Do you enjoy vacationing with your pets? Or have you had to leave home in an emergency and take your animals with you? We often think about how to keep our furry friends safe at home. But it is just as important to consider safe ways to transport them for travel, extended time away, or weather-related evacuations and emergencies.

The first step in safely conveying your pets is to prepare an emergency kit of items they may need while you are both away. These include leashes or carriers for transporting them, food and water (including bowls), medications, a first aid kit and pictures and info about your pet in waterproof bags. You can also speak with your veterinarian about obtaining any additional prescriptions to help your animals stay calm once the trip is underway.

Whether you are travelling with your pet by car or plane, the key is to anticipate their needs and plan ahead, according to these tips from the American Red Cross.

Traveling by Car

Some pets love traveling in the car. Others may associate it with something unpleasant, like a trip to the boarding kennel or (dare we say it) the vet! Still, you want them to be safe, and the following guidelines will help you and your pet reach your destination without harm.

  • Keep your pet in a carrier in the car. Your dog can also use a harness that attaches to a seatbelt or a sturdy pet barrier that will not collapse during the ride.
  • Make regular stops for them to relieve themselves and stretch their legs.
  • Keep your pets in the back of the car, not in your passenger seat.
  • Keep windows shut or only minimally cracked to prevent injury.
  • Make sure that your animal is safe in a crate or on a leash before letting them exit the vehicle.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in the vehicle!

Flying the Friendly Skies

A friend of mine recently flew with her cat from Virginia to Colorado. She found this process was much more involved than placing the cat in a carrier and heading to the airport. First, she checked with the airline to make her cat carrier certain was approved for travel. Then she added the cat to her airline ticket, per airline regulations. Then there was a visit to the vet to pick up anti-anxiety medications for the travel.

Even with all her preparation, it was only at the last minute that she thought to grab a leash for her cat—just in case. It came in handy when security asked her to remove her cat from the carrier so they could walk through the metal detector together!

To avoid any surprises, this advice will come in handy when taking off with your pet.

  • Before booking your flight, check airline guidelines and regulations about transporting your pet.
  • Airlines will usually allow you to travel with pets if they are small enough. Double check these rules. And make sure you have proper restraints or a crate for your animal both in the airport and on the plane.
  • While less ideal, sometimes larger animals can fly in the cargo/luggage area of the plane. If this is the case, make sure you are on the same flight as your pet and make it a direct flight. In addition, notify your flight attendants about your pet’s location. You can also request they check the temperature in the cargo area if your plane must taxi for an extended time. Temperatures can change while taxiing; make sure it is within the range of 45-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Travelling with your pet can be stressful, but you can make the trip easier by anticipating their needs and planning ahead. My friend and her cat? They made it safely to their destination, and you and your pets can too!