How to travel with pets

Jean Claude Reuille15-Aug-2020

Wanna embark on an adventure with your furry friend? Planning a trip? Thinking how your furry friend will manage at home without you? We understand your love and obsession with your pet. You wish your pet can also tag along with you on your vacation. The modes of transport were never designed keeping in mind the pets. But traveling with pets is a growing trend now.


You know your pet the best in terms of how friendly it can be in unknown places. Do you think you can go through all the multiple formalities to carry your pet?  If your answer to this question is affirmative, then you must make your pet your traveling companion.


Pre-travel preparation is a must when you plan to travel with your pet. If you are able to make the right plan, then you can save yourself and your pet from the discomfort throughout the journey. To calm your worried mind, we have got some travel tips for you that could prepare you to travel with your pets:


Start with research

Prior to departure, try to analyze if your pet is friendly or is terrified of strangers and new places. Give it a thought once as to how your pet usually feel when exposed to changing environments. Once you have decided that you would like to take your best friend along with you, research about how to fly with your pet.


Contact Pet Relocation Company

You can contact a pet relocation company that can guide you on the requirements of the destination, air carriers, route, crating, transit stops, etc. Every country and carrier’s rules are different and keep changing. Log into https://www.ipata.org/ for more information as they have specialist members throughout the world.


A visit to the vet

Visiting a vet is essential as your vet can guide you first if your pet is fit to travel or not. If you are traveling internationally, then you need to meet the requirements of airlines and the destination. Make a checklist of requirements like blood tests, vaccinations required, the normal temperature of pet, respiratory and pulse rate, medicines, health certificate, etc. Share the same requirement checklist with the vet. If your pet is undergoing any medication, special food or may require prevention from flea and tick, ensure you have ample supply available to you from your vet that could last your trip. Ask for the microchip implant if you are concerned about losing your pet while traveling. Check for the sedation option if your pet has anxiety issues. Make sure all the paperwork is complete before the travel. 


Fly with your pet

Before booking, you can browse through the airline’s website or call the customer service number to collect information on the carrier. Every carrier will have a different rule and depending on that, your pet will travel either in the cargo hold or in the cabin. Once you confirm this ahead of time, then just recheck for the health certificate. Every airline may require a certificate from a vet within 10 days before departure. If the trip is longer than 10 days, another certificate may be required at the destination. 


Some airlines like Alitalia, American Airlines (not on transatlantic/transpacific routes), Air France, Delta, Air Canada and United allow pets on board. Sometimes, only small dogs and cats that can be fit under the seats are allowed in the cabin. In such cases, the owners need to take care of during layovers. Whereas Air New Zealand, Emirates, Ryanair, FlyBe does not allow pets in the cabin. They allow only guide dogs to people who have a disability. Sometimes pets below 8 weeks or 12 weeks in some cases, are not allowed to fly. The same rule is applicable for pregnant animals and females with unweaned offspring. Certain breeds are not allowed like aggressive breeds, short-muzzled breed and few cat breeds.


Call the airline to make the reservation for cargo as that cannot be done online. An airline has a limit to how many pets they can take per flight, so it is better to ask if they have space or not. A flat fee may be charged by the airline or it may vary based on the pet’s weight.  A direct flight or a non-stop flight is the best one to choose so avoid connecting flights.


Purchase the right gear

Make a list of all the items you need to carry and all that you need to invest in. You may require water bowls that are collapsible, waste bags, leash and a harness. Some more essentials can also be packed like your pet’s favorite bed or blanket, toys, rain jackets if required, swimming safety vest, pet calming vest that gives gentle pressure to specific areas for reducing anxiety. An old t-shirt of yours that smells like you can be placed inside the carrier for comfort. Ensure no tranquilizer is used on your pet as that could reduce the blood pressure. You can also carry a small amount of dry food and dental chews.


Crate your pet

Unfortunately, you will have to crate your pet if they are going in cargo.  IATA has laid down some guidelines for pet’s safety and comfort. The cage will be IATA approved that ensures ample space to move and lie down, stand and turn around with comfort. It should be ventilated and made up of non-chewable material with smooth edges. It should shut properly and escape/leak-proof. Handles/grips will be better as handlers do not have to put the fingers in the crate to move it.  Purchase in advance so that your pet can get used to it in some time. 


Labelling of the crate is essential. You can label “live animal”. Go for colorful and easy to read labels. You can also label with your pet name, address, the emergency contact information of home and destination both.  You can visit the website of Furry Flyers and check if they can transport the pet for you. Airline’s website can also be checked once if they have any specific requirement.


Travel in train

Train travel could less hassle-free than air travel. It is a healthier option for the pet as you can keep your dog with you. In Europe, you can travel with your pet on most of the trains including Rail Europe and RailJet except trains in Spain, Ireland, Great Britain, Finland and Norway. On Eurostar trains, only service dogs can travel with visually impaired passengers. 


EU Pet Passport issued by the veterinarian is a must for travel of dogs, cats and ferrets. If they are traveling across country borders by train, then a minimum of one current rabies vaccination is required after implanting a microchip 21 days prior to travel.

Guide dogs accompanied by visually impaired passengers can travel for free on European trains. The pet policies of trains are different like Virgin Trains welcome two cats, dogs or other small domestic animals on the east and west coast routes between London & Scotland at no extra cost. On TGY Lyria, pet weighing more than 6 kg must pay a pet fare and wear a muzzle. They need to remain on the ground throughout the journey. It is advisable to visit the website https://www.raileurope.com/ and https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/default.aspx


Throughout the journey, feed your dog with food and water as that is your responsibility. Some small U.S. rail companies may permit animals on board. Rest the interstate trains in the US does not allow pets. Some trains operating in New Jersey and Boston allow small pets to ride if they are leashed or in carriers. Pets can ride mostly on all public transportation in New York if they can be fitted in a pet carrier.

For more information on the US and some Canadian cities, you can log on to https://www.amtrak.com/home


Road Trip

The safest way to travel with your pet is to carry in a crate that has been secured with a seat belt. When you hit the road, the pet should not roam around as it may distract the driver. Your dogs and cats can be safe in a crate so that if the car bounces a bit, they are not hurt. Always keep your pet in the back seat of the car. Make sure the head of your pet is inside the car as any particle coming from the window may hurt your pet or there are chances of cold air being forced into the lungs.


During a road trip, you need to halt frequently so that your pet can be free for some time. Do not allow your pet to leave the car without a collar, leash or ID tag. If you have a human companion, then he/she may also keep an eye on your pet.


Never leave your pet alone in the car. If the car is heated up, then it may cause problems for the pet. It can suffocate or may die. If the temperature outside is around 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside the car can go up to 116 degrees. Pack enough supplies for the journey.


Travel by ship

In case of cruises, some cruise lines may permit pets in private cabins but most of the cruise lines request to keep them in kennels. It is advisable to contact your cruise to seek the policies and kennel facilities. You still have to check your pet frequently if your pet is traveling in a kennel. You have to carry current vaccinations and keep your pet leashed.


Book pet-friendly accommodation 

While making your reservation, you need to book a hotel that allows pets. If you book resort having lawns or beach facing ones, your pet can roam around freely. We suggest you contact the property before you arrive to confirm the policies in place for carrying pets. Alternatively, you can view the policies on the hotel’s website. You can check the option of homestays as well. Throughout the sojourn, you will have to be responsible for the dog’s diet.


Request for an extra towel and drape it over the furniture to prevent scratches. Place a pee pad in the room, in case the dog feels anxious at the new place.


General Tips for pet travel 

In case of food for the pet, if you plan to take a bird or a small animal that eats seeds, then check if the same is available in the country you are heading. Some countries may not allow specific seeds in their country. Try to make your pet get used to dry food.


Carry bottled water on your journey so that the change of diet does not upset your pet’s stomach. An emergency plan must be formulated in case you need to send your pet back home or may leave in the destination country itself. There are few things to be kept in mind like in such situations whom can you call, how the other person will take care of your pet like feeding instructions and medications, where will your pet stay- have one contact person whom you have faith in at home and destination country both and how to pay in case of medical emergencies like operational hours and contact information of medical care. Train your pet to be obedient and friendly so that you do not face hassles during travel.


A first-aid kit containing a thermometer, tweezer, antibiotics ointments, ear drops if required should also be packed. 


Lastly, we recommend some useful gadgets and apps for a stress-free trip like pet trackers that alerts the owner when the pet tries to escape from a pre-designated area. Just like travel insurance, there are pet insurance plans suiting your budget and the needs of the pet.  In this digital era, there are pet travel apps that provide you with information like pet-friendly places.


Hope all the tips will help you overcome the dilemma of carrying your pet on the much-deserved vacation. Our aim is that your pet travels safely and in a comfortable environment. 


Now that you have gone through all the tips, gear up to chalk out a plan to have a stress-free trip and a journey that both of you can enjoy. 

Written by "Jean Claude Reuille" on 15-Aug-2020

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