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traveling long distance with cats or dogs

Summer Travel When You Have Pets – Tips and Tricks

It’s that time of year where people are traveling with their pets. I own a veterinary hospital in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Victoria Park Animal Hospital. We are a hub for travelers, tourists, and snowbirds. I would say that I sign at least two health certificates per day for pet travel during these busy months. Traveling long distance with cats or dogs can be stress-free and easy or completely frustrating and tedious. It is important to be organized, know what you need to cross state or international lines with your pet, and be prepared.

While air travel restrictions now exist due to COVID-19, some airlines are still allowing air travel at this time. Always check with your airline well in advance to avoid any last minute issues.

Let’s touch on some important tips when traveling with pets.

What do I need to consider when traveling long distance with cats or dogs?

  • Some pets cannot handle travel because of illness, injury, age, or temperament. Speak with your veterinarian regarding your pet’s safety and wellbeing during travel.
  • Make sure your pet has identification tags with up-to-date information. Microchips are a great way to identify your pet if they are ever lost.
  • If you are taking your pet across state or international borders, you will need a health certificate. The health certificate must be signed by a USDA-certified veterinarian after an examination determines your pet does not have any diseases. Your pets must be up-to-date on all vaccinations in order to finalize the health certificate.
  • Make sure your pet is permitted at your destination whether that be a friend’s house, a hotel/motel, park, or campground, etc.

Whom should I contact in order to prepare travel arrangements?

What supplies should I have for my pet on my trip?

  • Your veterinarian’s contact information
  • List of veterinarians and 24-hour emergency hospitals along the way and close to your destination
  • Identification (current color photo of your pet, ID tag including owners name, current address, contact phone number, Travel ID tag including owners name, address, contact phone number, accommodations contact information, microchip registration)
  • Medical records
  • Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate)
  • Acclimation certificate for air travel (a form from your veterinarian to waive the low temperature Federal regulation as stated in the Animal Welfare Act – only some airlines require this form, so check with yours)
  • Items for your pets (prescribed medications, collar, leash, harness, crate, bed/blankets, toys, food and cool, fresh water, food and water dishes, first aid kit for your pet)

Can I bring my pet out of the country with me?

Yes, usually, but things are up in the air with air travel these days, especially regarding international travel.

But if you must go out of the country with your pet, keep in mind that you must follow BOTH the United States regulations as well as the regulations in the other country where you are traveling.

You will need to contact the Consulate or Embassy in that country to find out their regulations. Some countries require months of preparation before you can leave, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare and have all documents and medical requirements ready and available. International travel always requires a health certificate signed by a USDA certified veterinarian.

I’m actually traveling without my pet. What do I need to know about cat or dog daycare and boarding?

If you’re traveling without your pet, you probably need to know more about in home pet sitting or cat and dog daycare and boarding options than travel plans. But many of the pet boarding rules are similar to pet travel rules.

  • Make sure your pets are up-to-date on all vaccinations and have had a regular check-up within the last 6 months.
  • Make sure your pets have proper identification and/or are microchipped.
  • Prepare all medications or special diet foods in advance, and write out instructions for administering these extra elements.
  • If planning on in home pet sitting or daycare for dogs or cats, provide the facility with emergency contact information for you or a friend or family member who will be in town.

Final Thoughts on Traveling Long Distance With Cats or Dogs

Enjoy these basic answers to common questions about traveling with your pets.

The key is to PREPARE.

Know what the USDA, your airline, or the country you’re traveling to will require. Your veterinarian aids and helps in smooth travels; however, knowing about required documents and what you need is your responsibility.

When traveling abroad, learn the requirements 6 months in advance because some countries will require that amount of time to prepare.

I hope this is helpful and you have happy, stress-free travels this summer!

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