Traveling with your pet isn't easy. If your dog or cat is old, sick or doesn't handle traveling well, consider leaving him or her at a pet hotel or with a pet sitter. If you do choose to bring your pet along on a trip, consider following these travel safety tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Consider whether traveling is safe for your pet.
Before bringing pets along on long holiday trips, consider whether or not they will be up for the task. If your pet is old, sick or doesn't handle traveling well, consider leaving it at a pet hotel, a boarding facility or with a pet sitter.
Update proper ID tags for your pet.
Whether you're traveling by car, train or plane, make sure your dog or cat has proper identification tags on at all times. Pet tags should have up-to-date information, including name, address and vaccinations.
Bring your pet's current medications.
Don't forget to bring along your pet's current medications, including any preventatives such as heartworm, flea and tick prescriptions.
Make a list of vets in the area you'll visit.
Before traveling, prepare a list of veterinarians and 24-hour emergency pet hospitals near the area where you'll be staying. Having this information will prove beneficial in case of an emergency.
Don't use tranquilizers before a flight.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, you shouldn't give your pet tranquilizers when traveling by air -- it can increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems while flying. Short-nosed dogs and cats are more prone to respiratory problems while traveling.
Bring water from home.
Bring along bottled or tap water from home while traveling. Drinking water from an area that your pet is not used to might result in an upset stomach.
Keep pets restrained in the car.
When traveling by car, always keep cats in crates or barriers and be sure to secure the barrier with a seatbelt. Most cats aren't used to traveling in the car and won't take kindly to not being restrained. Keep dogs in crates, travel-safe beds or harnesses, and never allow them to ride with their heads outside of the window. Doing so can allow debris to enter their eyes, ears and nose, causing infections.
Consider having your pet microchipped.
Consider having a microchip implanted before traveling. Microchips improve the chances of finding your pet again if it happens to become lost along the way. If your pet already has a microchip, make sure it's programmed with the most recent contact information, including a cellphone number, before the trip.
Help your pet get used to the crate.
While traveling, your pet will spend more time inside of a crate than it might be used to. Have your pet spend some time in the crate in the days before your trip to get it accustomed to being inside.
Limit meals before long trips.
Limit meals before long trips, including flights. Pets should travel on nearly empty stomachs to avoid accidents and prevent upset stomachs.
Board the plane last, if possible.
When traveling by plane, wait until last to board if your dog or cat will be stored in a cabin. Doing so will reduce the amount of time that your pet will stay alone.
Obtain a health certificate.
If you're crossing state lines, you'll need a current Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate). The form needs to be filled out by a veterinarian within 10 days of travel.
Find a pet-friendly hotel.
Check with your hotel before traveling, as some hotels only accept small breeds or dogs under a certain weight limit. If you choose to leave your pet in a hotel room, minimize the amount of time it'll spend in the room unattended. When you do leave the hotel, inform the front desk that your pet is in the room alone and leave a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door. When informing the front desk, let them know how to contact you in case of an emergency.
Make frequent stops during car trips.
If you are bringing your dog along on long car trips, make sure to stop at least once every two hours for bathroom and exercise breaks.
Never leave pets alone in the car.
Don't leave your pet alone in the car. Making even a quick stop can be hazardous if you leave your pet inside alone. Have someone stay behind with it at all times.