5 Things You Need to Know About Traveling With Your Pet

If you’ll be enjoying a getaway this summer, make sure to include everyone’s favorite family member…your pet! As overwhelming as traveling with a cat or dog may seem, it’s totally doable if you take a few simple steps to prepare. Jeff Weber, D.V.M., renowned veterinarian and pet parenting specialist, lists five things every family should know about traveling with their furry friend.

1. The more comfortable your pet is with being transported, the easier the trip will be. If you’ll be taking a road trip, acclimate him to car rides through brief practice runs. Once the drive is complete, give praise and a treat. Increase the time gradually so he becomes accustomed to being on the road. Use this same approach to get your pet used to a carrier or crate, putting him inside for ever-longer intervals and giving rewards.

 2. You need to make a thorough packing list. You’ll want to take along the essentials, of course, such as a leash, food bowl, any medications your pet needs, and a favorite toy. But don’t forget important documents as well such as your pet’s medical records and emergency information. Double-check that your pet’s collar-tag has your contact information in case you get separated, and that you have a photo of her on hand. Consider packing medications or supplements to help your pet with car or motion sickness; consult your veterinarian first, though. If you’re traveling with a cat take along a traveling litter box, and since dogs have sensitive GI tracts, fill a gallon jug with your local water. (At every stop, you’ll fill the jug back to the top so that new water is gradually introduced, always mixing with your local water supply.)

3. Always keep pets restrained in a car —either with a harness attached to a seat belt, or a pet carrier anchored in a seat belt. Pets running freely in a car distract the driver. Cats should be contained in a seatbelt-secured pet crate. Try to plan stops around feeding times (and, for dogs, for bathroom breaks). When stopping, make sure to connect the leash to your pet’s collar before opening car door–pets have a tendency to bolt when in strange locations. Never leave your pet in a parked car. A parked car with a panting, nervous dog inside can get very hot, very quickly.

4. If you’re traveling by air, understand your airline’s pet policies. Not all airlines allow pets; others limit the number of animals per flight, in cabin and in cargo. Be sure your pet’s physical condition is compatible with flight. Discuss illnesses, injuries, health risks (e.g., if your dog is very old, young, pregnant) with your veterinarian. Certain breeds, such as collies and pugs, have special respiratory considerations. 

5. If you’ll be staying with friends or family, let them know you’re bringing the four-legged kids too. There may be a resident dog or cat that may not be so welcoming. Make sure to bring some new toys and help out with pet-related chores. If you’re staying at a hotel, check ahead whether pet-friendly rooms are available and on the size of dog allowed. And find out in advance what kinds of pet-friendly activities you can enjoy at your destination, such as hiking and visiting agility courses. With proper planning and preparedness, traveling with your pets can be great fun and hassle-free!

A top graduate of the University of California Davis Veterinary School, Dr. Jeff Weber established his Los Angeles-based clinic, Century Veterinary Group, in 1988. Dr. Jeff cares for the pets of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Eva Longoria, the Jonas Brothers, Lori McLoughlin, Demi Moore, Emmy Rossum, Magic Johnson, and many more, along with those of everyday pet owners. Dr. Jeff has translated a childhood love of pets into a career committed to raising and shaping national awareness of the importance of high quality pet care. To learn more about Dr. Jeff, visit www.drjeff.com.