How to Travel with your Pet

If you have a pet, the thought of going on a trip probably...

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If you have a pet, the thought of going on a trip probably fills you with guilt and hesitation. The idea of abandoning your dog or cat, even for just a few days, seems unfathomable. It probably feels easier to just stay home, but have you ever considered bringing your four-legged companion with you?

It is common to think that this would require more planning than going solo, yet travelling with pets is becoming more and more frequent  around the world.

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Here’s everything you need to know:

Visit your veterinarian

First and foremost, it is important to consult your veterinarian before going on an international trip, as some countries will require you to provide health certificates upon arrival. Your pet will need to receive certain health checks and blood tests to assess its state. You must also ensure that all necessary vaccines have been administered (such as the rabies vaccine). Once the assessment is complete, you can ask your veterinarian to complete and sign the Canadian International Health Certificate for cats and dogs.

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Hit the Road with your Furry Friend

If you plan to hit the road with your trusted companion, you probably have one image in mind: that of your beloved furball in the rearview mirror, ears flapping in the breeze of the open window in the backseat.

Although this may seem like the ideal road trip vacation scenario, for the sake of your pet’s health and well-being, avoid recreating this on the highway. Be mindful of the fact that your pet may be prone to motion sickness while travelling. It’s recommended that you test your pet’s ease of travel before the trip in order to gradually ease them into long trips in the car. If you plan on crossing the border, don’t forget to bring your up-to-date documentation and certificates with you.

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Choosing the Right Carrier for your Pet

Whether travelling by land or by air, the comfort and safety of your pet is paramount during your journey. It is recommended that you buy a bag or transport cage a few weeks before your departure, so that your fluffy friend can gradually get used to it.

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If you are travelling by air, there are a few criteria that have been established by the Animal Air Transport Association that you need to consider. Here are a few guidelines to help point you in the right direction for your purchase:

○ Ensure that the carrier has sufficient ventilation to allow your pet to easily breathe without being able to poke their head or limbs out of any of the holes.

○ The carrier should be made of resistant materials free of metal mesh or fiberboard.

○ Your pet should have enough space to stand, stretch out and turn around in the carrier.

It is also recommended that you write “Live animal” on the side of the carrier, as well as your name, your pet’s name,  the city of arrival, your email address and any other important contact information.  You should also keep a recent photo of your pet with you at all times (in your smartphone, for example) in the event that you and your furry companion get separated during the journey.

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Taking Flight with your Pet

As much as possible, try to select flights that have few or no layovers in order to facilitate a smooth journey. It’s also important to note that each airline has its own policy on travelling with pets. Some airlines may even prohibit pets on board, so it’s important to do a thorough check before you book your flight.

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The following airlines are amongst those that permit air travel with pets:

● Air Canada

● Air France

● American Airlines

● Delta

● Jet Blue

● SouthWest

● United

● Virgin America

Most of the time, airlines that allow pets on board offer three options: travel in the cabin, if the weight and size of your pet allows for it, travel in the baggage compartment or in cargo. Certain companies will also require that your pet be at least 10 weeks of age at the time of travel. Remember to account for the surcharge when budgeting for your trip as most airlines will charge anywhere between tens to hundreds of dollars to allow your pet to accompany you on the flight. Most of the time, however, assistance dogs are permitted to travel for free in the cabin.

Unless your veterinarian has issued a prescription, it’s best to avoid using tranquillizers on your pet. Also, make sure to open the carrier bag and verify the well-being of your pet as soon as you land. If needed, jot down any symptoms that seem out of the norm for your pet (make sure to include date and time of the symptom) and make  your way to the nearest veterinary clinic.

By taking all of these precautions into account, you are ensuring the best possible security for your pet during air travel. When it comes to travelling with your pet, it’s worth following procedures to a T in order to best let go and take advantage of your trip, whether in the mountains or at the beach.

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Reserve Lodging that Accepts Animals

Many accommodations (hotels, campgrounds, or short term rentals) accept pets. Simply make sure to let them know that you will be arriving with your furry loved one in advance in order to avoid any miscommunication or surprises. Certain places even offer pet-friendly services such as rooms that have direct access to the outdoors. These seemingly minor details can make a huge difference for your trip. Also, don’t forget to pack enough food and necessities for the well-being of your four-legged companion during the trip!

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Get Travel Insurance

Whether travelling alone or with your beloved pet, make sure to leave with peace of mind by getting travel insurance before you leave. Get in touch with your insurance representative to give them a detailed plan of your itinerary.

Now that you have everything it takes to travel with your furry little friend, you can jump right into your next adventure! Don’t forget to take a few photos to make the moments last!

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