Traveling with your Companion Animal

Traveling with your companion animals can be a fun adventure – whether it’s just for one day or several weeks. To make the experience happy and enjoyable for everyone, here are some tips to help you keep your companion safe and comfortable during your journey.


•  Don’t leave home without a collar and current identification on your dog or cat – a breakaway collar is advised for cats;

•  Add a temporary I.D. tag to each collar with a phone number where you can be reached while you are away – a cell phone number is highly recommended.

Vaccinations and Health Records

•  Before starting a vacation be sure all your companion animal’s vaccinations are current and that any health certificates are properly obtained prior to travel;

•  Bring copies of your companion animal’s vaccination records with you, as well as any other health records that may be required should your pet have an on-going medical condition;

•  If you have a companion animal that is on regular medication, be sure to bring along a sufficient amount of the prescription.  If the medication requires refrigeration, make sure there is a way to maintain the proper temperature;

•  If you are going to be using the services of a boarding kennel during your vacation, it will require that a dog be vaccinated for Bordatella (kennel cough).  Get your dog vaccinated for this at least one week prior to your departure, as it is not effective immediately.

For information on international and domestic travel requirements check out APHIS Pet Travel 

Health Concerns

•  You may be visiting places where there are insects that can cause your companion animal to develop health problems, so if your dog or cat is not already on a flea/tick preventative, or on heartworm preventative, purchase these products before leaving home;

•  You may be taking your companion animal to places where there are poisonous snakes.  Be prepared to look out for snakes and in areas where there is a higher risk, keep your dog on a leash to better control it should you encounter a snake;

•  If your dog is bitten by a snake, get it to a veterinarian as quickly as possible;

•  Certain animals are more susceptible to sunburns, skin cancer and heat exhaustion, and should not be exposed to direct, hot sunlight for extended periods.  This mostly applies to animals whose fur is completely white.

Staying Cool

•  Always have drinking water available, as well as a bowl.  Collapsible travel bowls can be purchased at most pet supply stores;

•  Do not exercise or walk your companion animal during the hottest time of the day;

•  Hot pavement or sand can burn a pet’s paws, so bring protective paw wear or avoid the hot pavement and sand altogether;

•  Cooling collars for dogs can be purchased at pet supply stores and may help keep your pet more comfortable.

Automobile Safety

•  Consider purchasing a seatbelt designed specifically for your size dog to keep it safe;

•  Consider purchasing a specially designed crate for small dogs, cats or other species in order to keep these animals safer in a car;

•  In many states it is against the law to allow a dog to ride in the back of a pickup truck unless it is secured.  Restraint devices designed specifically for this purpose can be purchased at pet supply stores;

•  Do not let an animal ride on your lap while driving – it is unsafe for them, for you and for any other passengers;

•  More frequently than people, companion animals need to get out and stretch their legs when traveling in a car for extended periods of time.  Online research before your trip will help you locate dog parks and the safest rest stops along your route.

For more information on how to keep both yourself and your pet safe during car ride check out AAA Pet Passenger Safety

Boat Safety

• If you are going to be out on the water with a dog, be sure to outfit it with a life jacket.  Pet supply stores sell life jackets specifically designed for canines of all sizes;


•  Don’t let an inexperienced dog move freely around a boat – give it time to get its sea legs.


Airline Travel

•  Most airlines have heat restrictions during the summer months that may prevent your companion animal from accompanying you on a flight;

•  If the temperature at the departure airport, any layover locations or at your final destination exceeds 85 degrees, most airlines will not allow your animal to travel;

•  Do not tranquilize your pet as a way to calm it before a flight.  Tranquilization can sometimes create respiratory problems and put your pet at serious risk;

•  Make sure the flight crate you will be using is approved by the airline. Normal requirements include air vents on all sides and a secure-lock door.  It also must be of a size that allows your animal to stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position;

•  Check with your airline carrier several weeks before departure to make sure you understand all the requirements with which you and your pet must comply.



•  Before starting a vacation, locate pet-friendly hotels and/or campgrounds along your route;

•  There are a number of Web sites on the Internet that provide information on pet-friendly lodging;

•  It is a good idea to bring a crate with you to keep the animal confined in the room when you will be gone – this prevents any accidents or trouble your pet might find, which can significantly increase the pet or damage fees;

•  If you are plan on sightseeing where companion animals are not welcome, you may want to research local pet daycare centers close to your destination where your animal can enjoy the day in the company of friends.



This SPCA International article is intended to help further your understanding of your animal's needs. We understand yourunique bond with your pet and it is our pleasure to help you look after its welfare. Thanks to your continued support, SPCA International is able to provide you and countless others with important news regarding the safety of your pets. Thank you again for your donations – every little bit helps!

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