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The Humane Society of the United States Offers Summer Travel Tips

As summer vacation season kicks into full gear, The Humane Society of the United States reminds you to think ahead about your pets when making travel plans. Summer is a great time to vacation with the whole family, but while some vacation spots may seem perfect for pets, sometimes it is best to leave pets in the comforts of home. The HSUS recommends that you do not transport your pet by air unless absolutely necessary.

“The Humane Society of the United States encourages everyone to consider their pets’ needs carefully before departure day arrives,” said KC Theisen, director of pet care issues at The HSUS. “Summer heat can make traveling with pets more difficult, and some pets are stressed by travel. Consider driving instead of flying, or asking a trusted caregiver to watch your pets. For many pets, a ‘stay-cation’ is best.”

Visible ID is life insurance for your pets:

  • To avoid losing your pets, make sure that their ID tags and microchip information are current, and that their collar is secure.
  • When traveling with your pet, attach temporary tags with contact information for your mobile phone, as well as a phone number for where you are staying.
  • Make sure the collar and tags cannot get tangled in the carrier mesh or door.

Preparing for travel:

  • Make travel easier by practicing with your pet’s accessories before you leave. Whether driving or flying, introduce the leash, carrier and other new items well in advance, using lots of praise and treats. Practice putting the harness and leash on at home and walk around a bit. This can reduce anxiety and make travel day much less stressful for both pets and their people.
  • Know the contact information for a local veterinarian at your destination, in case of emergency. Be sure that you bring along a copy of your pet’s health records, and pack extra amounts of any medication they take in case your return home is delayed.

Avoid air travel with your pets:

  • Air travel can be very dangerous for pets, especially in summer heat. We recommend that any pets traveling with you by air always travel in the airplane cabin with you or a trusted caregiver.
  • The HSUS strongly cautions against cargo travel for animals. For pets too large to fly in the cabin, we recommend finding another mode of transportation. Cargo space in an airplane and the process for managing cargo is not designed for living beings, and many pets are lost or injured during air travel. Major airlines must report on their performance: consult the Department of Transportation’s airline pet transport records - found in the monthly Air Travel Comsumer Report.
  • Look up all regulations for each specific airline in advance to make sure you’re prepared with health certification, vaccination and other supplies needed to ensure you meet airline protocols. Plan carefully ahead to avoid stressing your pet and yourself.
  • Plan ahead to allow your pet time between feedings, to prevent messes during travel. Bring supplies just in case. And always make sure the flight crew is aware you are bringing your pet onboard with you.

Taking your pet on a road trip

  • Keep your dog secured safely inside moving cars, preferably in the back seat with a safety harness, whenever you travel. Letting your dog travel with his or her head outside the open car window may seem fun but can be dangerous—flying particles and debris can cause eye damage, and some pets have actually fallen out of moving vehicles. Dogs should never ride unsecured in the back of pickup trucks, regardless of how slow you are moving.
  • Because most cats are not as comfortable traveling in cars, for their own safety as well as yours, it is best to keep them in a carrier. Secure the carrier by buckling a seat belt around the front of it so it won’t slide or fall. Covering the carrier with a towel or sheet can go a long way to reduce stress, but make sure to allow fresh air in.
  • Stop frequently to allow your pet to exercise and eliminate. Never permit your pet to leave the car without a collar, ID tag and leash.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. On warm days, the temperature in your car can rise to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with the windows opened slightly. Furthermore, an animal left alone in a car is an invitation to pet thieves.

It might be best to board your pet or hire a reputable pet sitter instead of taking your pet with you on vacation.