Our pets are family! They are our constant treasured companions. But it can often feel like the responsibility of caring for them ties us to a single location. You might want to get out and experience new places or taste new cultures, but you hesitate because of your precious fur baby.
Transporting your pet can be challenging, but it’s not impossible! The increased levels of new sights, sounds, and smells make your dog or cat anxious, nervous, or, in some cases, excited. No matter their reaction, you need to be prepared to deal with the behavior that is the result.
You might be planning to take them on vacation to a pet-friendly hotel or one of our pet-friendly home exchanges. Or you might be making a more permanent change in location and need to transport your pet to their new home. Whatever your reason, there are a few things you need to remember.
When Transporting Your Pets, Remember…
1 - Consider the safety and comfort of everyone involved
Your pet’s safety and comfort are vital, but so are the safety and comfort of everyone around you. Your dog might not be a biter, but you can’t always predict how the other people on the train will behave or how your dog will react to them. Placing a muzzle on them might not be fun, but it will ensure everyone remains safe.
2 - Make sure your baby is calm and comfortable.
If they are in a crate, they need to be able to stand up and move around as needed. You can also add comfort items like their favorite blanket, toy, or object that smells like you. The familiar smell will help them feel more at ease.
With other forms of transportation, calming supplements are perfectly safe and can be a great way to calm your pet enough for travel.
3 - Motion sickness is common amongst cats and dogs.
Pets get motion sick just as often as people. One of the best ways to combat this is with Dramamine, the same drug many humans use. Cats and small dogs can take around 12.5 milligrams, while medium to large dogs should be given 25-50 milligrams. Make sure you discuss any dose with your veterinarian and provide it to them at least an hour before traveling so it has enough time to take effect.
4 - Consider adding some flare to your pet’s crate.
Adding stickers or other creative markers will help you identify your baby’s crate. Traveling is chaotic!
5 - Make sure their tags are current.
Up-to-date microchips are even better! This is just a precaution in case there is a mixup or mishap.
6 - Not all pets are suited for travel.
If your pet struggles around strangers, is sensitive to unknown sounds or is generally fearful or anxious, you might want to think twice before flying with them. Only do it if there is no other option.
Flying with Your Pet
Airplanes are one of the most pet-friendly modes of transportation and, in many cases, the best way to transport your pet over long distances. It is fast, and most airlines are experienced in transporting animals. That being said, it can be a stressful ordeal for all involved.
Flying with your pet in the cabin
If your pet is small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you, they can join you in the cabin as a carry-on item. You must notify the airline and prepare to pay a pet fee.
Airplanes can only accommodate a few pets in the cabin at a time, so make sure you book far in advance and make all the necessary arrangements. Airlines will have different weight or size requirements, so look up your airline’s pet guidelines before booking.
They will likely have regulations regarding vaccines and health certificates, so make sure you look that up as well.
Flying with your pet as cargo
If your pet does not meet the in-cabin size requirements, is not a trained service dog, or no more pets are allowed in the plane, the second option is to travel with them as cargo.
Live animals are loaded into pressurized and temperature-controlled areas in the cargo. Airlines will have different policies and restrictions, so look up your specific airline’s pet policies before flying. Not all planes are designed to carry live animals, and frequently space is limited, so plan ahead.
DO NOT SEDATE your pet before air travel. Sedatives affect heart rate, and respiration can throw off your pet’s equilibrium, and when combined with the air pressure on planes, they can cause serious health problems. Airlines will not accept pets that are sedated.
4 Tips for Flying with Your Pet:
Bring nylon cables that you can use to tie the crate closed after the airline personnel has inspected the crate. It’s just extra precautions to ensure the crate doesn’t fly open in route.
Airlines require you to place food and water bowls in the crate. Freezing the water allows your baby to stay hydrated without spillage.
Remind the gate agent that you are traveling with a pet in cargo and ask to see them loaded into the plane. Or, at the very least, or check in with the ground crew to confirm that your baby is safely on the plane. It doesn’t hurt to provide a cute photo or gift card incentive.
On travel day, give yourself extra time to check your pet in. You will need to check them in at a separate cargo area first. Make sure you have all the paperwork ready.
Other Pet-Friendly Modes of Transportation
Planes might be the best way to transport your pet long distances, but there are plenty of other modes of transportation that are pet friendly.
Dogs are not allowed on seats; all pets must be completely controlled on a leash or in a carrier. Keep them close and keep your pet’s and fellow travelers’ comfort and safety in mind.
In the US, Amtrak allows pets to travel on trains on a first come, first serve basis. Pets in carriers can’t exceed 20 pounds, and there is a limit of 1 pet per passenger. For dogs, there is a $25 fee.
Trains in Europe, Rail Europe and RailJet allow pets to travel with them. Eurostar trains only allow service dogs for the visually impaired. Most local trains will also allow them in carriers or on a leash and muzzled. Make sure to check your specific train service.
Taxi or Rideshare
It is entirely up to the driver’s discretion. Most will allow pets, and you can always look for another driver on the rare occasion that they don’t. You are less likely to encounter issues if your pet is well-behaved and under control.
The rules might vary from city to city, but most trams allow dogs leashed and muzzled or pets in small carriers.
Ferries usually allow pets in pet-friendly cabins, onboard kennels, or your vehicle. In other words, they must be kept from other travelers or the boat’s edge.
It’s a little obvious but worth mentioning that cars are a very common pet-friendly mode of transportation. When all else fails, you can usually get where you need to go with your furry friend in a car.
Only service dogs are allowed on ships or cruises. Because of the long travel time, and conditions, most pets have a difficult time. Service dogs are thoroughly trained and thus handle conditions better.
To sum it up,
Transporting your pet can be difficult, but with preparation, you both can have a safe and comfortable trip. You can safely transport your precious pet with some preparation and precautions. Just follow the advice above and research your specific destination and the possible modes of transportation available.
We know you love your pet. That beautiful dog or cat is a precious member of the family. You should be able to take them with you wherever life takes you. Whether it’s a vacation at one of your pet-friendly home exchanges or a new season in life, your precious fur baby is with you for the journey.