How To Prepare Pets for Safe Travel

How To Prepare Pets for Safe Travel

More pet owners than ever are forgoing kennels and sitters to take their four-legged family members along on their journeys. A Pet Relocation survey found that 42 percent of pet owners travel annually with their cats or dogs, and 90 percent had considered changing travel plans to accommodate pets. As the summer travel season arrives, consider these suggestions before hitting the road with, or booking a flight for, your pets.

How To Prepare Your Pets To Travel

Before making travel plans this summer, do some planning for your pets. Time spent now can prevent some big issues with your pet’s health.

Currently, an outbreak of canine influenza in the Chicago area has many pet owners, kennel operators and veterinarians worried that this disease can spread. By mid-April 1,100 dogs in the Chicago area had been reported ill and six dogs had died of the disease. Symptoms include cough, fever and a nasal discharge.

Researchers from Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin recently identified the strain as H3N2. Originally recognized nine years ago, this canine influenza strain was first found in in Korea and South China. Although humans are not suspected to become infected, cats may be susceptible.

The current strain affecting dogs is different from the H3N8 canine influenza that was first found in 2004. Canine influenza did not make headlines for the past few years and many veterinarians had considered the problem to be a regional nuisance. With the outbreak in Illinois, attention is back on this disease. Vaccinations made for the previously identified strain (H3N8) may not provide protection to the new strain for dogs.

Additional testing and research are required before deciding if continued use of the current vaccine is recommended. Among the factors to consider are potential risks and costs. If traveling to an area affected, use caution to prevent direct exposure to other dogs in parks or other high-contact places. Show or field trial dogs might be at the most risk but dogs that will be kenneled also need to be protected.

Summer is a busy season for kennels and reservations should be made well in advance. In addition, some kennels may now require influenza vaccine. Bordatella, which is a part of the canine cough complex, is universally required for dogs who are boarding



Go mobile.

Make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag that has your mobile phone numbers, and not just your home address or home phone number. You want to make it easy to be reached on the road if your pet somehow gets separated from you. You may even want to purchase an inexpensive secondary ID tag with the address and phone number of where you plan to stay on your trip. If you’ve had a microchip put in your pet, make sure the contact information associated with it is current.

Create a checklist

Go through your daily routine with your pet and write down all the items you need, including the amount of food and any medications. Start a checklist that you update for several days so that you do not miss something important to your pet’s needs. Consider everything, including food, litter or waste bags and favorite toys. Save the checklist to a computer or mobile device and update it based on the location and duration of each trip.

Take a trial run

If you have not traveled much with your pets and plan to take a road trip, go on a long afternoon drive to see how they behave in the vehicle. You may even want to consider staying overnight at a hotel or friend’s home to test the anxiety level of your pets. In some cases, you may discover that your pets’ behaviors or personalities are not conducive to travel and that they would fare better at home.

Update records and meds

It is smart to take your own medical records with you when you are somewhere unfamiliar, and the same is true of pets. Find your latest set of shot records and other veterinary documentation to have on hand in an emergency. You should also plan ahead and anticipate any medications your pet may run out of while you are away from home and then refill prescriptions early.

Review travel restrictions

If you are flying, be sure to read up on your airline’s rules and fees and the requirements for travel. Most airlines allow you to bring pets small enough to fit under the seat in front of you for an additional fee. You may need to call ahead and to reserve their spot, as some airlines restrict the number of in-cabin pets on a flight.

If your pet is larger and isn’t a service animal, it likely will be traveling crated in a separate location from you. There are also some laws about interstate travel with animals – Hawaii, for instance, bans a number of species – so visit the Centers for Disease Control webpage about animal importation to understand those rules more thoroughly. Also be sure to bring updated medical records, as these sometimes are required.

Call ahead

Do not rely on a website or a travel guide to inform you of the pet policies of hotels, motels of campgrounds – call and find out what the policies are in advance to avoid being without a play to stay when you arrive.

“A hotel that says they do not accept pets may make an exception if you note that your dogs are well-trained, will be crated and will not be left alone in the room,” said LuAnn Stuver Rogers, owner of six cavalier King Charles spaniels and editor of “The Royal Dispatch,” the magazine for the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club. She travels 10 to 12 times per year with at least some of them via airplanes, an RV or her personal vehicle