How to go on vacation with a Pet
How to go on vacation with a Pet. We all love taking our pets on vacation with us. Pets enjoy vacations just as much as wee do. Here Are some tips to go on vacation with your pet.
Pet Travel carriers for vacation
Travel carriers are useful when your pet is traveling by car; they are mandatory when your pet is traveling by air. Your pet’s carrier should be durable and smooth-edged with opaque sides, a grille door, and several ventilation holes on each of the four sides.
Choose a carrier with a secure door and door latch. If you are traveling by air, your carrier should have food and water dishes. Pet carriers may be purchased from pet-supply stores or bought directly from domestic airlines.
Select a carrier that has enough room to permit your animal to sit and lie down but is not large enough to allow your pet to be tossed about during travel. You can make the carrier more comfortable by lining the interior with shredded newspaper or a towel.
It is wise to acclimate your pet to the carrier in the months or weeks preceding your trip. Permit your pet to explore the carrier. Place your pet’s food dish inside the carrier and confine him or her to the carrier for brief periods.
To introduce your pet to car travel in the carrier, confine him or her in the carrier and take short drives around the neighborhood. If properly introduced to car travel, most dogs and cats will quickly adjust to and even enjoy car trips.
Careful Preparation is the Key
When packing, don’t forget your pet’s food, food and water dishes, bedding, litter and litter box, leash, collar and tags, grooming supplies, and a first-aid kit and any necessary medications. Always have a container of drinking water with you.
Your pet should wear a sturdy collar with ID tags throughout the trip. The tags should have both your permanent address and telephone number and an address and telephone number where you or a contact can be reached during your travels.
Traveling can be upsetting to your pet’s stomach. Take along ice cubes, which are easier on your pet than large amounts of water. You should keep feeding to a minimum during travel.
(Provide a light meal for your pet two to three hours before you leave, if you are traveling by car, or four to six hours before departure if traveling by air.) Allow small amounts of water periodically in the hours before the trip.
Carry a current photograph of your pet with you. If your pet is lost during a trip, a photograph will make it easier for others (airline employees, the police, shelter workers, and others) to help you find your pet.
How to Travel by Air with Pets
What are the rules for flying with pets?
The Humane Society of the United States recommends that you do not transport your pet by air unless absolutely necessary. According to the Air Transport Association, more than 5,000 animals are killed, injured, or lost on commercial flights each year. Our beloved pets face risks including excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, scarcity of oxygen, and rough handling.
The airline industry treats live animals as mere baggage, transporting them in cargo holds not designed for life support. In the past, airlines have neither responded appropriately to reports of animal injuries, nor provided accurate information to the flying public.
In response to the problems associated with pet air travel, Congress passed the Safe Air Travel for Animals Act in April 2000. The HSUS lobbied extensively for this law. Although the U.S. Department of Transportation has yet to adopt regulations to implement the law, many airlines responded to the law’s passage by announcing restrictions on accepting pets as cargo.
Before you make plans to travel with your pet by air, follow these suggestions:
- If you plan to bring your pet on vacation, consider driving instead of flying. (Neither Amtrak nor Greyhound allows pets.) If this isn’t possible, consider leaving your pet behind under the care of a pet sitter or boarding kennel.
- If you are relocating across the country, consider using a company whose primary business is to transport animals.
- If you must travel with your pet on a major airline, read our tips for safe pet air travel.
And remember: While finding alternative transportation or boarding for your animal might be inconvenient, the inconvenience is minor when weighed against the risk of losing your companion forever. Above all, when making travel decisions, please consider what is best for your pet.
Tips for Traveling by Car with your pets
Dogs who enjoy car travel need not be confined to a carrier if your vehicle has a restraining harness (available at pet-supply stores and from Saab Cars) or if a passenger can restrain the animal. Because most cats are not as comfortable traveling in cars, for their own safety as well as yours, it is best to keep them in a carrier.
Dogs and cats should always be kept safely inside the car. Pets who are allowed to stick their heads out the window can be injured by particles of debris or become ill from having cold air forced into their lungs. Never transport a pet in the back of an open pickup truck.
Stop frequently to allow your pet to exercise and eliminate. Never permit your pet to leave the car without a collar, ID tag, and leash.
Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. On warm days, the temperature in your car can rise to 120° in a matter of minutes, even with the windows opened slightly. Furthermore, an animal left alone in a car is an invitation to pet thieves.
Traveling by Ship or Train with pets
Traveling by Ship
With the exception of assistance dogs, only a few cruise lines accept pets—and usually on ocean crossings only. Some lines permit pets in private cabins, but mostly they are confined to kennels. Contact cruise lines in advance to find out their policies and which of their ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship’s kennel, make sure it is protected from the elements.
Traveling by Train
Amtrak currently does not accept pets unless they are assistance dogs. (There may be smaller U.S. railroad companies that permit animals on board.) Many trains in European countries allow pets. Generally, it is the passengers’ responsibility to feed and exercise their pets at station stops.
To ensure a smooth trip for you and your pet, follow the general guidelines suggested for other modes of transportation when planning to travel by ship or train
What You Need Before You Travel with pets
The Pre-Trip Veterinary Examination
Before any trip, have your veterinarian examine your pet to ensure that he or she is in good health. A veterinary examination is a requisite for obtaining the legal documents required for many forms of travel.
In addition to the examination, your veterinarian may vaccinate your pet against rabies, distemper, infectious hepatitis, leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease, and test for heartworm and prescribe appropriate medication.
After examining your pet, your veterinarian may prescribe a sedative or tranquilizer and recommend a trial run so you can observe the effects of the prescribed dosage. Do not give your pet any drug not prescribed or given to you by your veterinarian.
Legal Requirements for traveling with pets
When traveling with your pet, it is always advisable to keep a health certificate (a document from your veterinarian certifying that your pet is in good health) and medical records close at hand. If you and your pet will be traveling across state lines, you must obtain from your veterinarian a recent health certificate and a certificate of rabies vaccination.
Although pets may travel freely throughout the United States as long as they have proper documentation, Hawaii requires a 30- or 120-day quarantine for all dogs and cats. Hawaii’s quarantine regulations vary by species, so check prior to travel.
If you and your pet are traveling from the United States to Canada, you must carry a certificate issued by a veterinarian that clearly identifies the animal and certifies that the dog or cat has been vaccinated against rabies during the preceding 36-month period. Different Canadian provinces may have different requirements. Be sure to contact the government of the province you plan to visit.
If you and your pet are traveling to Mexico, you must carry a health certificate prepared by your veterinarian within two weeks of the day you cross the border.
The certificate must include a description of your pet, the lot number of the rabies vaccine used, indication of distemper vaccination, and a veterinarian’s statement that the animal is free from infectious or contagious disease. This certificate must be stamped by an office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The fee for the stamp is $16.50.
If you are transporting birds out of the United States, record the legband or tattoo number of each bird on the USDA certificate and get required permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Choosing a Pet Sitter when you travel
Pet sitters do much more than provide your pet with food and water while you’re away from home. A good pet sitter also spends quality time with your pet, gives him exercise, and knows how to tell if your pet needs veterinary attention. What’s more, pet sitters typically offer additional services, such as bringing in mail and newspapers, watering plants, turning lights on and off, and providing homes with a lived-in look to deter crime.
But just because someone calls herself a pet sitter doesn’t mean she’s qualified to do the job. This information will help you find the best pet sitter for you and your pet.
Why hire a pet sitter?
When you must be away from home—say for travel or an emergency—and don’t want to leave your pet in a boarding kennel, who takes care of your pet? If you’re like many pet owners, you ask a friend or neighbor to stop in and pour some kibble and water in your pet’s bowls.
But is this what’s best for your pet? There’s a good chance that your friends and neighbors lack proper pet-care experience and have even forgotten to show up. They may also resent frequent requests to look after your pet while you’re gone. So what is the solution? Consider hiring a “pet sitter”—a professional, qualified individual paid to care for your pet.
A pet sitter offers both you and your pet many benefits.
Your pet gets:
- the environment he knows best.
- his same diet and routine.
- relief from traveling to and staying in an unfamiliar place with other animals (such as a boarding kennel).
- attention while you’re away.
- happier friends and neighbors, who aren’t burdened with caring for your pet.
- the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pet is being cared for by a professional.
- someone to bring in your newspaper and mail so potential burglars don’t know you’re away.
- someone who will come to your home so you don’t have to drive your pet to a boarding kennel.
- other services provided by most pet sitters, such as plant watering and pet grooming.
Where do I find a pet sitter?
Start with a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, humane society, or dog trainer. Check the Yellow Pages under “Pet Sitting Services.” You can also contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (800-296-PETS) or Pet Sitters International (336-983-9222) for a referral. Both organizations offer pet-sitter accreditation to those who demonstrate professional experience, complete pet-care-related home study courses, attend professional conferences, and abide by a code of ethics set by the organizations. What should I look for?
It’s important to learn all you can about prospective pet sitters’ qualifications and services. Before selecting a pet sitter, interview the candidates over the phone or at your home. Find out the following:
- Can the pet sitter provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)?
- What training has the pet sitter received?
- Will the pet sitter record notes about your pet, such as his likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines?
- Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
- What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
- Will the pet sitter provide related services such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training, and play time?
- Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
- If the pet sitter provides live-in services, what are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
- How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
- Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?
Even if you like what you hear from the pet sitter and from her references, it’s important to have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring her for a pet-sitting job. Watch how she interacts with your pet—does your pet seem comfortable with the person? If this visit goes well, start by hiring the pet sitter to care for your pet during a short trip, such as a weekend excursion. That way, you can work out any problems before leaving your beloved pet in the pet sitter’s care for longer periods.
How can I help the pet sitter and my pet?
Of course, even the most trustworthy, experienced pet sitter will have trouble if you haven’t also kept your end of the bargain. Here are your responsibilities:
- Make reservations with your pet sitter early, especially during holidays.
- Ensure your pet is well socialized and allows strangers to handle him.
- Affix current identification tags to your pet’s collar.
- Maintain current vaccinations for your pet.
- Leave clear instructions detailing specific pet-care responsibilities and emergency contact information, including how to reach you and your veterinarian.
- Leave pet food and supplies in one place.
- Buy extra pet supplies in case you’re away longer than planned.
- Leave a key with a trustworthy neighbor as a backup, and give him and your pet sitter each other’s phone numbers. Be sure those extra keys work before giving them out.
- Show the pet sitter your home’s important safety features such as the circuit breaker and security system.
Finally, have a safe and fun trip. And remember to bring your pet sitter’s phone number in case your plans change—or you just want to find out how Fluffy and Fido are doing.