Holiday Hazards 4: Traveling with Your Pet


Pets can make holiday traveling even more special – after all, a big part of what makes the holiday season so endearing is getting to spend time with those you care about most! In preparation for your pet’s travels, check out our thoughts and recommendations so you can avoid any ‘bumps’ in your plans:

Traveling to another state?

States can have different requirements for animals entering the state (even for a brief visit). For example, some may require a current, valid health certificate from a USDA accredited veterinarian while others may not. Vaccinations and parasite testing may also need to be up to date. Check the USDA website for specific state requirements.

Traveling out of the country?

Check the USDA website for the destination country’s specific rules and guidelines. Health certificates, vaccinations, intestinal parasite control, and disease testing are some things that may be required for international travel. Sometimes the requirements are complicated and may even take months of pre-planning – so do your research early!

Traveling by car?

  • Make sure you and your pet arrive safely! Restraining pets with pet seatbelts or carriers is a great way to keep your pet hazard free in the car.
    • Restraining your dog or cat can help them feel more secure and comfortable for the ride.
    • Should you have a car accident, the restraint will help protect your pet.
    • Since your pet will not be running around the car and causing distractions, you will be more likely to arrive at your destination safely.
  • Many pets do well riding in cars, but some can become anxious.
    • It may take a little work and time, but you can actually take steps to desensitize your pet from the anxiety by slowly working them up to longer car rides. For example, try taking your pet out to the car and putting them in the car. When your pet is calm you can praise them and give a treat reward. Then, let your pet get out of the car and go back inside the house. You can slowly work up to taking small trips around the block and then work up from there. Remember to praise your dog for calm behavior and do your best to ignore the anxious behavior.
    • Also try giving your pet a distraction while in the car to help put the focus on something besides the car ride (a favorite toy, a Kong toy filled with peanut butter, etc.).
    • Calming synthetic pheromones may be helpful. Products like Feliway (for cats) and Adaptil (for dogs) mimic species-specific pheromones and can have a calming effect on your pet.
    • Consider speaking with one of our veterinarians if the anxiety is severe or if techniques described here are unsuccessful.
  • Some pets will get carsick. This can either be from anxiety (see above), or from the motion. We encourage you to talk with one of our veterinarians about ways to help if motion sickness is the cause (possibly through medications).

Traveling by airplane?

Be sure to check with the airline ahead of time for specific pet travel requirements. If you are concerned your pet may be anxious while traveling then be sure to speak with one of our doctors about ways to help ease the anxiety.

Happy (and safe) traveling!

Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS