Travelling With Pets: How To Avoid Pet-Related Emergencies

Travelling With Pets: How To Avoid Pet-Related Emergencies
13 Dec 2019

Most pet owners want to take their pets with them everywhere they go, and that includes vacations; after all, they’re family. That said, there are a lot of precautions you should be taking if you want to take an animal with you on a trip, especially if you’re flying to your destination. We’re going to take a look at some of the precautions you should take before your trip, what to have on you during your trip, as well as what to do if there’s a pet-related emergency while you’re away:

Pre-Trip Precautions

The first steps to any trip will include deciding on how to get to your destination and where to stay when you get there; that’s why so many travel websites will offer to book you a flight and a hotel at the same time. Whether you’re going by plane, boat, or by train to your destination, you’ll first want to ensure that the transportation is pet-friendly. In the same vein, you’d hate to show up at an Airbnb only to learn they don’t allow pets. For travel in the USA, you can use PetsWelcome as a resource, though most travel websites will allow you to add pet-friendly as a filter. When you book appointments in advance, be they for hotels or other accommodations, be sure they’re pet-friendly!

Airlines are one of the most popular ways to travel, but they can be the most difficult form of transportation for pets. The first thing you’ll want to find out is whether or not the airline permits pets of a certain size to travel in the cabin with their owners. Should your pet fit the bill, it can seriously reduce their stress because they’ll be comforted by your presence. What’s more, the cabin is climate-controlled while the cargo hold does not have the same level of comfort.

Travelling With Pets cat licking paw

Animals that cannot travel in the cabin with you will end up in cargo and in many cases, airlines will require you to have what’s known as an Acclimation Certificate. These certificates assert that an animal is healthy enough to fly in particularly cold temperatures. Any time the airline would have the animal in temperatures lower than 45 degrees fahrenheit for an extended period of time, you’ll need a certificate. Your veterinarian will not grant you a certificate if they feel it could be dangerous to your pet’s life. Pets cannot fly in temperatures above 84 degrees fahrenheit. For more information, you can check out the AVMA’s Acclimation Certificate.

A quick note on flying and short-nosed breeds, be they dogs or cats. There are a number of risks that affect these breeds that don’t affect others, namely, they’re more sensitive to changes in air pressure, and stress and discomfort can cause respiratory distress. These animals don’t generally do well in cargo and may even have trouble in the cabin, so consult with your veterinarian and think carefully before bringing them on a flight.

Travelling by boat is becoming rare these days, but many of the same concepts that apply to flying apply here. Make sure the boat is pet-friendly and get a floatation device for your pet in case of an emergency.

Travelling With Pets dog in back of car

When travelling by car, you’re in luck; you can get your pets acclimated to the environment by taking short trips in the car on a regular basis. You can also regulate your road trip more easily than a flight, taking breaks if your pet seems uncomfortable, and keeping them close to you.

You’re very likely to need medical records when you travel internationally with your pet and even within the USA! Hawaii has very strict rules and quarantine procedures for animals due in part to its fragile ecosystems. You’ll also want to make sure your pet is healthy and is ready for the trip. The Allure Emergency Vet Clinic states: “get a check up before travelling and make sure the pet is always comfortable”. Be sure you’re aware of rules and requirements for medical records in the places you’re travelling to.

Wherever you’re going, be sure to get a list of nearby veterinarians in case you experience an emergency. You can get recommendations from embassies or consulates. In fact, you can get a lot of information about pets and travel from them, so don’t hesitate to give them a call.

Travelling With Pets cat on ledge

During Your Trip

Let’s start by addressing a common concern among people flying with pets: should you sedate them? The answer, generally, is no. Sedation can increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems. You should avoid travelling with pets who need to be sedated unless absolutely necessary; it’s stressful for your pets.

Identification is absolutely key. On your trip, you’ll want to have your pet’s ID tag with your name, phone number, and place of residence. You’ll also want a travel ID tag, featuring your name, the number you can be reached at in the area, and information about your accommodations. As we mentioned above, medical records will also be necessary. Keep the phone number of a veterinarian in the area, as well as your veterinarian’s information on you.

You’ll want to have a carrier that fits your pet comfortably while conforming to carrier standards set by whoever you’ve arranged transportation with. You’ll also want all your classic pet apparel: food, water, bowls for each, and small toys your pet is familiar with.

Travelling With Pets pug in car

When An Emergency Happens

Should an emergency occur, you’re thankfully well prepared. Get in touch with the veterinarian you’ve already obtained the contact information for and bring your pet in to see them. Remain calm and soothe your pet. The toys or familiar items you brought with you can help a lot here. Have your pet’s medical history on hand when you go to the vet. Should your pet become lost, you can contact animal shelters and visitor centers in the area. Talk with someone from the accommodations you’re staying at if you need an extra hand. You’re well prepared; you can get through this.


Marianne Pierce

Marianne Pierce has always had wanderlust, and she now enjoys traveling to new and exotic locations whenever she has the opportunity. She has traveled across Canada and the United States, as well as a few far-flung locations across the globe. Nothing makes her happier than a packed suitcase and a plane ticket to a new destination.

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