A change in seasons means new possibilities for traveling and vacationing with your family. Whether your travels are by air or by car, you want to keep safety as your top priority. This is especially important if you are traveling with your pets! The team at Volunteer Veterinary Hospital has put together the essential safety tips for traveling with your pets:
Car Pet Travel Safety Tips
Follow these tips for a smooth and safe road trip with your furry companion:
Never leave your pet in the car unattended. This is rule number one, whether you are traveling several miles by car, or just a short distance. Temperatures inside a vehicle, even with the windows cracked, can reach dangerous levels within just a few minutes. Even if the weather is cool outside, the inside of a car can heat up extremely fast. On a seventy-degree day, the inside of a parked car can reach 100 degrees in as little as twenty minutes. Not only is leaving your pet alone in the car dangerous, but it is also cruel.
Heat stroke can affect both dogs and cats, and it can happen quickly. Be sure to plan ahead on your road trips with your pets, so they are not left alone in a parked car.
Bring travel essentials. Make sure you pack plenty of water, food, and any medications your pet may need. Also bring their collar, harness, and leash so they can be escorted in and out of the car safely. Make sure to pack some of your pet’s food (even for a day trip), in case an emergency arises and you are delayed returning home. Make sure to include a bowl so your pet is able to eat or drink during rest stops.
Buckle up. It’s incredibly important to keep your pet safely secured in your car, just as it’s important for humans to buckle up. Look for safety harnesses with loops for a seatbelt to be secured through, to help protect your pet in the event of an accident. The tethers should be short, and secured on your dog’s back (not the neck). If you’re carrying your cat, you should make sure they are comfortable in their carrier before strapping them into the seat.
Another tip is to avoid putting your pet in the front seat, if possible. If they must be in the front, make sure they are secured by a seat belt (whether in a harness or carrier/crate). Overall, we recommend your pet travels in the backseat of your car. If they are seated in the front seat, they are at risk of being injured by the airbag if an accident occurs.
Pet Air Travel Safety
There are several different rules and regulations that apply to traveling by air with your pet. They all differ from airline to airline, and also change depending on if your pet is traveling in the passenger area or the pet cargo area of the plane. Be sure to check with your airline before booking a flight to make sure you understand the safety regulations in place, and to determine which route is best for your pet.
Pet Health Certificate. Most airlines require your pet have a Pet Health Certificate that has been issued within the last month before your travel date. You can get these from your veterinarian, who will conduct a wellness exam to make sure your pet is healthy and fit for air travel. Even in the rare case your airline does not require a pet health certificate, it’s still a good idea to get clearance from your veterinarian before taking your pet on a plane.
Watch out for breed restrictions. Some pets are not allowed in different parts of the airplane, and some airlines will not transport particular breeds at different times of the year. In particular, bracapcheadflka or “snub-nose” breeds are excluded or have stricter travel regulations, since their nasal passages are already constricted and air travel could hamper their ability to breathe even more.
Sedate Your Pets? Maybe think twice. While it may seem like a smart move to sedate your pet before taking them on a plane, this might not be the best idea. Sedation slows your pet’s breathing, and any restrictions on their breathing while in the air will be even more dangerous. Pets are not allowed to be sedated if they are traveling in the cargo area of the plane, because they cannot be monitored during the flight to make sure they are breathing okay. Always check first with your veterinarians first before giving your pet any sedatives, even if they are traveling in the passenger area with you.
Crate size matters. If your pet is traveling in the temperature-controlled, pressurized pet cargo area of the plane, they will be required to travel in an airline-approved crate. You’ll want to make sure your pet fits comfortably. They should be able to stand up and turn around easily in their crate. Also, no toys, blankets, or food is allowed in the crate with your pet, as this may be a choking hazard. Check with your airline first to make sure the crate meets the requirements, or your pet may be denied travel.
Traveling with your pets can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Contact us at Volunteer Veterinary Hospital with any pet travel safety tips. We’re here to make sure your pet stays safe and healthy, during travel and throughout their life.