When traveling with furry friends, do you know the best way to do so safely? As it turns out, there are best practices for each mode of transportation when it comes to traveling safely with your pet. Let us break it down for you.
Traveling by Boat
Whether they love the water or are terrified of it, we advise that when traveling by boat (of any size), stay with your pet at all times.
If you’re traveling on a larger boat, such as a ferry or cruise ship, call ahead of time and make sure that your boat allows for pets. Service animals are almost universally allowed, but it’s still best to call and double check.
When possible, keep pets in carriers. If your pet is better on a leash, make sure that they are wearing a well-fitting floatation device. A flotation device can help animals, even if they know how to swim. If your pet jumps or falls into the water unexpectedly, you or a crew member can use the handle on the back of the flotation device to get your pet back on board the ship.
If you’re sitting outside, make sure your pet is wearing sunscreen. Your pet’s ears, nose, and paws are especially susceptible to sunburn. Additionally, if your pet has any thin patches or bald spots, you should apply sunscreen there too. You can consult with your vet about which types of sunscreens to use for your pet or search for pet-friendly sunscreens in the store.
Watch for signs of dehydration or seasickness in your pet, and always carry extra water or medication in case of emergency.
Leash or kennel your pet prior to getting on and off the ship and keep a close eye on them during these times. Because of all the commotion, pets can get excited or nervous during the boarding process so it’s important that you are being extra watchful.
Traveling by Car
Most pets are used to short car rides, whether that’s to the vet or to the dog park. However, not all pets enjoy riding in the car. If your pet is like that, you might want to avoid travel via car.
If a car is the only transportation method possible, you can get your pet accustomed to being driven around by taking them on short car trips, then them working up to longer drives.
You should prepare and pack a pet travel kit for your furry friend. Some things to include in your kit are
- Bottled Water
- Dog food (and snacks)
- First Aid Kit (including medication)
- Food and water dishes
- Grooming supplies
- Pet ID and travel documents
- Waste scoop or plastic Bags
Another thing to include in the kit would be your pet’s favorite toy, blanket, or pillow, which will give them a sense of familiarity while on the road.
Keep pets in the backseat. We hope this doesn’t happen, but if an emergency does occur and your airbag deploys, it can injure any pets in the passenger seat.
Pets should also be kept in carriers while your car is in motion. This is for your pet’s safety as well as the driver’s. Anchor the carrier to using a seatbelt or other restraint, either around the front of the carrier or in the back. Your carrier should not slide or shift during abrupt stops. The carrier should also be big enough so that your pet can comfortable move around (i.e. get up, turn around, sit, stand, and lie down).
You’ll need to schedule frequent stops while on the road, both for bathroom breaks and to feed your pet. You should avoid feeding or giving your pet water in a moving vehicle. When giving pets food and water, make sure it is from what you packed. Some animals may get an upset stomach if they drink water from an unfamiliar area.
You should never leave your animal alone in a parked car. On hot days, your car can reach 45 degrees above the outdoor temperature in just minutes and cause heatstroke in pets. On cold days, your car acts as a refrigerator and traps the cold air in, which can cause your pet to freeze to death.
Traveling by Plane
Air travel can be dangerous for brachycephalic animals, such as pugs, Persian cats, and bulldogs, due to their short nasal passages. They are especially susceptible to heat stroke and oxygen deprivation.
When traveling by airplane, you should check with your airline to see how they transport pets. Different airlines, even within the same airport, may have different rules.
Before arriving at the airport, make sure to ask the airlines these questions
- Do you have any health or immunization requirements/documentation?
- Do you have a limit on how many pets can fly with a passenger?
- Do you require a specific type of pet carrier?
- Do you have any restrictions on transporting pets in the cabin or cargo hold?
If you have a service pet, they will be allowed in the cabin with you, without an additional cost. The airline provider may inquire about your pet’s status, but they must accept credible assurance from the handler, as well as other identifying gear such as an ID card or a service animal vest. Service animals are not allowed to block aisles on the plane, cannot occupy a seat (so they must be able to sit on your lap or under your seat), and for the other passengers’ safety, may not be seated in an emergency row.
If your pet is not a service animal, some airlines will let you bring a cat or small dog, as long as it can sit on your lap or under the seat, into the cabin into the cabin for an additional fee. The fee will vary depending on which airline you fly with.
If your pet is too large to fly in the cabin, most airlines will let your pet fly in the cargo hold with an additional fee.
Despite the stigma of having animals transported in a plane’s cargo hold, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2018 Air Travel Consumer Report found zero losses, injuries, or deaths of “an animal during air transport provided by an air carrier.”
If you’re still feeling nervous, here are some facts that will hopefully reassure you:
- The cargo hold is both pressure and temperature controlled
- “Pet safe” airlines have trained employees that follow a last on, first off policy for pets
- Pet check-in occurs at the airline’s cargo facility and pets are individually tracked during each part of their journey
- Pets are not attached to their pet owner’s ticket and do not need to travel on the same flight as their owner
While it is not required to travel with your pet, we definitely recommend doing so.
Before the flight, make sure your pet is comfortable being in a kennel for a period of time. It should be large enough for them to be able to sit, stand, move around, and lie down in. You should also label the crate “Live Animal” and include your name, contact information, destination, and a picture of your pet. Make sure that your kennel door closes, but do not lock it, so that it can be opened easily in case of emergency.
When possible, always book direct flights when flying with pets. If you do have a layover, on the night before the trip you should secure a small amount of dried food and a water bottle outside of the kennel so that airline personnel can feed and give water to your pet if they get hungry or thirsty during the layover.
Make sure that airline personnel know that you’re traveling with a pet, especially if your pet is in the cargo hold. By doing this, workers should be ready if any issues arise, such as weather or mechanical delays. If you have concerns, insist that someone check on your pet to make sure they are doing alright. In some situation, it may be better to remove your pet from the cargo hold.
Traveling by Train
Like planes and boats, service animals are allowed on trains. Some companies may request identification, but it is generally not as extensive as the identification required by airlines.
Certain trains also allow pets on board, so check if your train is one of them before you book your trip. Some trains will charge an extra fee while others may not.
Make sure that you bring health and vaccination records if your train company requires them.
You will need to abide by the train regulations, which may include keeping your pet in their kennel, on a leash, or be hand-carried.
Bring extra food and water for your journey, an extra toy or blanket for comfort, and take advantage of the train stops to stretch your pet’s legs and give them a chance to do their business.
We hope this blog has given you some tips on how to travel safely with your pet. If you have any other questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out.