If pet owners have already committed to transporting their pets on
commercial airlines this holiday season, the ASPCA is offering the following
Make an appointment with your pet's veterinarian for a checkup and make sure all
vaccinations are up-to-date. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian
within 10 days of departure.
- Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and an identification tag.
Breakaway collars are best for cats. The collar should also include
destination information in case your pet escapes.
- Book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the likelihood
of your pet being left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or
mishandling by baggage personnel.
- Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that is large enough for your pet
to stand, sit and change position in comfortably. Shipping crates can
be purchased from many pet supply stores and airlines.
- Write the words "Live Animal" in letters at least one inch tall
on the top of the crate and on at least one side. Use arrows to prominently
show the upright position of the crate.
- On the top of the crate, write the name, address and telephone number of
your pet's destination point, whether you are traveling with them or someone
else is picking up the animal.
- Affix a photograph of your pet to the top of the crate for identification
purposes if the animal should escape from the carrier. Also carry a
photograph of your pet.
- Line the crate bottom with some type of bedding - shredded paper or towels
- to absorb accidents.
- Freeze water provided for your pet so that it will not spill during
loading, and will melt by the time the animal is thirsty. Tape a small pouch
(preferably made of cloth) of dried food outside the crate. This enables
airline personnel to feed your pet in case it gets hungry on long-distance
flights or a layover.
- Do not lock the door of the crate. Make sure it is securely closed, but
not locked, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency.
- Tranquilizing your pet is not generally recommended as it could hamper
their breathing. Check with your veterinarian first.
Tell every airline employee you encounter, on the ground and in the air, that
you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold so that any additional
considerations or attention can be provided. If the plane is delayed, or
you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline
personnel check the animal when feasible. In certain situations removing the
animal from the cargo hold and deplaneing may be warranted.
If you are planning a road trip, driving with a pet usually involves more
than putting the animal in a car and driving off, especially if you will be
driving long distances or will be away for a long time. The ASPCA offers the
following tips to help you prepare for a safe and smooth car trip.
- Acclimate your pet for a long trip by taking him or her on a series of
short drives first, gradually lengthening time spent in the car.
- Start your pet on a travel-feeding schedule with a light meal of kibble
two to three hours prior to departure. Never feed your pet in a moving
- In addition to travel papers, food, bowls, leashes, a waste scoop, plastic
bags, grooming supplies, medication and a pet first aid kit, pack a favorite
toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity.
- Make sure your dog has a flat (never a choke) collar with an ID tag
imprinted with home address, as well as a temporary travel tag with your
cell phone and a destination phone number (and any other relevant contact
- Harness, rather than leash, your dog inside the car. For smaller
animals, a well-ventilated crate is recommended.
- Don't allow pets to ride with their heads outside the window as it
subjects them to flying objects, inner ear damage and lung infections.
- If you travel frequently with your pet, consider cargo-area pet barriers,
waterproof seat covers or rubberized floor liners sold by auto product