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Traveling with Pets

Traveling with Pets

Planning the perfect vacation requires a lot of attention to detail, but for travelers who want to bring a pet with them, there are even more details to consider, especially if the trip involves an airplane ride. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers advice on its website,, for pet owners who want to travel with their canine or feline companions. The first step is to clear your plans with your veterinarian, who can help determine whether your dog or cat can travel safely. Not all pets are able to withstand the stress of a trip, either because of their age, medical condition, or temperament. Depending on where you’re traveling to, you may also need a copy of your pet’s medical records, and it’s a good idea to ask your vet for a few extra days’ worth of medication. 

The vet can also give you tips on acclimating your pet to travel and new surroundings. If you’ll be taking some long road trips, go on a test drive beforehand to make sure your pet doesn’t get carsick. Even if you’re flying, consider if your pet will need to be in a long car ride or even train ride once you get to your destination. Let your dog or cat try out the carrier beforehand to give them plenty of time to get used to it before you travel. A favorite toy or pillow placed inside may help. If you’ll be traveling with your dog or cat in an in-cabin crate, make sure it will fit underneath the seat in front of you, provide for air circulation and give the animal room to lay down, stand up and turn around comfortably.

Check with your airline, as well as any hotels where you’ll be staying, to make sure that they’re prepared to welcome your dog or cat. 

Each airline and hotel has different rules and fees for traveling pets. Small dogs and cats are generally allowed in the passenger cabin of airlines, but larger dogs must fly in the cargo hold. Some carriers have restrictions on breeds. For example, snub-nosed dogs that tend to have breathing problems generally aren’t allowed in baggage holds. Airlines also have quotas for the number of pets allowed in the cabin, so book your flight early. 

When you book your hotel, be aware that some have weight limits for dogs that are allowed to stay in rooms, as well as a curfew for when they must be settled down. Some hotels may prohibit animals from some public areas, so to work with a travel agent to help you find the hotel best suited for you and your pet. Also, to make outside walks easier, ask for a ground-floor room or one near the elevator.

When you’ve picked a flight and accommodations that make sense for you and your pet, draw up a checklist for all the paperwork and equipment you’ll need. Most airlines will require a certificate of veterinary inspection issued within 10 days of travel with proof that your dog or cat is healthy and has had all of its vaccinations. Before leaving home, make sure that your pet is properly identified, either with a microchip or collar with an ID tag. Bring some favorite food, toys, and blankets. Finally, research the location of veterinary hospitals, just in case. 

For help planning a trip with your pet, contact Travel Leaders COS at 800-273-0793, locally 719-597-0004, or send us an email at

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