How to Travel with Your Pets

Travel with your pets can be either be an enjoyable or nerve-wracking experience for both you and your pet. Your preparation will determine which it is.


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    Decide when and where you will be traveling and how long you will be gone.
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    Research if taking your pet is safe and reasonable
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    Check with where you will be staying to see if pets are welcome. This can include calling the hotel or family member. Just because you've had pets there before doesn't mean the policy hasn't changed. Be a polite pet owner and ask.
    • Make sure your pet is well-groomed before you stay somewhere else.
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    • Bring doggie bags to clean up after your dog.
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    Make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and you have a copy of the shot record. Schedule vet appointment if necessary.
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    Determine the best mode of travel for you and your pets. The following steps will guide you through traveling safely with your pets.

Traveling By Plane

  1. Call ahead to the airline to make sure that they can accommodate your pet. Most commercial airlines are pet friendly and will want to accommodate your pet. There are times that they may deny you if there are already too many pets on board your flight. The DogTravel Company is a dog-friendly travel club that arranges in-cabin crateless flights for dogs and their owners. They only cater to dogs, but on occasion may help you travel with other pets if you are relocating and have additional pets.
  2. Find out if you can bring water for your pet. You may be required to buy a water bottle after you have passed the screening area in the airport.
  3. If your pet is any larger than a small dog, they will not be able to sit with you in the cabin area and you will have to check them as cargo.
  4. House your pet in a carrier for the trip. Most pet supply stores will be able to help and many airlines have them. Make sure the carrier is large enough for your pet. Most airlines require that a large dog must be able to stand up and turn around in his carrier.
  5. Never let your pet out of the carrier in the airport. You don't want them to get lost.
  6. Make sure your pet's carrier and the pet themselves have proper identification, including an address and phone number.
  7. Take a leashed pet for a long walk prior to boarding.
  8. Consult your vet about your travel plans before you decide to sedate your pet. The sedative combined with the high-altitude can be very dangerous to some animals.
  9. Make an appointment with your vet and discuss your travel plans, needs for a sedative, get any vaccinations needed and get copies of the vet and shot records. The rabies tag will not suffice and you will need documents.
  10. Have a back up plan. Some airlines do not allow pets to travel as cargo if the temperature in the departure, layover or arrival city is above or below a certain temperature range and the pet may be exposed to those temperatures.
  11. Plan for a weather change while you are gone. What happens when you are on vacation and can't return home with your pet because of a cold front hitting your hometown?
  12. Get your pet accustomed to riding in the carrier. Take it on drives around town. Do this more frequently as your trip nears. If your pet isn't used to traveling in one it may become stressed, cry or have an accident.
  13. Have treats on hand and remember to pad the carrier to make the pet more comfortable. You may want to stash an extra towel and plastic grocery bag in your carry-on in case of a bathroom accident.
  14. Research how you will get from the airport to your hotel. Some cab companies may not allow you to travel with a pet. You may want to arrange for a private car service. Do so far in advance if you are traveling during a peak time and especially around holidays. Remember to request a van if the carrier is large.
  • Remember a pet carrier is like any other luggage or cargo and you are not permitted to leave it unattended at any time. Consider packing snacks since you may not be permitted to enter restaurants with your pet.

Traveling By Car

  1. Keep your pet in a carrier in your vehicle. In case of an accident or sudden stop, you don't want your pet to go flying. There are safety straps that act as seat belts that can be purchased for your pet.
  2. Never leave your pet in a hot car. Even if it is not hot out, a pet can still suffocate.
  3. Consider tranquilizers for your pet. Many of them do not travel well in vehicles.
  4. Put comfortable bedding in the carrier and keep an extra set with plastic (grocery) bags in the trunk in case of a bathroom accident.
  5. Have food and water available for your pet
  6. Take frequent stops and walk your pet. Offer them food and water when you do.
  7. Put a treat or non-squeaking toy in the carrier so they can play. Noisy toys may distract the driver.
  8. Take a leash and collar or harness for walking your pet at rest areas.
  • Also pack a flashlight if you will be walking them at night at rest areas.


  • Be prepared and have the shot records even if you are traveling by car. An accident or car trouble may have you spending the night in a hotel along the way.
  • Begin getting your pet used to traveling as early as six months old. Take it for short car rides.
  • Keep a copy of their shot records with you at all times. This will be requested by airlines but may be requested by a hotel.
  • Hotels change their pet policies often and sometimes the web may reflect the policy incorrectly. Call and make sure!
  • When traveling by train, most of the plane tips apply, with the added bonus that smaller pets that are housed in carriers can usually travel for free.
  • If you are staying with family you should call each time to make sure it is ok to bring your pet. Don't assume.
  • If on long trips with a rabbit, it may help to have it litter box trained.

Sources and Citations

  • The DogTravel Company is a travel club for dog lovers, arranging dog-friendly in-cabin crateless flights, train travel, cruises, vacation packages, accommodations, and auto rentals for it's members. Further information can be found at
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Categories: Transporting Pets | Travel Tips