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Traveling with Your Pet

Traveling with your pet can be an exciting time, but you want to make sure you are thoroughly prepared for everything! Here, we've compiled a number of different resources for tips on traveling with your pet. 

What you should think about when deciding to travel with your pet? 

It's always a good idea to make sure your pet is comfortable traveling. Some pets would rather just spend their time at home, while you enjoy your vacation than be forced into a new environment. Some pets just can't handle traveling due to old age or chronic illnesses. As much as we all love having our fur-babies with us, sometimes it's better to just leave them at home. 

So your pet wants to travel with you? Great! Make sure you have all their tags up to date. Don't forget to update your microchip information as well. In cause your pet gets lost, it is their best chance for being returned to you. 

For international travel, you'll need an International Health Certificate and be required to meet other criteria such as negative tests or microchipping your pet. The certificate is to verify the pet doesn't have any transmittable diseases and is well taken care of. Only some veterinarians are USDA certified and able to complete an International Health Certificate. Make sure your vet is able to do so, or find one that is. The International Health Certificate will also have to be endorsed by the USDA, which requires it to be overnighted to their offices, signed, and overnighted back. Make sure you give yourself enough time to account for this.

We at GVA currently have three USDA Accredited Veterinarians on staff.  Dr. Evans and Dr. Hines out of our Russell Ridge location and Dr. Reiss out of our Camden Village location are all able to issue an International Health Certificate

Make sure your accommodations are pet-friendly. It is also a good idea to bring a kennel with you incase you need to leave your pet alone. Most hotels are now pet-friendly but may require an additional deposit in case of pet damage. Double-check your reservations and make sure they are welcome. 

Who should you contact in preparation to travel?

Contact your vet. If your pet has certain health conditions, your vet may be able to offer some suggestions for making the journey more enjoyable for everyone. If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, it may be beneficial to restock on your pet's medications. It is illegal to fill prescriptions without having a doctor-patient relationship. This means that if you are out of town and your pet needs a refill, you'll have to pay for an exam on top of the refill. 

Contact your travel company or airline. Make sure you are able to travel with your pet through all stages of your journey. If you are flying and putting your pet under the cabin, you may be required to arrive earlier than normal. You may also need to meet certain regulations as well. 

Contact where you'll be staying. Make sure you lodgings are pet-friendly and if you'll need and documentation such as rabies vaccine to keep the reservation. 

If you are traveling internationally with your pet, contact APHIS and the USDA. They will be able to give you all the information you'll need to make sure everything goes smoothly when you arrive at your destination. They will also outline all the paperwork you'll need to present at customs when you arrive at your destination. 

Contact the foreign consulate or regulatory agency. Some countries such as the UK and even states like Hawaii have extremely strict rules for incoming animals. Make sure your pet won't need to be quarantined after you arrive. It is advised you contact the local agency four weeks before traveling, if not sooner. 

What is the safest way to travel with your pet? 

Traveling by car is by far the safest way to travel because you are in full control! You can cater to your pets needs much easier than if you were flying.

Car Travel Tips

  • Keep your pet confined. They should not be roaming in the car. Worse case, if you were to get into an accident, unrestrained objects become 'backseat bullets' and can cause other passengers serious injuries. 
  • Don't let your pet sit in the front seat. If you were to get into an accident, airbags are not meant for dogs and can cause more harm to them than good. 
  • While your pet may love sticking their head out a window, limit it to slower roads or don't let them at all. Objects can fly up and hit them or small dirt particles could get in their eyes or lungs and cause infections. 
  • Stop often! Accidents in your car are not a fun thing to deal with. Period. 
  • If your pet tends to get car sick, there are some medications your vet can give you to help curb it. 
  • Don't leave your pet alone in the car. 

Air travel can be very risky for your pet. Consider driving instead. If you must fly, the safest place for your pet to be is in the cabin with you. Animals with smushed faces such as bulldogs and pugs are more likely to suffer from oxygen deprivation and heat stroke regardless of where they are. 

Air Travel Tips

  • If you are able to fly with your pet in the cabin, take precautions when taking your pet through security. Their carrier will need to either be searched or sent through the x-ray machine. This means you'll need to remove your pet and walk through a metal detector. 
  • Be aware of the dangers of flying with your pet in the cargo hold. All airlines are required to report companion animal incidents that occur in the cargo hold. Dangers include injuries, extreme hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, and rough handling. Not to mention how often luggage gets lost, pets are no different. 
  • Take direct flights. The more changes in flights you have the more likely the pet will get lost. Missed connections or left behind luggage are common occurrences when traveling by air. 
  • Choose early morning or late flights in the summer months and midday flights in the winter. During those times the temperatures are more likely to be moderate. 
  • Notify a flight attendant that your pet is in the cargo hold. 
  • Do not give your pet any type of tranquilizer if they are flying in the cargo hold as it can increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet is on any sort of drugs prior to traveling. 
  • Make sure your crate is approved for air travel. Most airlines will have crate requirements. 
  • Service dogs are welcome on a majority of flights and no matter their size are allowed within the cabin. Airlines will need documentation as well as a signed letter from your vet stating that they are healthy and free from any disease that can pass from them to other pets as well as people. 

What should you bring with you?

Make sure you have your vet's contact information as well as any local vets or emergency clinics near your destination. 

Keeping any forms of identification is also a must-have. Tags on your pet's collar should include your name and phone number as well as house address if there is space. Consider purchasing a travel ID tag with your name, phone number, and address of where you are staying. Make sure to update your pet's microchip information as well. 

Keep your pet's medical records, especially your pet's rabies vaccination, on hand as well. In case of an emergency, they may come in handy for the E-Vet or other hospitals. 

If traveling out of the country, keep your International Health Certificate with you. You may be asked to show proof of a rabies vaccine. 

Traveling is stressful for all involved. Considering bring some personal items to help make your pet feel safe while traveling. Always make sure they have fresh water and bring their own food from home. Abruptly switching your pet's food can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. Bring your own food and water blows as well as any bedding to make them feel safe. Don't forget a backup leash and collar just in case! 

Consider bringing a pet first aid kit as well. Here is a quick outline on how to create a pet first aid kit. 

  • Important phone numbers: Keep a list of important phone numbers such as your vet's office, the closest e-clinic, animal control, and poison control. You may also keep them as saved contacts in your phone for easy access.
  • Vaccine and medical history: Keeping an up to date records of your pets medical history is a huge help for a Veterinarian in case you are unable to bring them into your normal vet. With our new app PetPro Connect, you can keep your pet's up to date records with you at all times! 
  • Muzzle: When your pet is hurt they may react out of character and try to bite. A muzzle is a safety precaution for emergency vets, techs, and other personnel your pet may not know handling their emergency. 
  • Spare leash or collar: In the event you need to cut away your pet's collar or leash, make sure you have a backup. 
  • Gauze: Gauze can be used to both cover a wound but also as a soft muzzle for an injured pet. 
  • Clean towels: Towels can be used to help restrain an injured cat, for clean up or even padding. 
  • Non-stick bandages or strips of clean cloth: These can be used to wrap a wound and help control bleeding. 
  • Self-adhering, non-stick tape: Used to secure bandages.
  • Eyedropper: You can use an eyedropper or a large syringe without the needle to help clean and flush wounds. 
  • K-Y Jelly: Can be used to help protect wounds and eyes. 
  • Milk of Magnesia or Activated Charcoal: Both can be used to help absorb poison (Should be used only if instructed to by your veterinarian or a poison control official)
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide: to induce vomiting. (Should be used only if instructed to by your veterinarian or a poison control official, do not use Hydrogen Peroxide on open wounds).
  • Saline solution: Saline can be used to clean wounds. Contact solution works well and maybe already in your home. 

If you have any questions about traveling with your pet, please contact us