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As the weather improves, more and more of us will be traveling with our pets. While having our pets along on trips and vacations can be very enjoyable, sometimes getting to the actual destination can be wrought with stress for both pets and owners.
Many dogs can be anxious and/or nauseous with car travel, and often these two can be interrelated. For dogs that get anxious in the car, sometimes starting with very short rides and progressively working up to longer and longer rides can help them adapt to the car. For dogs that get car sick, there are a number of medications that can help control motion-associated vomiting, talk to your vet about which may be best for your pet.
It’s also important to provide a safe and secure place for your pet while traveling in the car. Dogs should ideally be crated or even buckled in a seatbelt, and cats confined in a carrier. Frequent rest and “potty” breaks should be taken to let them stretch their legs and get a drink of water and a small snack.
Many owners will need to fly with their pets at one point or another. It is very important to check with your airline at least a month prior to travel, as many airlines require a health certificate from your pet’s veterinarian within 10 days of travel.
For international travel, it is even more important to start the process several months prior to anticipated travel. We recommend checking with the embassy of your destination country to get the most up-to-date requirements for travel to your destination country. If traveling to Japan, the United Kingdom, or Hawaii, the process typically needs to be started at least six months ahead of time, as these are Rabies-free areas that require extensive documentation of Rabies vaccination prior to travel to avoid an extensive quarantine on arrival.
When traveling overseas, specific health certificates are often required. Be sure to check with your veterinarian in advance to make sure they are USDA-certified for international health certificates, and have a plan to get those certificates cross-signed by the USDA veterinarian.
Microchips are recommended and, depending on the destination, may be required when traveling. This serves as a way for your pet to not only be identified in the airport here in D.C. but also internationally. And with domestic travel, the presence of a microchip can be the difference of finding your pet if they get lost hundreds of miles away from home or not.
Never leave your pet alone in the car, even with windows rolled down, as cars can heat up very quickly and cause devastating elevations in core body temperature. Even when flying, it is important to take the temperature into account as animals in crates, left on the tarmac, can reach unsafe temperatures if it is too hot outside. Your veterinarian can make recommendations on the temperature range that is acceptable for airline travel.
Sedating your pet for travel is not generally recommended, but there are certainly cases where the pet may be so anxious without sedation that they may injure themselves while crated. Please discuss this with your veterinarian weeks in advance of the anticipated trip so they can help you find behavioral and (possibly) pharmaceutical solutions to keep everyone safe and happy for the trip.
We wish you happy and healthy travels with your pets!