Traveling with your pet can be a fun adventure and an experience to remember fondly, but to ensure things go smoothly, you will have to iron out all the details before you leave home. If you have upcoming travel plans with your furry friend, read our Central Houston Animal Hospital team’s important tips for stress-free travel with your pet. 

Plan for your pet to accompany you

Thoroughly preparing for a trip with your pet ensures that you are both ready for your time away from home. In addition, a reliable plan helps make the trip go smoothly. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the following trip preparations:

  • Consider your options Although you likely want your pet to accompany you on all your trips, some pets do better staying behind. Before you decide to travel with your pet, consider whether their age, health, and temperament are conducive to traveling. If you decide your pet should stay behind, you have plenty of care options, including:
    • A family member or trusted friend
    • An experienced pet sitter
    • An accredited boarding facility 
  • Schedule a veterinary appointment — Schedule a veterinary appointment to ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date, and that they are microchipped and healthy enough for travel. If you are planning to fly with your pet, scheduling a veterinary appointment should be number one on your to-do list. Airlines require all animal passengers to have a health certificate that their veterinarian issued and signed within 10 days of departure. Your veterinarian can also recommend calming supplements or motion-sickness medication to keep your pet comfortable while away from home. 
  • Acclimate your pet to traveling — Before road-tripping with your pet, help them adjust to long periods in a vehicle by taking them on several short drives, and gradually lengthening the time on the road. The safest way for your pet to travel in a vehicle is in a secure, well-ventilated crate, which is large enough for them to stand, lie down, and turn around. Keep your pet in the vehicle’s backseat to avoid an injury from a deployed airbag, and secure the crate to prevent it from sliding if you stop quickly. 
  • Pack your pet’s supplies — Ensure your pet has everything they need to feel comfortable and stay safe during your travels. Prep a pet-friendly travel kit that includes the following essentials:
    • Food and water
    • Travel bowls
    • Leash and harness
    • Disposable bags
    • Medication and first-aid items
    • Travel documents
    • Bedding
    • Favorite toy 
    • Crate

Keep your pet safe and comfortable during your trip 

Traveling can feel overwhelming for a pet. Therefore, you must take precautions to ensure your pet stays safe and comfortable while traveling by doing the following: 

  • Properly identify your pet — In an unfamiliar environment, your pet can easily become confused, and perhaps become lost. To help ensure you and your pet will be reunited if you become separated during your trip, ensure your four-legged friend has appropriate identification. Microchipping your pet is the best way to provide permanent identification, but you must remember to keep your contact information up-to-date in the microchip’s registry. Your pet should also wear a collar and tags with your current cell phone number, so you can be easily contacted if someone finds your pet. 
  • Ensure your pet is properly restrained — Reduce your pet’s risk of getting loose or injured by keeping them securely on leash at all times while traveling. 
  • Make frequent stops for your pet — Take many breaks while on the road, and give your pet plenty of opportunities to relieve themselves and stretch their legs. On a road trip, plan to stop every two to three hours, and to ensure your pet cannot get loose, put their leash on before opening the vehicle door.  

After your trip

  • Decompress with your pet — After returning home from a trip with your pet, schedule some down time so you both can decompress and get back in the swing of things. Pets thrive on consistency, so unpack, clean up, and get back to your regular routine quickly. 
  • Reflect and make adjustments for the future — Soon after you get home, reflect on your trip and jot down things that went well and things you would do differently. By noting these do’s and don’ts, your next trip with your pet will be even better.

Before taking a trip with your pet, follow our tips to ensure your four-legged friend is prepared to hit the road or head out to the wild blue yonder. Contact our Central Houston Animal Hospital team to schedule a veterinary appointment before you leave home.