The Traveler's Guide to Caring for Pets

Caring for pets while traveling can be a task in itself if proper preparations are not made first. Air travel with pets can be especially difficult, since certain requirements dictated by airlines must be adhered to before embarking.


It's important to research the restrictions and regulations of any country when traveling with pets overseas. Traveling with dogs is not much different than traveling with cats, although some countries have different regulations for each species.

  • Contact airline regarding regulations and reservations at least 6 weeks prior to departure.
  • Obtain a health certificate verifying the health of the animal by a veterinarian, dated within 10 days of departure.
  • Ensure all vaccinations are current.
  • Be aware of quarantine regulations.
  • Confirm reservation 24 to 48 hours prior to departure and inquire about any schedule changes.

Pet Carrier

Since an animal must travel in a container, it's important to select a comfortable one. Airlines offer containers for purchase or rental. Acquire the proper size container by using the animal's length, width and standing height. The pet must be able to stand, lie down, turn around and sit comfortably throughout the trip.

  • Familiarize the pet with the kennel prior to the trip.
  • Identify both the pet and the kennel with labels that include name, address, phone number and name of the person picking up the pet if you are not at the destination(s), especially if the kennel needs to
  • be transferred to another airplane. Allow for transfer time. Some airlines require another check-in.
  • Ensure that the collar or the pet's nails will not get caught in the container.
  • Never muzzle an animal during travel.
  • Label the container with "Live Animal" and use arrows to clearly identify the upright position of the container.
  • Include absorbent bedding or shredded paper or towels.
  • Show a food and water schedule on the outside of the container.
  • Secure the kennel door, but don't lock it in case of emergency.

Safety Points

Traveling in the cargo hold of an airplane exposes a pet to extreme hot and cold temperatures, rough handling, scarcity of oxygen, poor ventilation and cramped quarters. Here are some rules to ensure as pleasant a trip as possible.

  • Never sedate a pet unless directed to do so by a veterinarian, since high altitudes can have an adverse affect.
  • Have a leash readily available for walking but don't let the pet out of the kennel in the airport. Inspect your pet and document any problems. Take the pet to a veterinarian if there's anything wrong.
  • Give water and food four hours before departure. Include ice cubes in the water dish inside the kennel, so it will melt and not splash.
  • Don't travel during extreme temperatures, such as afternoon in the summer or night hours in the winter.
  • Use direct flights and always fly on the same flight as the pet.
  • Carry a photograph of your pet.
  • Do not ship pug-nosed animals (Pekingese, Persians or Bulldogs) since these breeds have short nasal passages, making them susceptible to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.
  • Besides using commercial airlines for pet travel, charter airlines and professional pet transportation services are also available.