:Keeping Your Pet Safe While Traveling – Florida Animal Friend

Keeping Your Pet Safe While Traveling

The joys of bringing along a pet on family vacation will bring memories for years to come. Trips like these can bring you and your animal closer together. Unfortunately, there are times when bringing our four-legged friends is impractical or even impossible. When considering travel choose what is safest and most comfortable for your pet. If your travel plans won’t permit you much time to spend with your pet, they’ll probably be safer and happier at home. Cats are almost always better off in their own home. But if you have decided it’s best to bring your pet along, follow our tips for a safe and enjoyable travel experience for both you and your pet. 


Your Pet’s Primary Travel Kit

Bring food, a bowl, leash, a waster scoop, plastic bags, grooming supplies, medication and first-aid, and any travel documents. Be sure to pack plenty of bottled water, and avoid feeding right before travel or in a moving vehicle. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure. 


Pet ID Tag and Collar

Sadly, pets are sometimes lost during travel and in the case of a car accident. It’s not unheard of for a dog or cat escaping through a car window or open door. That’s where a properly fitted collar with ID tags is vital life safer. The ID tags should include your phone numbers and also a phone number of an emergency contact who is not traveling with you but will be able to reunite you with your pet. If your pet is microchipped check with its registry before you travel to ensure they have your current information and that of an emergency contact. Microchips scanning is routinely done on all lost pets entering shelters or taken to veterinarians. However, the average person who may find your pet will not have a scanner handy. That;s where the collar and ID play a vital role. 


Travel By Car

Dogs shouldnt roam freely in a car. There are two options to keep your dog safe in a moving car. One, is to provide your dog with a comfortable travel crate that can be secured in the car. The second, is to fit your dog with a restraining harness attached to the car’s rear seat. 


Cats belong in carriers

Most cats aren’t comfortable traveling in cars, so for their safety as well as yours, keep them in a carrier. Secure the carrier with a seatbelt and run the front of the carrier. 


Leave the front seat for humans

Keep your pet in the back seat of the car. If an airbag deploys while your pet is in the passenger seat (even in a crate), it might injure your pet. 


Before your travel, accustom your pet to its crate or carrier. Several weeks before traveling, place the crate or carrier in a place your pet frequents, leaving the door open. Place your pets favorite bedding, toys and treats inside the carrier or crate and leave the door open. Encourage your pet to voluntarily enter and exit the crate or carrier. 


Leave a Pet Alone in a Car 

Summer Travel – Heat is a serious hazard: when it’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside your car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour. On an 85-degree day, even with the windows slightly open, the temperature inside your car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes. 

Stop frequently to allow your pet to exercise and eliminate, but never permit your pet to leave the car without a collar, ID tag and leash. 


Pet Theft

Another hazard of leaving your pet in the car alone is the possibility of someone stealing your pet while you are away from the vehicle. 


Hotel Accommodations Permitting Pets

If you are planning to stay in hotels, it is critical to plan ahead. Many hotels, motels or rental properties allow animals to stay with guests for a fee. Some hotels will require the pet to be confined to a crate or carrier when left alone in your room. 

Boarding Services for Vacation Travelers


Some boarding facilities will provide temporary housing or day care for your pet near your travel location. For the animals that like to go to doggie daycare or boarding facilities, these are a great option to ensure your pet is safe and has fun while you’re away. 


Leaving your pet with a boarding service may be a temporary solution but cost can make this impractical if you’ll be traveling for an extended period. Research online boarding and day care facilities before you travel, and always inspect the facility before leaving your pet.


Boarding May Not be a Good Fit for Some Pets


A boarding kennel may not be the best option for an elderly pet or one with medical needs. Pets with special needs may need to be boarded at a veterinary clinic/hospital. Your dog or cat may just prefer to stay at home and be cared for by a responsible pet sitter. 


Following copy is from the Humane Society of the United States relating to Air, train and ship travel. 


By airplane

Before booking a flight for your pup, you’ll want to think through all your options.


Air travel can be risky for pets

We recommend that you weigh all the risks when deciding whether to transport your pet by airplane. Air travel can be particularly dangerous for animals with “pushed in” faces (the medical term is “brachycephalic”), such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats. Their short nasal passages leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.



If you plan to bring your pet on vacation, driving is usually a better option. If you can’t travel by car, your pet will probably be healthier and happier if you leave them behind under the care of a pet-sitter or boarding kennel. But there are times when that won’t be possible and you’ll have to determine whether the benefits of flying outweigh the risks.



Most airlines require a health certificate for animals, typically issued within 10 days of travel. This is also a good time to ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and that they aren’t battling any illnesses that could be exacerbated by heat or stress.



If you’re flying internationally, or even to Hawaii, your pets may need to be quarantined upon arrival. They may also require import forms. Familiarize yourself with the requirements, where they’ll be quarantined and for how long.


If you decide to fly with your pet, choose the cabin when possible

If transporting your pet by air is the only option, find out whether they can travel in the cabin with you. Most airlines will allow you to take a cat or small dog in the cabin for an additional fee. But you must call the airline well in advance; there are limits to the number of animals allowed in the cabin. If you are transporting your dog, make sure they meet the size requirements. If you get overwhelmed by all the regulations, there are companies that can help you navigate through the process of flying with a pet.


Ask these questions if your pet is flying in the cabin

When you contact the airline, be sure to get clear answers to these questions:


Will the airline allow you to take your cat or small dog in the cabin with you?

Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements?

Does the airline require a specific type of carrier? Most airlines will accept either hard-sided carriers or soft-sided carriers (which may be more comfortable for your pet), but only certain brands of soft-sided carriers are acceptable to certain airlines.

If you can’t take your pet in the cabin, does the airline have any restrictions on transporting your pet in the cargo hold?


TSA Screening

Take precautions when bringing your pet through airport security

Your pet’s carrier will have to pass through the security screening along with you. You have two options: Either be sure your pet is securely harnessed so you can safely contain them outside their carrier while it’s being x-rayed, or request a special secondary screening that won’t require you to take them out of their carrier.


Be aware of the dangers of flying your pet in a cargo hold

While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, you should be aware that some animals are killed, injured or lost on commercial flights each year. Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation and rough handling are often to blame.


Most U.S. airlines are required to report all companion animal incidents that occur in the cargo hold, and consumers should study the performance record of any airline before choosing to fly your pet in a cargo hold.


Follow these tips if your pet must fly in the cargo hold

If your pet must travel in the cargo hold, you can increase the chances of a safe flight for your pet by following these tips.


Use direct flights. You will avoid the mistakes that occur during airline transfers and possible delays in getting your pet off the plane.


Travel on the same flight as your pet when possible. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded into the cargo hold and unloaded. When you board the plane, notify the captain and at least one flight attendant that your pet is traveling in the cargo hold. If the captain knows that pets are on board, they may take special precautions.


Don’t ever ship brachycephalic animals such as Pekingese dogs, bulldogs or Persian cats in the cargo holds.

If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes. Early morning or late evening flights are better in the summer; afternoon flights are better in the winter.


Fit your pet with a collar that can’t get caught in carrier doors. Affix two pieces of identification on the collar: a permanent ID with your name and home address and telephone number, and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached. Make sure your pet’s microchip information is up to date.


Affix a travel label to the carrier on which you’ve written your name, permanent address and telephone number, final destination and where you or a contact person can be reached as soon as the flight arrives.


Make sure that your pet’s nails have been clipped to protect against them getting hooked in the carrier’s door, holes and other crevices.

Give your pet at least a month before your flight to become familiar with the travel carrier. This will minimize their stress during travel.

Do not give your pet tranquilizers unless they are prescribed by your veterinarian. Make sure your veterinarian understands that the prescription is for air travel.


Do not feed your pet for four to six hours before the trip. However, you can give them small amounts of water. If possible, put ice cubes in the water tray attached to the inside of your pet’s crate or kennel. (A full water bowl will only spill and cause discomfort.)

Try not to fly with your pet during busy travel times such as holidays and the summer. Your pet is more likely to undergo rough handling during hectic travel periods.


Carry a current photograph of your pet. If your pet is lost during the trip, a photograph will make it much easier for airline employees to search effectively.


When you arrive at your destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe place and examine your pet. If anything seems wrong, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Get the results of the examination in writing, including the date and time.


Speak up if you see something

Don’t hesitate to complain if you witness the mishandling of an animal—either yours or someone else’s—at any airport. Ask to speak with the manager of the section where the incident occurred and report mishandling both in person and in writing.


By ship

With the exception of assistance dogs, pets are welcome on only a few cruise lines—and usually on ocean crossings only. Some lines permit pets in private cabins, but most confine pets to kennels. Contact your cruise line in advance to find out its policies and which of its ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship’s kennel, make sure it is protected from the elements and check on your pet frequently.


By train

Amtrak now allows some pets on select trains and service animals are allowed on all lines. Some smaller U.S. railroad companies may permit animals on board. Many trains in European countries allow pets. Generally, it’s the passengers’ responsibility to feed and exercise their pets at station stops. Traveling by plane?


Unless your furry friend is small enough to ride under your seat, it’s best to avoid air travel with your pets. If you must bring your pet along on the flight, here are a few suggestions to keep your pet safe while flying the friendly skies.


Book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel during a layover.


Make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for a checkup. Prior to your trip, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of your departure. Tranquilizing your pet is generally not recommended as it could hamper his or her breathing, so use this time to check with your veterinarian for ways to relax your pet if you suspect he or she may become afraid, anxious or uncomfortable mid-flight. For travel outside of the continental United States, additional planning and health care requirements may be necessary. Contact the foreign office of the country you are traveling to for more information.


Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably, and lined with some type of bedding—shredded paper or towels—to absorb accidents. Prior to your trip, tape a small pouch of dried food outside the crate so airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he or she gets hungry during a layover. The night before you leave, freeze a small dish or tray of water for your pet. This way, it can’t spill during loading and will melt by the time he or she is thirsty. Make sure the crate door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency.

Make sure your pet’s crate has proper identification. Mark the crate with the words “Live Animal,” as well as with your name, cell phone and destination phone number, and a photo of your pet. Should your pet escape from the carrier, this could be a lifesaver. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.


Tell every airline employee you encounter—on the ground and in the air—that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. This way, they’ll be ready if any additional considerations or attention is needed. If the plane is delayed, or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible. In certain situations, removing the animal from the cargo hold and deplaning may be warranted.


A Dog is Happiest Than When They are With You

Safely Traveling with your pet is a rewarding experience that may seem daunting at first. With some practice, traveling with a four-legged friend becomes second nature. 


Florida Animal Friend is dedicated to ending pet overpopulation in the state of Florida. To help support Florida Animal Friend in its mission to provide grants to spay and neuter organizations, purchase a Florida Animal Friend specialty license plate for your vehicle today. Proceeds of $25 from each license plate, both new and renewed, are used exclusively to fund free and low-cost spay and neuter grant programs across Florida. 


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