that you won’t be sorry if you do a lot of prep beforehand. And talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions. It’s kind of our thing . . .

Resources:

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Traveling-with-Your-Pet-FAQs.aspx