How to travel safely with your pet: by car, airplane or train

Safe traveling with pets

For many people, traveling is stressful. Long road, change of scenery, time zone, and climate - all these things make us nervous, let alone our pets. But, sometimes you have to take your pets on trips - and you need to take care of their transportation in advance. Each type of transportation (by car, by plane, or by train) has its own characteristics.

If you are traveling with pets you need to prepare your four-legged friend for a trip and to create the most comfortable conditions for him.

Traveling when you have pets could be challenging. To simplify this process we will tell you about the main rules and nuances.

What do you need to travel with pet?

The first and most important thing before a trip is to assess your pet’s health and physical well-being. If the pet is very young or, conversely, elderly, or has serious health problems, it is best to leave it at home. For some breeds with flattened faces (such as Persian cats, bulldogs or pugs), flights can be extremely dangerous - they are sensitive to oxygen deficiency and high temperatures. The best solution would be to consult your vet, especially if you are traveling this way for the first time.

The next important step is to check whether your destination permits entrance for pets. Many destinations have strict rules regarding the transportation of animals. For example, there is a quarantine period (120 days) for dogs and cats in Hawaii, as it is free of rabies.  In Uruguay, it is forbidden to import any type of bird. In some countries, the import of dogs of fighting breeds is prohibited.

You should definitely bring a first-aid kit for pets. Among the things that should be in the first aid kit: a pet thermometer, ear drops, gauze, antibiotic ointments, tweezers. It is best to consult your vet for a complete list.

Another important point is the documents and the necessary vaccinations. About a month and a half before the trip, you need to visit a veterinary clinic, where the animal will receive the necessary injections, chip and issue a veterinary passport (if you don’t have one). Vaccinations for the animal should be done no earlier than 12 months and no later than 30 days before the trip; the chip also needs to be implanted in at least a month. When traveling abroad, it is worth considering the requirements of the country where you are going: perhaps the animal will need vaccination for the trip, which is not done in all hospitals. Furthermore, the pet needs to be treated for parasites a few days before the trip.

On the road you won’t do without a crate. Make sure it is sturdy and correctly sized for your pet. If a crate is too small, it will be very uncomfortable for a pet. If a crate is too large, your pet will be tossed around during handling. Before bringing the animal on a plane, don’t forget to read airline’s requirements regarding crate size, weight, material and design.

Training your pet is necessary. If a pet responds to your commands, it will stay in patience while on the road.

Don’t forget to use proper identification. You need to put on the pet’s collar information about rabies vaccination, your name, address and phone number, local contact numbers. If an unforeseen situation occurs, it could save your pet’s life.

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Traveling by car

A hundred to one, traveling with pet in car is the most convenient type of such trip. There are no strangers around, you have the opportunity to stop at any time and you can create the most favorable conditions.

But, if you travel with animals in the car, you need to know about the basic safety rules for your pet and about important things to remember.

We will tell you how to travel with pets in car and what you need for this.

It’s better to place the dog in the back, if you have a station wagon. It is best to place a special partition between the trunk and the passenger compartment. There are also a wide variety of cages for the wagon trunk. Very often there is a special rubber coating on the floor so that the cage with your dog does not slip, and there are special sliding panels on the sides. Also there are some cages for transporting small dogs in the car, and special carrying for animals that can be attached in the back seat. Make sure the cage is firmly attached. The wire mesh provides good ventilation of the cage and allows the animal to look around. It is recommended to remove the collar while your dog is in the cage in case it catches on the wire.

Small dogs, cats and rabbits can travel in the car in special carriers. Make sure it is reliable mounted on the seat.

Traveling with cat in car requires the presence of a carrier or a special harness and a seat belt.

You need to use special belts for your pets’ safety (if you carry them in the back seat): they are designed in such a way so that the animal cannot get entangled in them or suffocate. They are inexpensive and can save your pet’s life.

Many dogs love to stick their heads out the window of the moving car. This is very dangerous: in case of sudden braking, the front frame of the window can cut the animal's neck. In addition, dust and foreign objects can get into the dog’s eyes.

It will be a good solution to buy a window net. On a very hot day, if your car does not have air conditioning or your animal prefers fresh air, they are a salvation. Air passes through such nets, but at the same time they are a sufficient obstacle to prevent the beast from escaping through the window.

If you travel with your pet for the first time you need to monitor its reactions. The pet can’t say: “Stop the car, I’m sick”.

Your pet should not associate a car with a stressful trip to the vet. Take him to some nice place by car before a long trip. Try to make your pet feel comfortable by being close to the person he/she trusts.

It will be useful to take a pet kit with you and consult vet how to provide first aid if your pet becomes ill.

Also, it is necessary to make stops every 2-3 hours and give water to the pet to avoid dehydration.

Don't leave your pet alone in a car

Road trip with pets may include the fact that you’ll need to leave your pet for a while.  Regardless of the time of year, do not leave your pet alone in the car. Especially in the summer, do not let this situation happen. Being in the sun, the car heats up very much and your pet can easily get heatstroke. Left ajar windows and water in the car won’t help.

Parking in the shade also will not solve the problem of overheating. A bit slower, but the car heats up. The sun moves all the time and the machine left in the shadows will after some time end up in the sun itself.

Please, respect pet in car laws. Take care of the health, tranquility and comfort of your pet. You are responsible for it.

It is worth remembering that an animal, having spent even a short time in a car, receives great risks of getting heatstroke later. And health problems may occur several days later.

Symptoms of heatstroke of an animal are similar to human ones, but with the difference that a pet cannot say this himself. You can easily understand that your pet has a heat stroke, if the animal is very excited, does not find a place for itself, the body temperature is very high, which is felt when you touch the pet. Gait uncertain, shaky, coordination of movements is broken. Salivation increases. If you do not pay attention to these symptoms, in the future the excitement will be replaced by apathy, breathing becomes difficult, the animal stops responding to everything. Vomiting and convulsions may appear.

If, nevertheless, your pet has suffered a heat stroke, you must immediately perform the following steps:

  • Give your pet cold water. The cat or dog must do it yourself, in small sips.
  • Transfer your pet to a cool place and make a compress of cool water and ice. It is worth remembering that it is necessary to do this before wrapping the pet in a rag, if this is not done, then such help is fraught with a sharp hypothermia of the body.
  • To improve blood circulation, you can slightly rub the pet's legs.
  • When the dog or cat reaches a temperature of 38-39 degrees - cooling must be stopped. It is impossible to shoot down, because the body temperature in animals is higher than in humans.
  • Usually, improvement occurs within 10-20 minutes, if this did not happen, you must urgently visit a veterinarian.

 Use special covers to protect car seats

Dogs are often transported without cages. In order to keep the vehicle interior clean and intact, special covers can be used.

There are a large number of such сovers: waterproof dog car seat cover, dog hammock car seat cover, dog car seat cover for leather seats, car seat covers dog protectors. With such a variety, you can easily choose the product that meets exactly all your needs and will be at an affordable prices.


Other means of transport: Travelling by air and by train

Based on all of the above, we can conclude that the car is the most convenient means for traveling with a pet.

However, it is not always possible to travel by car. Often, people go on a trip with an animal by train or plane. Such trips involve more difficulties, as there is a need to draw up documents, provide medical certificates, fulfill the requirements and conditions of transport companies, and also interact with a large number of people.

Pets traveling by train experience less stress compared to an airplane, and sometimes even compared to a car. In this case, the train is the best solution for a long road.

Traveling with a pet on a plane can be costly and complicated. Before flying with a pet, you need to consider a lot of things. Everything is important: from documents for the pet to the size of the carry and the time for which you need to arrive at the airport.

By train

How to travel with pet in train? This kind of travel may seem challenging. Traveling by train with your pet is considered to be much easier than flying. 

Please note that some companies charge extra for transporting animals. Check rates in advance.

There are some useful tips while travelling on a train:

Some animals, like people, can get motion sickness, so it’s advisable to test out some short journeys before a long one.

You need to make sure that you have enough of water to avoid dehydration of  your pet .

You’ll need to find out how your pet behaves while being inside a cage for long period of time.

When travelling by train locally, documentation is rarely requested by train personnel.  But, some railway companies may require a certification that your pet is up-to-date with their vaccinations.

Also, most states require a recent Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. Each state has different rules, so make sure your documents meet the requirements.

In addition to carrier you definitely need to take a portable drinking bowl and a bowl for food, as well as water and feed. If the trip is long, you will need to make sure that your pet does not feel hungry and thirsty.

Most likely, traveling on a train will not involve stopping so you can walk your pet. A good decision would be to purchase and take with you a portable pet potty.

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By airplain

Probably everyone wants to ask a question to an experienced traveler who has pets: “How do you travel with a pet on a plane?”. This process may seem very complicated, nervous, and dangerous. The following paragraphs reveal all the main information about flights with animals, as well as recommendations to make such trip as comfortable as possible for both the owner and the pet.

If you are traveling with your pet by airplane, you can put your dog, cat, or another animal “under the plane.” Some types of aircraft have a pressurized cargo hold that maintains the same conditions as the cabin, where you'll be sitting.

The second option is to take your pet on the plane, under the seat in front of you. On some major airlines, this is your only option—these airlines don't allow pets in the cargo hold at all. As long as your pet can stand up and turn around in a plane-approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of you, your buddy can travel with you. In some cases, pet and carrier must weigh a combined 20 pounds. Some airlines have restrictions for first and business class seats on particular types of planes, so check with your airline first before booking your ticket.

Note that you will usually need to schedule your pet's travel with the airline 14 days in advance, as there are only a certain number of pet slots per plane. Most airlines charge between a hundred to two hundred dollars to carry your pet on the plane.

Depending on the airline, you can either bring your pet to the check-in counter to be taken away like a regular bag, or take them to a separate cargo drop-off in a location separate from the airport. It should be noted that traveling with pet in cabin will be less stressful for a pet and reduce the chance of losing a pet during transfers.

Whether your pet will travel with you in the cabin or as checked luggage in the cargo area (this will be primarily determined by size), your pet will need to be contained in a dog crate or cat carrier for the entire trip. Most pet supply stores carry both soft-sided (for in cabin travel) and hard-sided kennels approved for air travel. Additionally, the airlines also sell kennels at the counter. As always, check with the airline first to arrange for this purchase.

In selecting a kennel, you must first determine the proper size. Your pet’s size is determined by the following:

    Length: from nose to root of tail

    Width: length across shoulders

    Height: in standing position with head erect, from ground to highest point

It is important that your pet can stand, sit, turn around, and lie down comfortably throughout the flight.

If your pet travels in the cargo, you should try to make its flight make the flight as comfortable and safe as possible.

  • Choose direct flights. It will help you to avoid losing your pet during transfers.
  • When traveling during the summer or winter months, make sure that in the luggage compartment will be observed comfortable temperature mode.
  • Make sure that following information is stated on the pet’s collar: a permanent ID with your name, address and telephone number, and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number.
  • Attach a travel label to the carrier with the same information that’s stated on the pet’s collar.
  • Before the flight you need to clip the pet’s nails to protect them from getting hooked in the carrier's door, holes and other crevices.
  • Before the flight make sure that your pet became familiar with the travel carrier. It will help him/her to avoid stress.
  • Do not give your pet tranquilizers or other medicine unless they are advised by your veterinarian.
  • Remember not to feed your pet before the flight for several hours.
  • While travelling by plane take with you a photo of your pet. It will help to find your pet if it will be lost during the transit.
  • You need to open the carrier as soon as you got off the plane to make sure whether everything is okay with your pet.

To fly with your pet you need to prepare in advance. First of all, the animal needs to be vaccinated against rabies. It is very important. Without such a vaccination, your pet will simply not be allowed to board the aircraft. The rules require that the animal be vaccinated against rabies no earlier than one year, and no later than one month before departure. A record of this should be on the vaccination certificate. To obtain such a certificate, you need to go to the state institution of veterinary medicine at the place of residence.

Depending on the country, the list of requirements for transporting animals by air may vary. It is very important to check these requirements, as well as the requirements of the airline.

The price for transporting an animal on an airplane depends on its weight, as well as airline fares.

For both internal and external flights, you will need to prepare special documents for your pet.

For domestic travel:

  • Vet certificate, which indicates, in particular, all vaccinations of the animal, and the results of tests for worms (tests are handed in three days before the flight).

Traveling with pet internationally requires:

  • international vet certificate (issued in English or in the language of the country of destination);
  • permission to import / transit an animal;
  • certificate that the doggie (cat) does not represent tribal value;
  • Service dog special training certificate.

Each pet owner will wonder what obligations the airline has towards passengers with an animal. It is important to note that depending on the airline, these obligations may vary. Therefore, if you are going to travel by plane with your pet, you will need to familiarize yourself with this information on the airline’s website.

The main obligation is to let the guide dog aboard for free.

General tips for traveling with pets

In conclusion, we will provide you with general tips for traveling with pets. Whenever you go on a trip with your pet, cover the following basics.

  • Research embassy requirements if you are traveling abroad.
  • Visit your vet and get all the necessary consultations.
  • Get a Health Certificate and keep an electronic copy of your pet's health certificate.
  • Pack a bag with traveling pet products. And also do not forget to take the carrier, leash, dog car seat covers and so on (depending on the mean of transport you traveling by).
  • Don't carry endless amounts of pet food. Instead of worrying about finding a specific brand of pet food or carrying bags of food across borders, it’s better to be focused on the ingredients.
  • Have fresh water and treats on-hand. It’s necessary to have portable doggie water bottle and also to grab some pet treats to distract or calm down yor pet.
  • Bring a pet first aid kit. Don’t forget to take a tick remedy. It’s very useful when traveling.
  • Have a toy for distraction.
  • Find information about where to travel with pets in order to avoid unpleasant surprises if animals are restricted in that area. For outdoor activities, you definitely need to take a trick remedy(as mentioned earlier), a toy to entertain your pet and a leash in order to take control over your pet in certain situations.
  • About a week before departure, start accustoming the animal to the cage so that it can get used to the conditions of transportation.