Traveling With Pets? What to Remember Before You Leave

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

To prepare for a lengthy car ride, take your pet on shorter drives ahead of time. Make a list of emergency clinics along your route, as well as at your destination, in case your pet gets sick or injured. Feed him at least two hours before you depart and provide small amounts of water as needed throughout the trip. Never allow your pet to stick his head out the window, because he could be injured by debris. Take breaks every couple of hours to exercise your pet and let him eliminate. Do not leave your pet unattended in the car and make sure he is on a leash when out of his carrier.


Traveling by car is usually preferable to air travel, but there are ways to stay on top of your pet’s plane trip. Federal and state regulations, as well as those imposed by each airline, are in place to keep your pet as safe as possible. Try to book direct flights during less-busy hours, have your pet fly in the cabin with you if possible and avoid traveling during the hottest and coldest parts of the day. If your pet must travel in the cargo hold, have the airline verify that the area is temperature controlled.

The day before your scheduled flight, check with your airline to make sure nothing has changed and that your pet can still be accommodated. Feed your pet six hours before your flight takes off. Find out in advance where in the airport you and your pet need to report and arrive two to four hours before scheduled departure. You will need to take your pet through airport security, including the metal detector, and your pet’s carrier may be X-rayed. Each airline has its own regulations, which may be updated periodically.


Alert the plane’s crew that you have a pet on board and, as soon as your plane lands, pick up your pet and inspect him. If anything looks suspicious, see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Keep in mind that pet insurance is portable and can be used wherever you travel.

Beyond car and air travel, options for transporting your pet may be limited. Most modes of public transportation do not welcome pets, with the exception of service dogs. If you are traveling by boat, check with the cruise line to find out whether kennels are available.


By keeping your pet healthy on the road (and ­always), choosing your destinations wisely and planning ahead, you can find plenty of places and activities to enjoy with your pet. Bon voyage!

Movin’ On Up

Many tips for safe travel also apply to moving, but a smooth move requires some additional preparation:

  • Pack in stages to lessen the stress on your pet.
  • Obtain new ID tags with your updated address before the move.
  • Confine your pet to a room from which he cannot escape on moving day.
  • Ask your veterinarian to recommend a veterinarian in your new neighborhood.
  • Pet-proof your new destination as soon as you arrive and make sure your pet has all the comforts of your former home.

Travel Resources


More from Vetstreet:

Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!