Traveling with your Pet

Traveling can be a rewarding experience for both you and your pet. Most pets will adapt easily to traveling by car. Your pet should be taken on short trips first so they know the routine and how to behave. The safest way to travel is with your dog or cat in a kennel. Pets that are kennel trained as babies find this very secure and enjoy getting to ride along in a familiar kennel. If you are visiting family, the kennel is also a secure place for pets when you must leave them in an unfamiliar home. When you are with them, leave the kennel door open so your pet knows where it is okay to take a nap or rest. Not everyone appreciates a pet on the bed or couch, so a little planning will ensure you won't offend your host.

If your pet is calm in the car, traveling outside the kennel can be enjoyable for them. Be sure they have a collar and use caution when the door or window is open. The collar gives you instant control in an emergency. It is wise to give them a bed or rug on the seat to sleep on, and once you're at your destination, take the bed with you so they have a familiar place to sleep.

Anxious pets can be given calming herbs such as Doc Roy’s® DOCILE DOG, a week before travel to take the edge off of the stress. These products do not make pets tired just relaxed so they do not sweat the little things like bumps or horns! Keeping them on Docile Dog while at a strange home assures quiet handling in new surroundings.

Feeding is best when it's done in the evening, with small amount fed in the morning before travel. Dry food is best because it doesn't need to be refrigerated and there's no chance of spoiling. Most rest areas have water access for your pet, but you should use your own bowl to prevent exposure to disease from other pets that drank from the water. Water is easy with collapsible bowls, which take up no storage space in the car.

If you are camping with your pet, call ahead to make sure pets are accepted where you plan to stay. There are many pet friendly hotels and campgrounds, so plan your trip accordingly. Airlines have different rules and regulations, but the one common one is first come, first serve. Most have a limited number of carry-on pets and usually only allow one. If your pet must travel in the cargo area, arrive early and place your pet in the carrier yourself - it will be less stressful if you place them in a carrier that has a familiar home scent. Airline personnel have pets of their own and will do their best to accommodate your pet. They should sleep the trip and arrive safely.

If your pet is not microchipped, get them chipped and registered for permanent identification. If something happens and they get away from you, the chip will trace them back to you and you can retrieve them quickly. Local shelters all have microchip scanners that will read their chip and find the information to get them home.

If you take your pet to Canada, you will need a universal microchip (134 kHz), as well as a health certificate from your veterinarian. Some campgrounds ask for health certificates to make sure your pet will not give diseases to other pets. It is a good way to ensure disease prevention by the campground.

Some pets hate to travel and would prefer to be left at home! If this is your pet, you should consider getting family or a friend to care for your pet while you are gone. There are many good boarding facilities that can accommodate the family pet, and you will not have to bother with pet travel arrangements.

Most pets will tolerate traveling, but with a little planning, you can ensure your pets are safe and comfortable - and your traveling memories will be positive!

- Dr. B

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

Return to Articles


We take care of people who take care of pets