Now more than ever pets are on the go! Whether you travel by plane or automobile, planning for your pet’s travel ahead of time will ensure a safe and smooth trip for both you and your furry friend.

The Basics

When considering the thought of bringing your pet along for the ride, it is important that you consult with your pet’s veterinarian and tell him about your travel plans. Make sure that your pet is healthy enough to travel and that there are no issues that might prevent your dog or cat from having an enjoyable trip.

Your veterinarian will be able to recommend ways to reduce any anxiety your pet might have about traveling, especially if your pet will experience some method of travel that he is not use to, such as an airplane flight.

While consulting with your veterinarian, make sure that all of your pet’s vaccinations are current.  A copy of your pet’s vaccinations and medical records should be packed. This is particularly important is you are flying or staying at a hotel. If traveling overseas, a recent (within 10 days of travel) certificate of veterinary inspection—health certificate—may be necessary. 

No matter how you plan to travel, make sure that your pet is wearing a secure collar and his Broward County Rabies Registration Tag. The tag acts as your pet’s cell phone and is a good way to help ensure that your pet will be returned to you in case you are separated from each other. An additional form of identification is also helpful such as a name tag, microchip or tattoo. 

Fido’s Suitcase should include:

  • His water/food bowl
  • Regular dry or can food (or whatever your veterinarian recommends as part of a travel diet)
  • Bottles of water
  • First-aid kit
  • Any medication
  • Leash, as well as an extra leash in case one gets lost or damaged in transit
  • Collar/harness with attached Broward County Rabies Registration Tag and a name tag with your cell number
  • Favorite toys
  • Favorite bedding
  • Picture of your pet (for identification purposes)
  • Copy of medical records and vaccination certificates (if necessary, a special health certificate from a veterinarian)

Fluffy’s suitcase should include:

  • Her water/food bowl
  • Regular dry or can food (or whatever your veterinarian recommends as part of a travel diet)
  • Bottles of water
  • First-aid kit
  • Any medications
  • Leash (so you have better control of Fluffy when removing her from the travel carrier)
  • Collar/harness with attached Broward County Rabies Registration Tag and a name tag with your cell number
  • Favorite toys
  • Favorite bedding
  • Disposable litter pan/litter
  • Picture of your pet (for identification purposes)
  • Copy of medical records and vaccination certificates (if necessary, a special health certificate from a veterinarian)

Travel by Car

Before your road trip

  • Consider whether or not your pet enjoys riding in a vehicle before committing to a long road trip. A car-sick pet is sure to make the journey miserable for everyone. If your dog or cat is prone to carsickness, consult with your veterinarian for the best way to make your pet’s trip more comfortable.
  • Take small road trips with your pet first so he can get used to riding in the car.
  • Plan your route so that you are allowing enough time for potty breaks, walks and meals.
  • If staying with friends or family along the way, be considerate and ask them in advance if your pet is welcome.
  • If staying at hotels, motels, parks, and campgrounds, check ahead of time so make sure pets are allowed or if kennel facilities are available. If a hotel or motel claims to be "pet friendly," clarify exactly what that means to be sure it will accommodate you and your pet's needs. 
  • If you and your dog are staying with friends or at a hotel, bringing along a portable kennel for use in hotel rooms or the homes of friends or relatives who are not comfortable allowing your pet to roam freely when no one is home.
  • Purchase a cat carrier for your feline. Cats should always be confined to a cage or in a cat carrier to allow them to feel secure and prevent them from crawling under the driver's feet.  Place her favorite toy in the carrier.
  • If your pet must ride in the truck bed of a pickup, he should be confined in a protective, well ventilated kennel that is fastened to the truck bed.
  • If your dog is usually active in the car and prone to getting in the way of the driver, consider purchasing a special harness or doggie seatbelt that will act as a constraint for your active passenger. It will also protect your dog in case of an accident. Take time to train your dog how to wear the seatbelt so he is used to it when the trip begins.

During the Road Trip

  • Try to keep your pet’s feeding schedule as close to his regular home schedule as possible.
  • Bring along his regular food and have on hand bottles of water so that you will not have to rely on finding water. 
  • Feed smaller portions of food, or whatever portion and type of food your veterinarian may have recommended for your pet during the trip.
  • Dogs riding in a car should not ride in the passenger seat if it is equipped with an airbag, and should never be allowed to sit on the driver's lap.
  • Don't let your pet ride with its head outside the car window as particles of dirt or other debris can enter his eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infection.
  • Make sure your dog, and even cats, are on a leash at all times. A nervous pet may dart from an open car door. A leash will provide more control over your pet when opening the vehicle or the cat carrier. In addition, most communities have “leash laws” that require pets to be on a leash when in public.
  • If your pet must be left alone in a hotel room, place a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and inform the maid and the front desk staff. Make arrangements to have your room cleaned when you plan to walk your dog.
  • NEVER leave your pet unattended in a car!

Hotel/Motels

More than ever, hotels are accommodating not only their two-legged guests, but also their four-legged guests. However, in order to avoid surprises, be sure you properly research the hotel you are planning stay at and ask lots of questions before your make a reservation.

  • What is their definition of “pet friendly?” Does that term only refer to small dogs or cats, and service animals, or does it also include large pets, such as a Great Dane?
  • Is there any ban on particular breeds, such as Pit Bulls?
  • What kind of vaccinations/medical documents will you have to show upon check-in?
  • Do you need to show that your pet is licensed in its home town?
  • Is there any special deposit that will need to be placed for your pet to stay at the hotel?
  • Are there any additional daily rates?
  • What areas of the hotel premises are off limits to your pet?
  • Where will you be allowed to walk your pet?
  • If your dog or cat barks/meows a lot, ask for a room further away from other guests if possible.

For a list of Pet-Friendly hotels nationwide check out these websites:

Travel by Plane—Domestic Flights

Traveling by air requires extra planning and a clear understanding of the airline’s policies on pet travel.

Federal regulations require that pets be at least eight (8) weeks old and weaned at least 5 days before flying. Most airlines that will transport pets require a certificate of veterinary inspection (health certificate) that is issued within 10 days prior to travel. Today, many major airlines allow cats and small dogs to travel in specially designed carry-on luggage that will fit underneath the seat.

Things to Consider when Booking Travel:

  • Consult with the airline you plan to travel on first. Read their website and speak with their Customer Service representative to be clear on their requirements and fees concerning traveling with your pet.
  • Where are you traveling and what time of year? Are you flying to a warm climate or a cold one? Is your pet used to the weather you are traveling to (will your Florida dog be able to cope with winter in Buffalo, NY)? These considerations are important with airplane travel since pets that fly in the cargo hold of a plane can possibly experience a major shift in temperatures. See the item below.
  • When planning your trip remember that airlines will not accept your pet in their cargo/luggage compartment if the airline cannot prevent exposure of the animal to temperatures less than 45 degrees F (7.2 C) or more than 85 degrees F (29.5 C) for more than 45 minutes when the animal is transferred between the terminal and the plane, or for more than 4 hours when the animal is in a holding facility. However, the prohibition against exposure to temperatures below 45 degrees F is waived if a veterinarian provides an acclimation certificate stating that the dog or cat can be exposed to lower temperatures (think Alaskan Malamute dog)! Your veterinarian cannot issue a certificate allowing exposures to temperatures above 85 degrees F for more than 45 minutes.
  • Whenever possible, book a NONSTOP flight and avoid plane changes and busy holidays.
  • During warm weather months, choose early morning or late evening flights.
  • In colder months, choose midday flights.

After Booking Your Flight:

  • Take your pet to the veterinarian for a physical and any necessary vaccinations.
  • Ask your veterinarian for specific feeding instructions. For your pet's comfort, air travel on an almost empty stomach is usually recommended. The age and size of your pet, time and distance of the flight, and your pet's regular dietary routine will be considered when feeding recommendations are made. DO NOT give tranquilizers to your pet when traveling by air because they can increase the risk of heart or respiratory problems.
  • Buy a sturdy, airline-approved crate. Make sure there are no weak spots in the crate’s construction.
  • Make sure your pet is used to the crate or whatever travel carrier you will be using during the flight (see Travel Crates 101 below).

The Day Before you Fly:

  • Reconfirm your flight arrangements to ensure there have been no unexpected flight changes.
  • Begin whatever feeding schedule your veterinarian may have recommended.
  • Pack your pet’s suitcase!

The Day of the Flight:

  • Arrive at the airport early, exercise your pet, personally place him in his crate. 
  • You may be asked to remove your pet from his carrier at security so the carrier can be put through an x-ray scanner. To minimize the chance that you will have to chase a loose pet through the airport, put a halter or collar and leash on your pet before you put it in the travel carrier.
  • When boarding the plane, let the flight attendant know that your pet is in the cargo hold.
  • If your pet will be traveling with you in the cabin, arrange to check-in as late as possible to reduce the amount of time your pet will have to spend in the busy terminal.

After you Land:

  • If your pet traveled in the cargo hold, claim your pet as soon as you arrive at your destination. 
  • Take your pet out to relieve himself as soon as possible or clean the litter pan if necessary.
  • Reassure your pet that he is safe and give him water and food based on your veterinarian’s feeding recommendations.

Travel by Plane—International Flights

Traveling by air requires extra planning and a clear understanding of the airline’s policies on pet travel, especially when flying overseas. Federal regulations require that pets be at least eight (8) weeks old and weaned at least 5 days before flying. Most airlines that will transport pets require a certificate of veterinary inspection (health certificate) that is issued within 10 days prior to travel. Today, many major airlines allow cats and small dogs to travel in specially designed carry-on luggage that will fit underneath the seat. 

Things to Consider when Booking Travel:

  • Consult with the airline you plan to travel on first. Read their website and speak with their Customer Service representative to be clear on their requirements and fees concerning traveling with your pet.
  • Always check with the country’s consulate or embassy you and your pet are traveling to. Each country has its own set of rules, some of which can be complex. Be sure you understand what you will need to do in preparation before you travel and what has to be done after your land.
  • Some countries require a Heath Certificate signed by a U. S. government official. This certificate is NOT the same as a Rabies Certificate. Not all veterinarians are authorized to issue a Health Certificate, check with your veterinarian to find out whether he is authorized, if not ask him where you can go to receive the certificate. There is a fee for issuing the Health Certificate.
  • Where are you traveling and what time of year? Are you flying to a warm climate or a cold one? Is your pet used to the weather you are traveling to (will your Florida dog be able to cope with an Austrian winter?). These considerations are important with airplane travel since pets that fly in the cargo hold of a plane can possibly experience a major shift in temperatures. See the item below.
  • When planning your trip remember that airlines will not accept your pet in their cargo/luggage compartment if the airline cannot prevent exposure of the animal to temperatures less than 45 degrees F (7.2 C) or more than 85 degrees F (29.5 C) for more than 45 minutes when the animal is transferred between the terminal and the plane, or for more than 4 hours when the animal is in a holding facility. However, the prohibition against exposure to temperatures below 45 degrees F is waived if a veterinarian provides an acclimation certificate stating that the dog or cat can be exposed to lower temperatures (think Alaskan Malamute dog)! Your veterinarian cannot issue a certificate allowing exposures to temperatures above 85 degrees F for more than 45 minutes.
  • Whenever possible, book a NONSTOP flight and avoid plane changes and busy holidays.
  • During warm weather months, choose early morning or late evening flights.
  • In colder months, choose midday flights.

 After Booking Your Flight:

  • Take your pet to the veterinarian for a physical and any necessary vaccinations. 
  • If an additional Health Certificate is needed, locate a veterinarian that will issue one. The certificate must be issued within ten (10) days of your flight.
  • Be sure you have all other necessary paperwork in order.
  • Ask your veterinarian for specific feeding instructions. For your pet's comfort, air travel on an almost empty stomach is usually recommended. The age and size of your pet, time and distance of the flight, and your pet's regular dietary routine will be considered when feeding recommendations are made. DO NOT give tranquilizers to your pet when traveling by air because they can increase the risk of heart or respiratory problems.
  • If you are staying at a hotel overseas, be sure that they allow your type/breed of pet and find out what type of documentation they will need to allow your pet to stay. Ask if there are any additional fees involved beyond the regular room rate.  Ask the hotel if there are any local laws you should be aware of regarding takin your pet out in public.
  • Buy a sturdy, airline-approved crate. Make sure there are no weak spots in the crate’s construction.
  • Make sure your pet is used to the crate or whatever travel carrier you will be using during the flight (see Travel Crates 101 below).

The Day Before you Fly:

  • Reconfirm your flight arrangements to ensure there have been no unexpected flight changes.
  • Begin whatever feeding schedule your veterinarian may have recommended.
  • If necessary, confirm your hotel reservations and the information you were given regarding paperwork, fees and local laws.
  • Pack your pet’s suitcase!

The Day of the Flight:

  • Arrive at the airport early, exercise your pet, personally place him in his crate.
  • You may be asked to remove your pet from his carrier at security so the carrier can be put through an x-ray scanner. To minimize the chance that you will have to chase a loose pet through the airport, put a halter or collar and leash on your pet before you put it in the travel carrier.
  • When boarding the plane, let the flight attendant know that your pet is in the cargo hold.
  • If your pet will be traveling with you in the cabin, arrange to check-in as late as possible to reduce the amount of time your pet will have to spend in the busy terminal.

After you Land:

  • If your pet traveled in the cargo hold, claim your pet as soon as you arrive at your destination.
  • Follow the requirements of the custom’s agent or the airline staff since your pet may need to be quarantined before entering the country.
  • Take your pet out to relieve himself as soon as possible or clean the litter pan if necessary.
  • Reassure your pet that he is safe and give him water and food based on your veterinarian’s feeding recommendations.

TRAVEL CRATES 101

Defective kennels are the most common cause of escaped or injured animals during air travel!

Approved transport crates, available from most airlines or pet stores, must:

  • Be large enough to allow the animal to stand (without touching the top of the cage), sit erect, turn around, and lie down in a natural position.
  • Latch securely.
  • Be strong and free of interior protrusions, with handle or grips.
  • Have a solid, leak-proof bottom covered with plenty of absorbent material.
  • Be adequately ventilated so that airflow is not impeded.
  • Be appropriately and clearly labeled. Include your name, home address, home/cell phone number, and destination contact information.
  • Place a label marked "Live Animals," with arrows indicating the crate's upright position.
  • Take time to accustom your pet to the crate in which it will be traveling. Add bedding or padding to the bottom for comfort, as well as a favorite toy.

Travel by Bus or Train

Most states prohibit animals from riding on buses and trains. Exceptions are made for guide and service dogs accompanying blind and disabled persons.

Travel by Cruise Ship

Pets are not allowed on cruise ships since all cruise lines have very strict sanitation and health codes. In addition, cruise ships always sail to ports in more than one country. Many of these countries have strict quarantine and entry requirements for any animals entering the country.

For more information and helpful tips on traveling with your pet