Summer Safety: Traveling with pets

Now that the kids have finished up with school, it’s the perfect time for that family vacation you’ve been planning for all year. The bags are all packed. The only thing left to do besides lock up the house is figure out what to do with the four-legged kiddos. There are several options, of course, all of which need to be planned just as much as the rest of the vacation.

The easiest option for most dogs would be to board Dogs in a play yardat a boarding facility or doggy day care. These facilities are well equipped for dogs of any size. They have a variety of kennel sizes, will feed your pup at the appropriate times and make time for walks multiple times a day. Many places even have large play yards that allow for extended play times to burn off excess energy. For pets with special needs, a vet hospital that offers boarding is probably best, that way a doctor is on hand to provide care if needed. Any medications should be labeled with the name, dosage and times to be given, versus just putting them in a pill dosage box. This way more medication can be filled or adjusted if needed. It is important to make your reservation far in advance to reserve a spot. You should also ask about exact vaccine requirements to ensure your pet has everything required prior to arrival. While many cats do okay boarding, I personally feel that they do best in their own home. If you are only going to be gone for a short trip, try to find a family member or close friend willing to come to your home for daily feeding and litter box changes.

Dog in a travel crateIf a road trip is in the future, sometimes leaving the pets behind is not an option. Things to consider are making sure that everyone is up to date on vaccines. Call ahead to wherever you may be staying to be sure pets are welcome. It is also a good idea to know where full service and emergency vets are located. Be sure you have twice as much medication as needed, plus heartworm and flea prevention. I like to keep a current vaccine record in my glove compartment (we do evacuate a lot), as well as recent medical records. Free reign of the car is a definite safety hazard. Just like car seats and seat belts are safety requirements for our children, crates and seat belt attachments to keep pets confined are a must for car rides. It minimizes the risk of driver distraction as well as general safety for the pet.

Airline travel probably has the widest range of preparation. Every airline has their own guidelines for pet travel, so I urge you to contact them directly as soon as you know you travel plans. Some require a Health Certificate, which can only be issued by a USDA accredited veterinarian, and are only good for 10 days from the date of issue. If you are planning an international trip, I encourage you to contact your veterinarian with your plans as soon as you make them. Many countries have a long list of requirements, including multiple office visits and blood tests, that must be submitted within a certain time frame. It is important that all your paperwork is submitted to the regional USDA office correctly and on time, to avoid quarantine or possibly being denied entry upon arrival.


If you are still in the planning phase of your trip, and on the fence about what to do, be sure to talk to your vet about the best options for your pet. We would also be more than happy to discuss any of these travel options with you. Feel free to contact us at the Louisiana SPCA Community Clinic at 504.363.1333, or