car and plane travel tips with pet

Tips for Pets Traveling by Car or Plane

Many pet owners consider their furry friend’s family and include them in their travel plans, whether it be a quick road trip or a flight to a fun destination. While not all pets enjoy traveling and leaving their home, we have put together some tips and tricks that should make traveling with your pet more pleasant and safe for both parties.

Traveling with Pets in the Car

One of the most important aspects of traveling with your pet in the car is making sure that they are safely secured and cannot roam around the vehicle. This not only allows the driver to fully concentrate on the road, but also protects your pet in the event of an accident. While pet seatbelts are widely used and available, the safest travel method is securing your pet in a crate. This fully removes distractions from the driver, prevents the pet from running away or jumping out the window, and adds an additional protective layer if ever in an accident.

  • Avoid allowing your pet in the front seat of the vehicle. If an airbag deploys your pet can be severely injured.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended in the car.  Unfortunately, there are people who may be looking to steal your adorable pet and high or low outdoor temperatures can be fatal. Remember, if it is hot outside, it is even hotter in the vehicle.
  • No matter how much they may love it, do not allow your pet to stick their head out the window. This can cause harm to their eyes.
  • Do not transport your pets in the back of an open or flatbed truck.
  • Take them potty often! Avoid accidents and most importantly, give them the opportunity to stretch their legs.

Traveling with Pets by Plane

Traveling by plane is not the most suitable method for pets and should only happen when there are no other viable options. Flying can be especially dangerous for pets with brachycephalic faces like pugs or bulldogs and Persian cats. These animals have an increased risk of heat stroke and oxygen deprivation due to their nasal anatomy. If it is necessary to have your pet travel via airplane, always have them in the cabin with you. Keep in mind that this is more expensive, and some airlines may have restrictions in terms of your pet’s size and their carrier. Prior to your flight, please make sure that you are fully prepared and comply with the airline’s policies.

Just as you do, your pet will need to go through security! To expedite this process, be prepared to restrain your pet while their carrier is being inspected.

If your pet is unable to fly in the main cabin and there is no other transport option available, please know that the risk of your pet being lost, injured, or even killed while traveling below the main cabin is a possibility. These unfortunate events are caused by unsecured crates, turbulence, handling, poor ventilation, and drastic temperature fluctuations.

To increase the chances of your pet having the most pleasant and safe trip, please consider the following:

  • Fly direct! Layovers are not fun for anyone.
  • Don’t send your pet on a solo expedition, be on the same flight as them.
  • Keep a picture of your pet handy while traveling in case your pet goes missing. This makes finding them a lot quicker and smoother.
  • Avoid feeding your pet 4-6 hours prior to your trip to ensure that they are not forced to hold their bowels during the flight or have an accident. But small amounts of water given throughout the travel is encouraged to prevent dehydration.
  • Be sure to let flight crew know that there is at least one pet traveling below the main cabin.
  • Make sure that your pet has all ID tags secure on their collar and that your pet is microchipped.
  • Do a thorough onceover of your pet before and after your flight. If you notice any changes in their behavior or appearance, take them to a vet immediately.
  • Get your pet comfortable and familiar with the carrier weeks prior to the flight.
  • Make sure to enclose your contact information in the crate or somewhere on the carrier.
  • Do research prior to booking your flight to choose a time with the least amount of temperature changes. Meaning, if it is going to be a hot day, try to travel in the evening when the temperatures are more comfortable and tolerable. And in opposition, if you are traveling on a cold day, try to travel during the day when it is typically warm.

If you plan to travel by car or plane with your pet to another state or internationally, your pet may require a certificate of veterinary inspection. Please call Scappoose Veterinary Hospital at (503) 543-6464 to learn more.