An adventure with your four-legged friend can be wonderful, but the planning stage can be challenging. Although you have a lot to think about when planning to travel with your pet, your most important responsibility is to ensure their safety and contentment. To calm your travel planning nerves, read our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital professionals’ six top tips for your pet’s travel safety.

#1: Clear your pet for travel with a veterinary examination

Your pet’s undiagnosed illness signs can quickly become apparent when brought on by their travel anxiety. But, if you know your pet has a diagnosed chronic illness, you should ensure their condition is well-controlled before leaving home. So, before traveling with your pet, schedule a physical examination with their Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital veterinarian to ensure they are in tip-top shape and ready to hit the road.

In addition, our veterinarians can provide your pet’s required health certificates and other paperwork that is required for them to travel out of your home state or country. Always double-check your destination’s requirements to avoid having to scramble at the last minute to obtain your pet’s required vaccinations, health screening tests, or health certificates.

#2: Secure pet-friendly lodging

Ensure all your accommodations are pet-friendly—whether a one-night stay while traveling or a weeklong stay at your destination. A lodging’s pet policies can change, so although you may have stayed at the same accommodation before, confirm that their current pet policies are the same. You do not want to be taken by surprise and learn on arrival that the lodging no longer accepts your pet’s breed or size.

#3: Choose your pet’s best travel mode

Determine your pet’s preferred travel mode. Some pets become nauseous and agitated in a car’s small confines, and may do better flying. Other pets need to stretch their legs every few hours, and prefer a road trip. If you are not in a hurry to reach your destination, a leisurely drive with your pet may be the best way to go, so you can both stop along the way to stretch, walk, and take in the sights. If your pet does well on a plane and you have a long distance to travel, flying may be the best option.

#4: Acclimate your pet to their travel gear

When traveling, your pet may need a crate specifically designed for airline travel, a safety harness that clips to a seat belt, or a carrier that fits in your car. Ensure your pet has room to stand up, lie down, and turn around in their crate, and verify that their safety harness does not chafe or inhibit their range of motion. Your pet may be frightened by these unfamiliar items, so spend some pretrip time acclimating them to their new travel gear. Use positive reinforcement—treats and praise—to encourage your pet to practice getting in and out of a new crate, being strapped in their harness, and taking a ride around the block. 

#5: Pack your pet’s essentials

Make a list of your pet’s necessities, and check off each item as you pack. If you arrive at your destination ready to relax, but realize you forgot to pack some of your pet’s essential items, your vacation may be less enjoyable. Ensure you include your pet’s:

  • Food and treats
  • Bowls
  • Bedding
  • Toys
  • Leash with collar or harness
  • Waste bags
  • Disposable litter boxes
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Prescription medications, including parasite prevention
  • First aid kit

Always pack more of each item—especially medication and special food—than you think you will need. You never know when you may have to extend your time away from home.

#6: Update your pet’s identification

The best travel plans include a strategy for you and your pet’s separation. Before traveling with your pet, check their collar identification tags to ensure the inscription is legible and the information is correct. In addition, contact your microchip registration company to ensure your contact information is up to date, especially your phone number. To ensure a quick and happy reunion if you and your pet become separated, double-check that all forms of your pet’s identification are up to date with your correct contact information. 

If you plan to travel with your pet, they may need an up-to-date health certificate or vaccination record. As soon as you begin your travel planning, schedule your pet’s wellness appointment with our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team so we can ensure your four-legged, furry sidekick is healthy enough to tag along with you, and you have the written proof.