Westbury Animal Hospital
713.723.3666 · 4917 S. Willow Dr. Houston, Texas 77035 

Louis Anderson, DVM

You’re planning a road trip during the Holidays to visit your parents. The route is mapped on Google, the swimsuit is packed for that dip in the Jacuzzi, the car is ready to go and inspected, and Spot has a nice comfy area set up in the back seat. Traveling with your furry companions has now become standard but many people bring them along not realizing they need special accommodations. Whether it is for a short trip across town or a 3 day flight across the world, proper planning can make these treks less stressful for both you and your pets.

 

Travel by Car

Short trips are the easiest. Dogs will usually jump into the car without much coaxing and enjoy the change in scenery. While in the car, it is important to have them in the backseat and/or contained in a stable kennel/crate. The rules of the road apply to everyone within the car and not having your fur baby jumping up-and-down on the seats or the driver’s lap will make the trip much safer. Never transport a pet in the back of an open truck or allow them to stick their heads outside the window. This can result in serious injury. The longer the trip, the more planning that is required. Rest stops should be planned. Pet-friendly hotels should be booked. It is a good idea to make sure your pet is microchipped in the event they get lost during travel.

 

Don't ever leave your pet alone in a car

A quick pit stop may feel like no time at all to you, but it is too long to leave your pet in a car by himself. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes.

Cats are a different story. A properly sized cat carrier is always recommended. Some tips to reduce stress are setting it out a couple days before the trip and putting treats, catnip, or cat pheromones in it to get them comfortable. Medications can be used as a last resort for those high-anxiety critters. Your veterinarian will consult with you about which medications can be safely used with your pets.

 

Travel by Airplane

If traveling by airplane, a health certificate issued by your veterinarian is almost always required. Health certificates cannot be issued more than 10 days in advance of travel and are valid anywhere from 10 to 30 days once written.

You should check with your airline for any specific regulations they require for pets. Some companies will allow you to place your pet under the seat in front of you within a crate. You will want to find out the dimension requirements of carriers. If your pet must fly as cargo keep in mind their health, age, and whether they can withstand changes in temperature. They will not be monitored, fed, or watered during the flight.

International travel is also becoming very common. Many people in the Houston area get reassigned to different parts of the globe and, with all the chaos of the move, thinking of your pet’s accommodations can get lost in the shuffle. All pet travel is regulated by the import country’s government and can be as simple as keeping their rabies vaccination up-to-date or as complicated as obtaining a travel visa with a required 30 day quarantine after entry. A few countries require specific disease testing up to 6 months in advance.

It is very important to contact your veterinarian or a pet travel company as soon as possible. These experts can advise you on the proper steps for completing the necessary requirements (microchips, vaccines, and/or disease testing) for sending a pet to a different country. In some cases, it is much easier for you and your family to enter a new country than your beloved Pekinese or Persian.

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