Paws on board: handy tips for traveling with pets

Whether it’s Fido’s first time or if he’s a bone-a fide travel expert, traveling with your pet requires a bit of preparation. Below we outline the do’s and don’ts of pet travel so you’ll be able to focus on having a great holiday with your best friend.

Can I see some ID?

Get your pet passport updated before travelling

Get your pet passport updated before travelling

Animals traveling to foreign countries need documents too. A pet passport is required throughout the countries abiding to the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). The passport contains information about the animal’s vaccines, its identification and microchip number, and a veterinarian’s signature for approval. As the PETS isn’t standardized yet, research your departure and arrival countries’ animal travel policies and quarantine policy to double check your pet will be accepted.

With our beloved pets, it’s not impossible that the worst could happen, especially if your animal likes to roam outdoors. Temporary identification tags with the number and the name of the place you’re staying over holiday can make finding your pet a lot easier if it disappears.

Stop by the vet for a pre-holiday check-up

Before traveling, stop by your vet’s office to check your pet’s health and to ensure their vaccines are up-to-date. Make sure to check with ample time in advance – some vaccines require the vaccination be done three weeks prior to travelling to ensure their efficiency. The veterinarian will sign off that everything is good-to-go in the pet’s passport.

Fluffy should be drug-free

Does your pet get nervous when travelling? Try the Thundershirt to naturally calm him down

Does your pet get nervous when travelling? Try the ThunderShirt to naturally calm him down

If your pet has a tendency to get nervous during travel, you may already have calming drug solutions from your veterinarian. However, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recommends your pet be drug-free to avoid complications with breathing or balance during the flight. Try calming them down with natural solutions like homeopathic tablets or a relaxing lavender essential oil massage. A good idea is to tire out your pet before a trip so they might just sleep through it.

If your cat or dog is generally anxious, travelling can be a very stressful event. Solutions like wearing a ThunderShirt, with its calming pressure applied to the pet’s torso, could alleviate the traveling jitters.

If you’re flying with your pet

Small enough to fly in the cabin? Check with your airline before-hand

Small enough to fly in the cabin? Check with your airline before-hand

You’ll just have to book a special ticket for your pet. Airlines may have different policies and prices concerning animal travel. For your pet to travel with you in the cabin, it must weigh no more than eight kilos (weight regulations may vary according to airline policy), and its IATA approved transport case must fit under the seat in front of you. However tempting it might be, your pet cannot leave its transport case during the flight. A pet weighing over eight kilos will be transported in the hold. It might seem scary down there, but the crew knows that an animal is on board so they leave light, ventilation, or heat on for your pet.

All this information and more is available on your airline’s webpage, like KLM Sky Team, United Airlines, or Cathay Pacific. No matter who you’re traveling with, arrive at the check-in counter three hours prior to departure to give you and your pet ample time for boarding.

Pet travel services dedicated solely to pet travel, like PetAir UK, help you organize your pet’s transportation offering more comfort for them and less stress for you.

If you’re traveling by car

Buckle-up! Even your pet should have a seat belt or car harness

Buckle-up! Even your pet should have a seat belt or car harness

Animals roaming around a car can cause dangerous distractions. Special hammock seat protectors with a barrier to keep your pet away from the front seat are available to keep everyone safe during the trip. Dog harnesses for the car offer safety while freeing-up some space on the back seats as well. Stop by a pet store near you to find the one that suits your vehicle.

During long drives, take a break every two or three hours to let your pet do their duty. Fresh air and movement will give you both a chance to stretch your legs before hitting the road again.

Book a room in a pet-friendly hotel

Rest those tired paws in a pet-friendly hotel

Rest those tired paws in a pet-friendly hotel

It may seem obvious, but the choice of your hotel will depend on if they accept pets or not. Some hotels even offer extra pet-friendly services: from bunnies to beagles, animals of all types staying at the Bristol Vienna will be offered the royal treatment with special bedding and treats. The London hotel, Rubens at the Palace, even has a pet-friendly menu with sausages or tuna for breakfasting like a king.

Read more: Fancy a night in the pet-friendly dog-shaped Dog Bark Park Inn?

Don’t forget the water, toys, and extra food

Just like you might travel with your good luck charms, animals find comfort in having something familiar with them. A blanket or a favorite stuffed animal could help them feel relaxed and keep them busy during the trip.

Don’t wait until you arrive at your final destination to buy your pet’s foods – you might risk not finding the right brand or type. But travelling with a few kilos of food might not be possible either. A good idea is to stock up on enough food for a few days and contact a local vet to see if your brand is available there. And throw in some extra water for long car trips – your pet might not ask for water directly, but be sure to hydrate them regularly.

Now that you and your four-legged friend are ready to hit the road – or reach for the skies – why not book a flight or hire a car.

Looking for more travel inspiration? Explore the great outdoors with your four-legged friend in Rio de Janeiro’s nature spots or ride windows down for a road-trip around Tuscany