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Ask Your Vet: Have Pet, Will Travel by Stefanie Wong, DVM
January 2, 2017

It can be hard to leave your pet behind when you go on vacation. These days we have options when it comes to including our pets in our travel plans. Whether you’re flying or driving, if you’re planning on taking your furry family member(s) on a trip with you, review this list to make sure you’re prepared.

By Air

  • Contact your airline – some may require a health certificate prior to travel. This is a document certifying that your pet is healthy enough to travel. A current physical exam within 10 days of your departure date and an up-to-date Rabies vaccination are required.
  • Traveling to Hawaii or out of country?
  • Besides a health certificate, there are additional requirements that must be satisfied before your pet can travel with you – if you’re journeying to Hawaii, see this website for more details.
  • Sedatives - this is an option you can discuss with your veterinarian as not all pets need sedatives, and in some patients, sedatives may not be recommended based on their health history.
  • Test runs - Get your pet used to spending time in a crate/kennel. Start with short increments of time and gradually work your way up to hours at a time. Try to make it a positive experience by giving them special toys/treats that they only get while in their crate. 

By Road

  • Take test drives of varying distances to see how your pet tolerates it.
  • Are you seeing drooling, licking lips or vomiting?
  • If so, your pet may get motion sickness. If it’s mild, it can sometimes be alleviated by rolling the windows down and taking turns more slowly. If it’s more severe, your veterinarian can give a recommendation for car sickness medication to help alleviate their nausea.
  • Are you seeing panting, anxiousness or nervous behavior?
  • If it’s mild, you can often try to distract your pet – if your pet is food motivated, try a food-stuffed Kong or other chew toy. If it’s more severe, talk to your vet about the benefits/risks of a sedative.
  • Did you know that according to a survey done by AAA - 30,000 accidents per year are caused by an unrestricted dog in the front seat?
  • In order to keep you (and your pet) safe, it’s best to restrain your pet – the best form of restraint being a crate or kennel. The next best option is purchasing a pet vehicle restraint – which often links your pet to a seatbelt via an attachment to a harness  (see picture).

  • Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even if it’s for a “quick stop.” Even in mild weather, temperatures inside a car can climb quickly, opening up the risk for your dog to develop heatstroke - a veterinary emergency.
  • Bring plenty of cool water and stop often – the AVMA recommends every 2-3 hours to allow for bathroom breaks, stretching their legs and allowing them to rehydrate.  

General Travel Tips

  • Prior to travel, take your pet for a long walk or run – this will help them to work off excess energy and may even help them to sleep while traveling.  
  • Make sure that your up-to-date contact information and their identification is on their collar or harness so that if they do get away from you, they can find their way back.
  • Another common form of ID that is vital to getting lost pets back to their owners is the microchip.
  • If your pet is microchipped already, please make sure your personal contact information is up-to-date! If you’ve moved or changed phone numbers since registering, you’ll need to go to to update your pet's information.


Any other questions regarding travel? From all of us at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center, travel safe!

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