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Pet Travel Guide

Traveling with pets isn’t easy, even for experienced travelers. For many owners, it’s easier to leave their pets behind at a friend’s house or a boarding facility, but for others, that may not be an option.

Whenever and wherever you plan on traveling with your beloved pet, it’s important to be well informed about the risks associated with pet travel. It can be complicated and expensive to bring your pet with you, but it can also be rewarding to have your best friend by your side.

Not only is it important to prepare your pet for travel, but you should also be aware of all of your options. Traveling by car is often the most convenient mode of transportation for travelers with pets, but that’s not always the best option, especially if you’re traveling overseas.

This guide will help ensure that you’re prepared for your trip. You’ll learn what airlines are best for pet travel, what you need to bring, and how to travel safely with your furry companion. Remember, the better informed you are, the more smoothly your trip will go.

Before You Travel

Traveling with your pet doesn’t need to be stressful, as long as you’re willing to spend a bit of time preparing for the trip in advance. It’s unfair to expect your pet to behave during travel if you haven’t thoroughly prepared him beforehand. However, preparing your pet for travel is a simple process that can be started a few weeks before your departure.

How to Prepare Your Pet for Travel

To help minimize the stress involved with traveling with your pet, it’s crucial that you begin preparing several weeks before your trip. This step is especially important for pets that have little to no traveling experience. Pets that are experienced travelers may not need as much preparation as those traveling for the first time.

A few weeks before your trip, you need to get the kennel that your pet will be traveling in and make it comfortable for your pet. The goal during this time is to encourage your pet to enjoy his or her time in the kennel so that it will serve as a safe space during travel.

Start by making the kennel as appealing to your pet as possible. Put a soft blanket or bed inside and perhaps your pet’s favorite toy. If your pet doesn’t want to explore the new space right away, you can try enticing him by tossing a few treats inside.

Don’t immediately shut the door behind your pet. That can frighten the animal and cause him to associate the kennel with unpleasant experiences. Instead, praise him for entering and offer him treats while inside.

Repeat this process often during the weeks leading up to your trip. With practice, you may soon see your pet spending his free time relaxing in his kennel. This behavior is exactly what you want to see.

No matter how much time you spend preparing your pet, travel is going to be stressful. This preparation will not eliminate the stress, but it will help minimize it. The less stressed your pet is during travel, the less stressed you’ll be too.

Medications While Traveling

Some pets have intense anxiety during travel and it may be worthwhile discussing this with your vet prior to your departure. Your veterinarian may be able to prescribe a calming medication such as trazodone, gabapentin, or alprazolam to help your pet relax during your trip.

However, many airlines and veterinarians discourage pet owners from sedating their pets due to the increased risk of heart and respiratory problems. Although air travel may be stressful, the stress is sometimes better than putting your pet’s health at risk. If you do medicate your pet, the airline may ask for your veterinarian’s written approval before allowing your pet on board.

For car travel, most veterinarians recommend trying the medication out before your trip to make sure your pet handles sedation well. This way, you’ll know what to expect when it’s time for your pet to get in the car.

You may also want to consider non-prescription alternatives such as calming hemp or CBD chews. Calming chews are available over the counter and usually contain natural ingredients to help your pet relax during the trip. Again, if you plan on giving your pet calming chews on your trip, you should consider trying them out before your trip so you know what to expect.

Regardless of your method of transportation, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about any medications or supplements you plan on giving your pet during your trip.

Air Travel

Most pet owners avoid traveling by air with their pets unless it’s the only reasonable option. Traveling with pets by air can be expensive and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you prepare.

Travel Documents

Whether you’re traveling by car or by plane, it’s crucial that you have the right paperwork with you to verify that your pet belongs to you and that he or she is healthy enough to travel. 

The exact documentation that you’ll need to bring with you will vary according to your destination and method of travel. Different species may also have different requirements.

Wherever you plan on taking your pet, be sure to check with local authorities to ensure you have the proper documentation ready upon your pet’s arrival. Here are a few of the essentials.

Health Certificate

The most important document to bring with you is a health certificate issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian. This document simply states that your pet has been properly examined by your veterinarian and is healthy enough to travel safely.

Health certificates generally list your pet’s identifying information such as breed, color, and gender. If your pet has been microchipped, the type of microchip he or she has will also be listed, along with the unique microchip number.

Many destinations require pets to be microchipped before arrival, so if your pet has not yet been microchipped, now is the time to do so.

The exact information stated on the health certificate will depend on your destination. If you plan on taking your pet across international borders, that information will be determined by the country of destination.

Some countries require that health certificates also contain vaccination records or any records related to mandatory quarantines. The health certificates required by rabies-free countries typically require more information than countries with reported cases of rabies.

The health certificate will also contain your contact information, which will serve to verify that you are the owner.

Finally, the health certificate will be signed and dated by your veterinarian. Typically, this certificate will need to be obtained within 10 days of your departure, but be sure to check with your destination to make sure that your health certificate meets the requirements. 

Without a proper health certificate, your pet may be denied entry into some countries or placed in quarantine for up to 10 days or more.

Proof of Vaccinations

Whether you’re traveling to a neighboring town or taking your pet overseas, it’s critical to have proof of your pet’s vaccinations with you at all times. In many places, vaccinations are required by law and you may face fines or rejection if you cannot provide the appropriate documentation.

Nearly every destination will require proof that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies. For some countries, the vaccine must be administered within a certain time frame before your pet’s arrival. This time frame is especially important if you’re traveling to rabies free countries or the state of Hawai’i, which has also been deemed rabies free.

Some destinations may also require proof of vaccination against common canine diseases such as parvovirus and distemper. Cats may or may not need proof of any vaccines other than rabies.

For more information on travel requirements and restrictions for pets, please visit the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website. The website provides information on traveling with all animals including dogs, cats, livestock, and exotic animals.

If you’re planning on traveling by air, it’s important to check not only with your country or state of destination, but the airline as well. Some airlines will require proof of vaccination before accepting any pet onboard an aircraft. 

Photos

Most pet owners’ smartphones are filled with photos of their beloved pets. Not only are those photos fun to show off to friends and family, they’re also an important part of any traveler’s safety net. Your digital photos provide you with a way to identify your pet should he or she become lost or misidentified at any point in your travels.

You should also consider taking photos of your pet’s kennel or carrier. Though it’s unlikely that the airline will misplace your pet, anything is possible and it’s best to be prepared. It’s much easier to show an airline agent a photo of your pet and his or her kennel than it is to describe them in detail.

If your pet will be traveling by cargo, some airlines may require photos of your pet’s kennel when you make arrangements for travel. This is so that they can verify that the kennel is an approved size and type of container.

Air Travel Packing Checklist

  • Health certificate
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Photos of pet and kennel
  • Airline approved kennel or carrier
  • Contact information that can be attached to the kennel
  • Identification tags
  • Collar and leash
  • Potty pads
  • Food and water bowls
  • Food for duration of travel
  • Blanket or toy from home
  • Treats
  • Contact information for vets near your destination

How to Travel with Pets In-Cabin

Remember, only small pets are allowed to travel in-cabin with you, so if you will be traveling with a larger animal, he or she will likely need to travel in cargo. As always, check with your airline to make arrangements for your pet in advance and to make sure you adhere to their requirements.

Before Your Trip

After booking travel arrangements for your pet to accompany you in-cabin, it’s important that you make sure your pet carrier is airline approved. Different airlines will have different requirements for kennels allowed in-cabin, so be sure to verify your kennel’s dimensions with the airline prior to travel.

Most airlines will also require kennels to be leak proof and escape proof, so you may need to consider adjusting the kennel by lining the kennel with disposable or washable potty pads or altering the kennel’s closures to make it more secure.

Once you’re certain that your kennel is secure and adheres to the airline’s size requirements, you need to gather the necessary paperwork. Again, this varies by airline and destination, so you may want to contact an airline representative to make sure you have what you need.

As previously mentioned, you may need to wait until 10 days or less before your trip to make an appointment with your veterinarian to get a health certificate. After you have the necessary paperwork, you just need to focus on getting your pet used to his travel kennel.

At the Airport

Your first stop at the airport should be the airline ticket counter. Even if you already have your boarding pass, you may still need to pay the fee for your pet and check in. Most airlines require pet carriers to be tagged by an agent before boarding.

Fees for pets traveling in-cabin vary by airline and will be discussed later on. Once you’ve paid the appropriate fees and checked in, it’s time to go through security.

TSA will not require your pet to go through a scanner with the kennel, but the kennel will need to be screened separately. You’ll likely be asked to remove your pet from his carrier so that you can carry him through the walk-through scanners.

After you’ve gone through security, your pet will need to be placed back inside his kennel. Most airports require pets to stay in their kennel in the airport except in designated pet relief areas.

Not all airports have designated pet relief areas beyond security, so it’s important to check with the agent at the ticket counter or the airport staff before going through security. This way, you can offer your pet a chance to relieve himself without having to go through security twice.

Onboard the Aircraft

After you’ve boarded the aircraft, you’ll need to make sure your pet’s carrier fits neatly below the seat in front of you. As long as you have an airline approved kennel, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Your pet will need to remain inside the kennel during taxi, takeoff, and landing. Some airlines may allow you to hold your pet’s kennel on your lap during the flight, but you’ll need to check with flight attendants.

No matter how well-behaved your pet may be, for his safety as well as the safety of other passengers, it’s important to keep him inside his kennel while onboard the aircraft. You may talk to your pet and reach inside to pet and comfort him, but you may not remove him.

How to Travel with Pets in Cargo

If you’re traveling with a larger pet, or are traveling to a destination that does not permit pets to travel in-cabin, you’ll need to arrange for your pet to travel in cargo. Preparing your pet to travel in cargo isn’t any more difficult than traveling in-cabin, but there are requirements you need to be aware of.

Before Your Trip

The sooner you book travel arrangements for your pet the better, so make sure you arrange everything as soon as possible. Most owners make travel arrangements for their pets at the same time they book their own flights. However, some airlines restrict cargo bookings until 10 days prior to departure, so be sure to check with the airline.

Not all airlines allow pets to travel by cargo, so it’s important to start researching your options well before your date of travel. You’ll also need to make sure that your pet’s kennel adheres to the airline’s requirements. If not, your pet may be refused at check-in, which could complicate your travel plans.

Make sure your pet’s kennel is an airline approved brand and is both leak proof and escape proof. Some airlines have restrictions on the type of bedding allowed in kennels as well as the type of kennel door or latch, so be sure to check with your airline.

Some airlines allow customers to send them photos of their kennel to verify that it’s an approved model before they show up to the airport, so be sure to ask an airline representative if this option is available.

As with traveling in-cabin, you’ll need to make sure you have all of the necessary documentation required for your pet to travel to your destination. This includes health certificates, vaccination records, and certificates of acclimated if required.

At the Airport

Once you arrive at the airport, you’ll need to check your pet in with the airline. Some airlines will allow pets to be checked in at the ticket counter, while others require pets to check in at a different location, so you’ll need to check with the airline to make sure you go to the right place.

You may also want to find a pet relief area to give your pet one last chance to relieve himself before check-in. This is also a great opportunity to offer him food and water as well. Once you’re certain he’s ready to go, you can check him in with the airline agent, who will then make sure your pet makes it onboard the aircraft.

Onboard the Aircraft

There is little to be done once you board the aircraft, but it doesn’t hurt to check in with the flight attendants to make sure that they’re aware that there are pets onboard and they belong to you.

During the flight, you will not have access to your pet as he will be in the cargo hold. For many pet owners this can be a stressful experience, but it’s important to understand that thousands of pets travel safely in cargo every year with very few problems.

Most owners have heard the horror stories of accidents that have occurred to pets traveling in cargo, but these incidents are few and far between. This is why many airlines have breed restrictions and require veterinary approval before traveling. They want your pet to arrive safely just as much as you do.

Top 7 Airlines for Traveling with Pets

Not all airlines allow pets, so it’s important to book your flight with an airline you can trust to take care of your beloved family member. Here are the top seven airlines with stellar reputations for pet travel. Please see each airline’s pet policy for more information.

Lufthansa

  • Lufthansa’s pet policy can be found here.

Delta Airlines

  • Delta Airlines’ pet policy can be found here.

American Airlines

  • American Airlines’ pet policy can be found here.

United Airlines

  • United Airlines’ pet policy can be found here.

Southwest Airlines

  • Southwest Airlines’ pet policy can be found here.

Alaska Airlines

  • Alaska Airlines’ pet policy can be found here.

JetBlue Airlines

  • JetBlue Airlines’ pet policy can be found here.

Top 3 Airline Approved Carriers

When traveling with your pet in-cabin, it’s essential that you have a carrier approved for travel by the airlines. Though most airlines have similar requirements, it’s important to check with the specific airline you’ll be traveling with to make sure your pet’s carrier adheres to their guidelines.

In Cabin

Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier

The Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier has been designed with a spring wire frame so that it can be pushed down to conform to most airlines’ under seat requirements. 

The carrier is available in small, medium, and large, as well as a variety of color options. The dimensions of each size are as follows:

  • Small - 15”L x 10”W x 8.5”H - suitable for pets up to 8 lbs
  • Medium - 17”L x 11”W x 10.5”H - suitable for pets up to 16 lbs
  • Large - 19”L x 11.5”W x 11”H - suitable for pets up to 22 lbs

The Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier features mesh windows for ventilation and a faux sheepskin liner to ensure your pet travels in comfort. The carrier allows for side or top entry, both with locking zippers. It also has a padded, adjustable shoulder strap as well as a luggage and seat belt strap. 

This carrier is included in Sherpa’s Guaranteed on Board Program, which states that as long as your pet is able to fit comfortably in the carrier, it will be accepted by any airline that allows pets traveling in cabin.

PetAmi Premium Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

The PetAmi Premium Soft-Sided Pet Carrier is perfect for any small pet traveling in cabin. It was designed with your pet’s safety and comfort in mind. The bag was made with durable polyester fabric and safety buckle zippers. 

The reinforced structure maintains its shape without crowding your pet, but can be folded down to fit below the seat in front of you. The carrier is available in 14 different colors and two sizes:

  • Small - 17.5”L x 10.2”W x 11.2”H
  • Large - 19.5”L x 10.2”W x 12”H

The PetAmi Premium Soft-Sided Pet Carrier has dual-sided access to allow your pet to easily enter and exit the carrier. It has a soft, sherpa lining and plenty of mesh windows for ventilation and viewing. There’s also an internal safety strap that can be attached to a collar or harness to help prevent your pet from escaping. 

This airline-approved carrier also features a luggage and seat belt strap as well as a comfortable, adjustable shoulder strap. The shoulder strap is also removable, if you’d prefer to use the padded handles instead.

Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier

The SleepyPod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier is designed to keep small pets comfortable and secure while traveling by air. It’s made of luggage-grade ballistic nylon with a plush polyester lining. This carrier is available in six different colors. 

The dimensions of the Sleepypod Air are as follows:

  • One Size Only - 22”L x 10.5”W x 10.5”H
  • Recommended for dogs up to 15 pounds and cats up to 18 pounds

The Sleepypod Air allows the tops and ends to be opened for easy entry and exit. The plush liner is machine washable and opens up to accommodate an optional electrical warmer pad. 

The carrier features an adjustable, padded shoulder strap and luggage/seat belt strap. There is also a padded strap on the top of the carrier for easy handling. The inside of the Sleepypod Air features a safety tether that can be attached to a collar or harness to help prevent pets from escaping.

The Sleepyod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier weighs approximately four pounds and folds flat for easy storage when not in use.

Cargo

For pets traveling in cargo, it’s important to have a kennel that is both sturdy and comfortable. These are some of the top kennels on the market that have been designed with both safety and comfort in mind.

Petmate Sky Kennel

The Petmate Sky Kennel was designed for air travel. It’s constructed with a durable plastic shell held together with non-corrodible wing nuts and steel wire. The kennel features ventilation on all four sides and meets most airline cargo requirements. It also comes with air travel essentials such as “Live Animal” stickers, clip-on bowls, and identification stickers.

This kennel is available in a range of sizes. The dimensions of each size are as follows:

  • 21-Inch - 21”L x 15”W x 16”H
  • 28-Inch - 28”L x 20.5”W x 21.5”H
  • 32-Inch - 32”L x 22.5”W x 24”H
  • 36-Inch - 36”L x 25”W x 27”H
  • 40-Inch - 40”L x 27”W x 30”H
  • 48-Inch - 48”L x 32”W x 35”H

The 21-Inch and 28-Inch options include a handle on top of the kennel. Kennels measuring 36 inches and up feature a 4-way vault door for added security. 

Regardless of size, the interior of the kennel is raised to allow liquids to drain away from the animal. The Petmate Sky Kennel also features tie-down holes on the sides of the kennel.

Aspen Pet Porter

The Aspen Pet Porter Travel Kennel is designed to keep your pet safe and comfortable while traveling in cargo. It is approved by most airlines, as long as the size is correct for the pet. The plastic shell is lightweight for easy transport, but heavy duty enough to last. The kennel features ventilation on all four sides. 

The Aspen Pet Porter comes in a range of sizes:

    • 19 Inches - Up to 10 lbs - 19”L x 10”W x 12.6”H 
    • 24 Inches - Up to 20 lbs - 24”L x 14.5”W x 16.5”H
    • 28 Inches - Up to 30 lbs - 28”L x 20.5”W x 21.5”H 
  • 32 Inches - Up to 50 lbs - 32”L x 22.5”W x 24”H
  • 36 Inches - Up to 70 lbs - 36”L x 24.5”W x 27”H
  • 40 Inches - Up to 90 lbs -  40”L x 27”W x 30”H

The metal nuts and bolts on the Aspen Pet Porter ensure that your pet travels safely and securely in cargo. All kennels 28 Inches and below feature a sturdy handle on top of the kennel for convenient handling. 

The Aspen Pet Porter is designed with a raised floor to aid in draining any liquids away from the animal. It’s designed to be used with the absorbent bedding of your choice and can easily be wiped or hosed down for cleaning.

IRIS Extra Pet Travel Carrier

The IRIS Extra Pet Travel Carrier is approved by most airlines for use with pets traveling in cargo. It is collapsible for easy storage when not in use. This carrier comes in two color choices: Red and Navy Blue.

The IRIS Extra Pet Travel Carrier is available in the following sizes:

  • 18 Inch - 18.11”L x 11.42”W x 11.22”H
  • 26 Inch - 26.4”L x 18.5”W x 20”H
  • 34 Inch - 34.25”L x 24.41”W x 26”H

This pet carrier features ample ventilation on three sides so your pet always has fresh air and can see what’s happening around him. A removable food and water tray is included to comply with airlines’ requests that food and water must be offered before travel. 

The IRIS Extra Pet Travel Carrier has sturdy, foldable handles for easy transport. On larger sizes, the door can be opened from the left or right. All sizes of kennels have secure spring-loaded latches.

Air Travel Accessories

For the most stress-free flight with your pet, it’s important to be prepared. Having the right accessories with you is the key to keeping your pet clean and comfortable until you reach your destination. Here are some of the top accessories for traveling by air with your pet.

Potty Pads

Amazon Basics Odor Control Pet Training Pads

The Amazon Basics Odor Control Pet Training Pads are a budget-friendly necessity for pets traveling by air. They come in two sizes: Regular and X-Large. The Regular pads measure 22” x 22” and the X-Large measure 28” x 34”. These pads can be folded up to accommodate any size carrier.

Amazon Basic’s disposable potty pads come in packages of 30-, 50, 80-, or 120-count. That means even if your pet has more than one accident during his or her travels, you’ll have enough pads to deal with it. 

The carbon component of these pads is designed to help eliminate odor, keeping your pet fresh and clean until you arrive at your destination. The five layers of the pad create a leak-proof design, which will adhere to airline requirements for both in-cabin and cargo pet travel.

Bulldoglogy Carbon Tech Puppy Training Pads

If you need high quality disposable potty pads for your pet’s next trip, look no further than these Bulldoglogy Carbon Tech Puppy Training Pads. They measure 24” x 35” and have a unique adhesive bottom to prevent them from sliding around your pet’s carrier. 

The use of the adhesive is optional, so if you need to fold the pad to accommodate a smaller carrier, you can do so without worry. The carbon tech neutralizes odor, so your pet stays clean.

These pads feature six absorbent layers that immediately turn liquid into gel to eliminate the risk of leaks. The manufacturer estimates that these pads hold up to 9 cups of liquid each without leaking, so no matter what size dog you’re traveling with, you don’t need to worry about messes.

Bulldoglogy stands by their product and offers a 110% money back guarantee.

Paw Legend Waterproof Washable Training Pads

The Paw Legend Training Pads are perfect for travelers who need an absorbent pad for their pets, but prefer not to use disposable plastics. These pads are machine washable and come in three sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. The dimensions of the different sizes are as follows:

  • 18” x 24”
  • 30” x 32”
  • 41” x 41”

Each size comes in two color options as well: Gray or Brown and Tan. Each package comes with two pads and they can easily be folded up to fit in smaller kennels if necessary.

The bottoms of the Paw Legend potty pads are waterproof with a high-density absorbent inner layer and a soft, wicking top layer. The pads are designed to quickly absorb moisture to keep your pet clean and prevent the carrier from leaking.

Once the pads have been soiled, they can simply be tossed in the washing machine and reused again after laundering. 

Food and Water Bowls

Sleepypod Yummy Travel Bowl

The Sleepypod Yummy Travel Bowl features a unique design that allows you to securely store your pet’s food and water while traveling. It’s made from BPA-free, food-grade silicone and is freezer, dishwasher, and microwave safe.

The spill proof design keeps food and water separate while traveling so your pet can eat and drink in peace when you arrive at your destination. The water can also be frozen to help keep wet or raw food fresh during travel.

The Yummy water bowl storage capabilities are as follows:

  • Small - The water bowl holds up to 20 ounces, the food bowl holds up to 8.5 ounces, and the lid bowl holds up to 6.5 ounces. 
  • Medium - The water bowl holds up to 37 ounces, the food bowl holds up to 17 ounces, and the lid bowl can hold up to 11 ounces.

Another benefit of the Sleepypod Yummy Travel Bowl is that the rim of the lid bowl can be filled with water to help keep ants out of the bowl when used outdoors.

Kallak Zippy Collapsible Silicone Bowls

The Kallak Zippy features two collapsible silicone bowls that can easily be zipped up into a CD-sized cloth case. The case has a carabiner that can be used to attach it to your pet’s kennel or carrier. The Oxford cloth case also serves as a sturdy base, which helps prevent spills.

Each bowl can fit up to 4.5 cups, or 28 oz, of liquid. The bowls are made of food-grade, BPA-free silicone and feature a metal rim for stability. They attach to the case by velcro, but can be removed for cleaning.

The Kallak Zippy Bowls are ideal for air travel since they can be folded flat and zipped up to stay clean and out of the way until the next use. Most airlines ask that you offer your pet food and water prior to departure, and these bowls make it easy and mess-free.

Ruff Products BarkBowl

The Ruff Products BarkBowl is a collapsible silicone bowl available in five different colors including:

  • Black
  • Burnt Orange
  • Dark Teal
  • Maroon
  • Tiffany Blue

The food-grade silicone bowl is dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe. It features an aircraft grade aluminum carabiner so it can be conveniently attached to a pet carrier or luggage. The BarkBowl is also TSA compliant, so you won’t need to worry about getting it through security at the airport.

The BarkBowl can be folded up into a variety of configurations to suit different sizes of animals. When folded flat as for storage, it holds 2.5 ounces and is ideal for use with cats to prevent whisker fatigue. When expanded to the next two size configurations, it can hold enough water or food for a small- or medium-sized dog. Fully expanded, the BarkBowl holds up to 27 ounces of liquid.

Car Travel

When it comes to traveling by car with your pet, safety is your top priority. Accidents can happen and if dogs are not properly restrained, they can be seriously injured or escape. To prevent these types of tragedies, it’s important to keep your dog safe with a car safety harness.

It’s also important to make sure your pet is traveling comfortably without having to worry about stopping to clean up messes along the way. A car seat cover is ideal for reducing cleanup should your pet have an accident while traveling or become carsick. 

Car Travel Packing Checklist

  • Car safety harness
  • Collar and leash
  • Identification tags
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Health certificate if required
  • Photos of your pet
  • Car seat cover
  • Potty pads
  • Travel snacks
  • Food and water bowls
  • Food and water
  • Blanket, travel bed, or toy from home
  • First aid kit
  • Contact information for vets near your destination

Car Safety Harnesses

Sleepypod Clickit Car Harness

The Sleepypod Clickit Car Harness is one of the top rated safety harnesses on the market. It’s certified by the Center for Pet Safety for dogs between 18 and 90 pounds. It comes in a range of sizes and color options. It’s also functional as a walking harness.

This harness might be lightweight, but it’s not lacking in safety. It’s made with seat belt grade straps and stress tested buckles. The entire harness is padded for comfort and to evenly distribute weight in the case of a collision.

The three points of contact are designed to reduce forward and lateral movement if the car stops suddenly or gets into a collision. The Sleepypod Clickit is designed for use with your car’s back seat belt, so no other straps or accessories are required.

Ruffwear Load Up Car Harness

The Ruffwear Load Up Car Harness was rigorously tested at the MGA Research Corp to withstand a vehicle crash test. Though the harness only comes in one color, it does come in a range of sizes to suit most dogs.

The Load Up Harness is designed to keep your dog safe and secure during sudden stops or collisions. It’s made with strength-rated hardware and material so it can comfortably restrain your dog.

The Ruffwear Load Up Car Harness attaches directly to the car’s seat belt, so there’s no need for additional straps or equipment. This also means it’s suitable for use in any type of vehicle, so long as there is a seat belt.

The Load Up Harness is easy to put on any dog and can be adjusted to fit with little effort. It’s comfortable enough for dogs to wear on even the longest car trips and can be worn during bathroom breaks and rest stops.

Sherpa Car Safety Harness

The Sherpa Car Safety Harness was rigorously crash tested at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. It was designed and tested using child car seat standards of safety.

Available in four different sizes, this harness features five adjustment points so it can fit nearly any dog. The harness is recommended for use with dogs of any size or age.

The Sherpa Car Safety Harness features a wide chest plate to help comfortably distribute weight in the event of a sudden stop or collision. 

The included dog tether is designed for use with any type of car or seat belt system. The tether attaches directly to the car’s seat belt by carabiner. It can also be used as a lead during rest stops or bathroom breaks. 

The Sherpa Car Safety Harness is designed to be comfortably worn for hours at a time, so no matter how long your drive is, you can be sure your dog is traveling comfortably. The harness isn’t just for car trips, it can also be used every day during your pet’s daily walks.

Car Seat Covers

Kurgo Dog Seat Cover

The Kurgo Dog Seat Cover is water and stain resistant to help protect the interior of your car from dirt, dog hair, and more. It comes in two widths: 55” and 63”. This ensures that your car can be protected no matter what type of vehicle you travel in.

This seat cover is also available in a range of colors, including a blue quilted option. The blue quilted seat cover is made from microtomic ripstop fabric, but the other options are made of 600 denier polyester. The seat cover is meant to withstand the everyday wear and tear of traveling with dogs of any size.

The Kurgo Dog Seat Cover has hook and loop seat belt openings so it can be used with seat belt restraints for dogs. This also allows the cover to still be used for human passengers as well.

BarksBar Luxury Car Seat Cover

The BarksBar Luxury Car Seat Cover is a hammock-style seat protector made of heavy-duty, waterproof polyester. It comes in two different sizes:

  • Standard - 54” x 58”
  • X-Large - 60” x 64”

This seat cover comes with non-slip backing and seat anchors to ensure that it doesn’t move around, even if your dog does. It also features seat belt openings so you still have full use of the seat belts for dog harnesses or human passengers.

The fabric used in the BarksBar Seat Cover is considered color-fast, which means the dye won’t bleed, even when wet. The seat cover is machine washable and has been tested to withstand extreme temperatures.

The BarksBar Luxury Car Seat Cover can also be used as a bench-style seat cover if you’d prefer not to have it as a hammock. This can be accomplished by allowing the front edge of the cover to drape over the front of the seats, rather than being attached to the headrests in front.

4knines Dog Seat Cover

The 4knines Dog Seat Cover is a fitted bench-style seat cover designed for use in most vehicles. It measures 54” inches wide and comes in three color options: Black, Gray, and Tan.

This seat cover is made from durable and waterproof 600 denier polyester. The thick UV-coated straps and tough nylon clips mean this cover is built to last, no matter where you take your dog. There are no azo dyes or harsh chemicals, so you can travel without worrying about your car or your pet.

The 4knines Dog Seat Cover is made with a unique seven layer construction, which makes it completely waterproof except for the seams. It’s easy to clean and can be wiped down with a damp cloth or tossed in the washing machine.

Best Travel Gear

No doggie gear bag is complete without these essential items. No matter where you take your pet, it’s important to keep him comfortable and happy. These beds, snacks, and accessories will help keep him safe and happy until you reach your destination.

Beds

OneTigris Portable Dog Sleeping Mat

The OneTigris Portable Dog Sleeping Mat is a water resistant and durable travel bed for dogs on the go. It measures 43.3” x 26.8” when unrolled. When rolled up for travel, it measures a compact 12.9” x 6.3”. It weighs just 20 ounces, so it can easily go wherever you do.

This portable sleeping mat is made from durable Oxford fabric with polyester pongee lining. The stuffing is polyester cotton. In addition to being water resistant, the bed is also resistant to scratches and staining.

If the OneTigris Portable Dog Sleeping Mat gets dirty, it is machine washable, but can also be wiped down with a damp cloth if the mess is minor. It can be tumble or line dried, depending on what’s available at your destination.

ChuckIt! Travel Bed

The ChuckIt! Travel Bed is made of soft yet durable polysuede. It’s water-resistant and machine washable. The bed comes in one size and is suitable for pets of all sizes. It measures 30” x 39” and fits in a standard washing machine.

This bed comes in one color option: an attractive blue and gray design. It rolls up easily and can be transported in the included nylon stuff sack. The bed features a loop so that it can be air dried after washing or hung on a line.

The ChuckIt! Travel Bed to keep any pet comfortable while traveling. The polysuede top layer is designed for comfort, while the ripstop nylon bottom ensures your pet stays warm and dry without damaging the bed.

Max and Neo Travel Dog Bed

The Max and Neo Travel Dog Bed is a high-quality, portable bed for dogs of all sizes. It measures 30” x 39” and is suitable for all but the largest of dogs. The bed contains approximately 2” of fluffy polyester fill. It’s designed to be used while traveling, camping, or lounging at home or in a hotel.

This durable dog bed features a soft fleece side that’s perfect for keeping your pet warm on cooler days. The other side is made of a smooth yet tough nylon that will help your pet stay cool during hot weather.

As an added bonus, for every Max and Neo Travel Dog Bed purchased, one is donated to a dog in rescue. Beds are donated to rescue organizations across the country.

Snacks

Bully Sticks

Bully Sticks are a great travel snack because they’re long lasting and relatively healthy, as long as you choose the appropriate size for your pet. Bully Sticks are all natural and since they only contain a single ingredient, they’re ideal for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

Bully Sticks come in a range of different lengths and thicknesses to suit dogs of all sizes and ages. Thin Bully Sticks are best for older dogs, young puppies, or dogs with health problems that limit their chewing ability. Thick or braided Bully Sticks are ideal for heavy chewers.

Odor-free Bully Sticks in particular are great for travel as they keep your dog busy for hours at a time without forcing you or your fellow passengers to smell the sometimes unpleasant odor associated with this type of treat.

Sweet Potato Chews

Sweet Potato Chews are another great, long-lasting chew for dogs on the go. They’re made from a single ingredient so they’re perfect for dogs with special dietary needs. They also contain fewer calories than bully sticks, making them an excellent choice for dogs on a diet.

Sweet Potato Chews are a healthy treat for dogs of all ages and sizes. They’re grain-free, fat-free, and have no added sugar. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

Another great benefit of traveling with Sweet Potato Chews is their portability. They’re lightweight and can fit in any doggie gear bag or carrier pocket. Sweet potatoes are also odor-free, so you don’t have to worry about offending your fellow passengers.

LegitPet Calming Hemp Treats

LegitPet Calming Hemp Treats are formulated to reduce your pet’s anxiety without the need for sedation. Most veterinary professionals advise against sedation while traveling, but these calming treats contain natural ingredients to calm dogs of all ages and sizes.

LegitPet Calming Treats contain hemp, valerian root, and chamomile to help your dog travel stress-free. They are available in a tasty duck-flavored soft chew and contain no fillers such as corn, wheat, soy, or dairy.

If you’re looking for a natural calming supplement to help put your pet at ease while you travel without the risk associated with sedation, LegitPet Calming Hemp Treats are the answer. These high-quality treats are made in the USA and each batch is tested to ensure you’re getting the best product possible.

Accessories

Petmate Kennel Travel Kit

The Petmate Kennel Travel Kit was specially designed for pets traveling by air. The kit contains the following air travel specific items:

  • Absorbent Pee Pad
  • Two “Live Animal” Stickers
  • Temporary Pet ID Tag
  • Spill Resistant Food/Water Bowls
  • 12 Zip Ties
  • Metal Kennel Assembly Hardware

The items in this kit are intended to prepare any airline-approved kennel compliant with most airlines’ pet travel regulations. The metal assembly hardware is included to upgrade kennels so that they’re durable enough to withstand air travel.

AKC Pet First Aid Kit

The AKC Pet First Aid Kit is a 46-piece pet first aid kit that contains everything you need to administer first aid to your pet should an injury occur while traveling. 

While the kit contains 46 first aid items, it has extra room in the included travel bag so that the kit can be customized to suit your pet’s individual needs. If your pet requires medication or is at risk of certain injuries, extra items can be added as needed.

The AKC Pet First Aid Kit measures 11.5” x 8” x 2.5”. It’s small enough to fit into most luggage and can easily be stored in a car. This first aid kit is an essential item when traveling with pets. Although every traveler hopes to reach their destination safe and sound, it’s best to be prepared.

Pet Friendly Accommodations

When traveling with your pet, it’s important to research pet friendly accommodations before you leave. Many hotels do not allow pets, while others may charge a fee or have limits on the number of pets or their weight. Even pet-friendly hotels may not always have rooms available for guests with pets, so it’s important to call ahead.

Though there are plenty of pet-friendly hotels across the country, here are some of the top hotel chains that allow pets:

  • Best Western
  • Choice Hotels
  • DoubleTree by Hilton
  • Extended Stay America
  • Four Seasons
  • Hampton Inn
  • Home2Suites by Hilton
  • Kimpton Hotels
  • Marriott
  • Motel 6
  • Peninsula Hotels
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Staypineapple
  • Westin

Again, not all individual locations are pet-friendly, but most of the hotels listed here will allow pets. 

If you’d prefer a homier place to stay, you might also consider searching for accommodations on Airbnb or Vrbo. These websites give you the options of temporarily renting a room in someone’s home, or the entire house or apartment for your desired time period. Many, but not all, accommodations listed are pet friendly.

Staying in a new place can be stressful for pets, especially if they don’t travel frequently. It can be helpful to bring a few familiar items from home to put your pet at ease, such as a blanket or chew toy. This way, the familiar scent of home will help them cope with their new surroundings and allow you both to get enough rest.

As a guest, it’s important to respect pet-friendly accommodations so that they can continue to offer this service to fellow pet owners. Always clean up after your pet and be respectful of other guests. Allowing your dog to bark through the night or run off-leash through the hallways is not appropriate and may result in more hotels banning pets.

Many pet-friendly accommodations provide pet waste bags in their relief areas, but it’s always a good idea to have your own just in case. You may also consider bringing disposable or reusable potty pads into your room to prevent hotel staff from having to clean up after your pet.

Travel Safety

One of the most important aspects of traveling safely with your pet is to make sure he or she always has proper identification. Whether this is a collar, tag, or microchip, it’s a crucial part of making sure your pet can be returned to you if you become separated.

As previously mentioned, thoroughly preparing your pet for travel will also help to ensure you both arrive safely at your destination. An animal who is comfortable in their carrier or kennel is less likely to panic or try to escape than one who hasn’t been prepared.

It may also be helpful to look up emergency veterinary clinics along your route or near your destination so that you know where to go should an emergency occur. Having a first aid kit on hand will also be helpful for minor illnesses and injuries.

Remember to bring along copies of your pet’s medical records, including his or her vaccination history. Should your pet need veterinary care while traveling, having records on hand will allow the veterinarian to give the best possible care despite not being familiar with your pet. 

COVID-19 Precautions

Although pets have tested positive for COVID-19, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted to humans from pets. This means, you don’t need to worry about your pet contracting the virus during your travels.

However, it’s still important to follow CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety precautions. Wherever you travel with your pet, be sure to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Do not touch your face with unwashed hands
  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose when around other people
    • Remember, your mask protects others and their masks protect you
  • Keep a safe distance from others (at least 6 feet), especially when other precautions are not available
  • Sanitize and disinfect frequently touched objects often - this includes phones, car doors, steering wheels, leashes, etc.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces when possible
  • Be alert for symptoms and check your temperature if you suspect infection

You should also be sure to keep potentially toxic products like hand sanitizer out of your pet’s reach. Masks and latex gloves should also be kept away from pets who have a tendency to chew or swallow objects.

Important Travel Notices

  • Delta Cargo has embargoed all pet travel beginning April 1, 2020 until further notice. This includes all pets traveling in cargo on both domestic and international flights. 
  • American Airlines has stopped carrying checked pets until further notice with the exception of pets belonging to active US Military who are traveling on assignment. Pets may still be transported via American Airlines Cargo if they are too big to travel in-cabin.
  • United Airlines has suspended their PetSafe Program for pets traveling in cargo until further notice
    • This suspension also affects all military pet transportation

 

Pets are part of our families, so it’s no wonder that so many travelers choose to bring their furry family members along with them. Whether you’re traveling by air or by car, always make sure to prioritize your pet’s safety and comfort.

As with any aspect of pet ownership, the more prepared and informed you are, the better your travel experience will be. It will make the trip more pleasurable for you and your pet, and you’ll arrive in a calmer state of mind. Remember, our pets know when we’re nervous, so take a deep breath and enjoy traveling with your best friend!

 

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