How to travel safely with your pet
Safe Travel Tips
Whether the voyage is by plane or in an
automobile, traveling can be stressful for both
owners and their pets. But with some preparation,
pet owners can ensure a safe and comfortable trip.
Always keep your companion animal's welfare in
mind with these tips:
ASPCA wants pet owners to think twice about flying
their pets on commercial airlines, especially if
they plan on checking them in as cargo. The Air
Transport Association has reported in the past
that approximately 5,000, or 1% of the companion
animals that are flown on commercial planes have
been injured, lost or killed during transport.
Although Congress has passed a law that requires
the airlines to establish a separate reporting
system if an animal is lost, injured or killed and
will investigate the circumstances surrounding the
incident, the conditions in which animals are
shipped have not changed.
Animals continue to be shipped in cargo holds
that are not temperature controlled. "Unless your
animal is small enough to fit under your seat and
you can bring them in the cabin, the ASPCA
recommends pet owners to not fly their animal,"
says Lisa Weisberg, ASPCA Senior Vice President of
Government Affairs and Public Policy. If pet
owners have already committed to transporting
their pets on commercial airlines this holiday
season, the ASPCA is offering the following safety
Make an appointment with your pet's veterinarian
for a checkup and make sure all vaccinations are
up-to-date. Obtain a health certificate from your
veterinarian within 10 days of departure.
Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and
an identification tag. Breakaway collars are
best for cats. The collar should also include
destination information in case your pet
Book a direct flight whenever possible. This
will decrease the likelihood of your pet being
left on the tarmac during extreme weather
conditions or mishandling by baggage personnel.
Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that
is large enough for your pet to stand, sit and
change position in comfortably. Shipping crates
can be purchased from many pet supply stores and
Write the words "Live Animal" in letters at
least one inch tall on the top of the crate and
on at least one side. Use arrows to prominently
show the upright position of the crate.
On the top of the crate, write the name,
address and telephone number of your pet's
destination point, whether you are traveling
with them or someone else is picking up the
Affix a photograph of your pet to the top of
the crate for identification purposes if the
animal should escape from the carrier. Also
carry a photograph of your pet.
Line the crate bottom with some type of
bedding - shredded paper or towels - to absorb
Freeze water provided for your pet so that
it will not spill during loading, and will melt
by the time the animal is thirsty. Tape a small
pouch (preferably made of cloth) of dried food
outside the crate. This enables airline
personnel to feed your pet in case it gets
hungry on long-distance flights or a layover.
Do not lock the door of the crate. Make sure
it is securely closed, but not locked, so that
airline personnel can open it in case of an
Tranquilizing your pet is not generally
recommended as it could hamper their breathing.
Check with your veterinarian first.
Tell every airline employee you encounter, on
the ground and in the air, that you are traveling
with a pet in the cargo hold so that any
additional considerations or attention can be
provided. If the plane is delayed, or you have
any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist
that airline personnel check the animal when
feasible. In certain situations removing the
animal from the cargo hold and deplaneing may be
you are planning a road trip, driving with a pet
usually involves more than putting the animal in a
car and driving off, especially if you will be
driving long distances or will be away for a long
time. The ASPCA offers the following tips to help
you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip.
Acclimate your pet for a long trip by taking
him or her on a series of short drives first,
gradually lengthening time spent in the car.
Start your pet on a travel-feeding schedule
with a light meal two to three hours prior to
departure. Never feed your pet in a moving
In addition to travel papers, food, bowls,
leashes, a waste scoop, plastic bags, grooming
supplies, medication and a pet first aid kit,
pack a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a
sense of familiarity.
Make sure your dog has a flat (never a
choke) collar with an ID tag imprinted with home
address, as well as a temporary travel tag with
your cell phone and a destination phone number
(and any other relevant contact information).
Harness, rather than leash, your dog inside
the car. For smaller animals, a well-ventilated
crate is recommended.
Don't allow pets to ride with their heads
outside the window as it subjects them to flying
objects, inner ear damage and lung infections.
If you travel frequently with your pet,
consider cargo-area pet barriers, waterproof
seat covers or rubberized floor liners sold by
auto product retailers.
Article courtesy: The American
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Printed with permission.
Complete list of