Pet Travel Tips: Healthy Pet/Happy Pet 7

Article Series for Dunes Living Magazine

From: Dr. Amanda Thomas

I know how happy everyone must be that summer in Myrtle Beach has arrived and the wet, soggy weather is finally behind us!!!

Summer plans for many of you will include traveling with your pets, so in this issue, I will offer up some good tips on how to travel safely and wisely with your four-legged family members.

Take time to prepare for traveling with your dog or cat, considering how the car or airplane ride will be made with a minimal amount of stress – for you and your animal. Start by making an appointment with your veterinarian to be sure your pet is up to date on his/her vaccinations and is healthy enough for what you have in mind. Your pet will need Heartworm and parasite protection, a supply of any medications they are currently taking, and possibly a prescription for car sickness or anxiety. If you have a senior or geriatric pet, consider allowing them to stay at home with the care of a pet-sitter, rather than running the risk of any unexpected health problems while you are on vacation, or in an unfamiliar location.

If traveling by car, you want to ensure that your pet is safe, in a secured crate that won’t slide around inside the car and is big enough for them to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. Cats should travel in a well-ventilated carrier in the car at all times. It’s best if your pet is already accustomed to the travel crate or carrier from use at home. Wipe or spray your cat’s carrier with a feline pheromone like Feli-way to help give your kitty a sense of calm and security.

You will need to pay particular attention to summer temperatures, knowing that cars can turn into furnaces….. reaching 100-120 degree temperatures in no time and putting your pets at risk for heat stroke and death.

In most states, it is not legal to leave your pet alone in an automobile, which means you won’t be stopping for a sit-down meal on your road trip.

Bring water and treats for your animal, soft bedding, enough of their normal food to last the entire trip, leashes and collars, paper towels, and poop baggies. Try to keep your pets on their normal feeding schedule, but avoid feeding them in a moving car. Allow plenty of time each day for frequent bathroom breaks. There are many rest stops and truck stops that now have wonderful accommodations for dogs!

Car safety seats, first aid kits, harnesses, and travel ID tags geared toward pet safety have made the travel experience for pet lovers much more enjoyable in recent years.

Be sure your pet has an I.D. tag on their collar, a permanent Microchip I.D., and a crate or carrier that is clearly labeled with a contact person’s phone number, as well as their home and destination information. Take copies of your pet’s vaccination records with you.

It’s also a very good idea to identify veterinary clinics and emergency hospitals along your route in case your pet needs unanticipated veterinary care.

Finding hotels along the way that accept pets is fairly easy now that most hotels understand how many people travel with their animals.

Look online at or to find your accommodations. There are also “Pet Travel Clubs” like These clubs offer directories of hotels, lodgings that allow pets, listings of veterinary hospitals, and boarding facilities, and provide information on airline rules and regulations for traveling with your pets.

Should you be traveling by plane, be sure you have a Health Certificate (with you at all times) that has been filled out and issued by your veterinarian within 10 days of your date of travel. Depending upon the airline, some companies will also require that you have a signed letter from your veterinarian verifying that your pet is healthy enough for airline travel. Your vet’s office is well versed on interstate and international travel requirements, whether you are traveling by road or by air, so please call them before you find yourself at the airport without appropriate documents.

This usually causes some unnecessary stress.

Usually, dogs are easier to travel by car and cats are easier to travel by plane. Try to make it as simple as possible by being prepared. There will always be unanticipated challenges, but if you have done some preparations in advance, you will be able to handle them.

Be safe and have fun with your pets this summer — and remember to call on your vet’s office if you need assistance with any of your pet’s needs!!