Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Traveling Safely With Your Pets
Taking your pet on vacation with you makes it more fun. Although there are several different ways to get from home to your destination, each requires preparation when you have a dog or cat along. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccines and medications, and talk to your veterinarian about travelling with your pet.
Protect your pet and yourself when you drive by restraining him in a pet harness made for an automobile — and take a few trial runs to ensure he is a good passenger who can go the distance.
Before you leave on your trip, prepare a zippered pet suitcase containing a portable water dish, bottled water, an ample amount of regular chow, and a favorite toy. Along the way, allow your dog time for bathroom breaks and make a litter pan available for your cat.
Want to ride the rails with Rover? Thanks to a change in rules, cats and dogs weighing 20 pounds or less can travel for $25 on certain Amtrak routes on trips up to seven hours. A reservation is required and pet parents must provide a carrier and keep the pet contained within it for the duration.
Unfortunately, only service animals are permitted on the majority of coaches
Depending upon the airline’s regulations and your pet’s breed and size, he may be permitted to travel as your carry-on, checked with baggage or transported with the airline’s cargo. This goes for flights 12 hours or less so aim for direct flights.
Have a small dog or cat? Then traveling with you in a carrier to your seat is optimal. You must pay a fee and notify the airline in advance as they limit the number of animals permitted onboard. If your pet is larger and too big for the cabin, he can go with the checked luggage. Know that some airlines will not accept snub-nosed dogs or cats and may refuse to board pets in hot weather. If your pet is cleared to travel in the plane's cargo area, label the crate with the words "LIVE ANIMAL" and include your contact information both inside and outside.
If your travels lead you to Europe and you aren’t pressed for time, you can sail transatlantic from New York City to Southampton, England on the Queen Mary 2 with your pet. Recently refurbished, the luxury liner includes 24 spacious kennels for dogs and cats that are watched over by a full-time Kennel Master who feeds and walks the animals. Pet parents can spend time with furbabies in a dedicated lounge and pet play area. For more information, contact Cunard at 800-728-6273. Note: A pet passport and 15-digit microchip (the kind used by HomeAgain) are required for boarding.
Before You Go Anywhere
Double-check that your pet is microchipped and current on required vaccines. You may be required to present veterinarian-supplied documentation of that. Your pet also should wear a collar with an ID and license.
Before you leave, give your pet a good workout to tire him out. Pack ample snacks and treats (but don’t offer a full meal right before you go). On your amazing journey together, take plenty of pictures to share with the folks back home.
Susan Breslow is the former Head of Publications for the ASPCA and the author of the children’s book "I Really Want a Dog." She writes about pets and people and cares for two rescued cocker spaniels.