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Traveling With Your Pet

When vacation time rolls around, more and more pet owners refuse to leave their furry friends at home. Taking your pet with you requires a lot of preparation. Contributor Debbye Turner, who also is a veterinarian, visits The Saturday Early Show with some of the "do's and don't's" of pet travel. She also shows some of the latest items you can bring with you to make your pet's journey a safe and comfortable one.

Keep in mind that some animals are not suited for travel because of temperament, illness or physical impairment. If you have any doubts about whether it is appropriate for your pet to travel, talk to your veterinarian before travel.


You should really think of using airlines to transport your pets as a last option.

The guidelines for air travel are pretty much standard from airline to airline. Dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old and must have been weaned before traveling by air. Airlines generally require health certificates for all animals transported by air. In most cases, health certificates must be issued by a vet who has examined the animal within 10 days prior to transport.


  • DO try to take your pet on board with you. If you must transport your pet by air, your first decision is whether you can take him or her on board with you, which is by far the best option. If your pet is a cat or small dog, most airlines will allow you to take the animal on board for an additional fee; most airlines charge $75.
  • DO try to use direct flights. You will avoid the mistakes that occur during airline transfers and possible delays in getting your pet off the plane. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded and unloaded into the cargo hold.
  • DO notify the captain and flight attendant that your pet's on board. If the captain knows that pets are on board in the cargo hold, he or she may take special precautions.
  • DO fit your pet with a sturdy collar and two tags. Fit your pet with a collar that can't get caught in carrier doors. Affix two pieces of ID on the collar: a permanent ID with your name and home address and telephone number, and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached.
  • DON'T ship pug-nosed dogs or cats such a Pekingese, chow chows and Persians in the cargo hold. These breeds have short nasal passages that leave them vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke in cargo holds.
  • DON'T give your pet tranquilizers unless they are prescribed by a vet.
  • DON'T feed your pet for four to six hours prior to air travel. Small amounts of water can be given before the trip. If possible, put ice cubes in the water tray attached to the inside of your pet's kennel.
  • DON'T fly with your pet during busy travel times such as holidays and the summer and winter. Your pet is more likely to undergo rough handling during hectic travel periods.

This is the most common way to travel with pets. And whether traveling by car or by plane, Debbye Turner says the most important thing for your pet is the proper carrier.

  • BUY A PROPER PET CARRIER. Your pet's carrier should be durable and smooth-edged with opaque sides, a grille door, and several ventilation holes. Choose a carrier with a secure door and door latch. Select a carrier that has enough room to permit your animal to sit and lie down.

    You can make the carrier more comfortable by lining the interior with shredded newspaper or a towel. It's also probably a good idea, several days prior to travel, to get your pet used to the kennel. Keep it open and on the floor where they can be around it. Put one of their favorite toys inside; just let them get used to it being there.

  • AGAIN, GET STURDY ID TAGS. The tags should have both your permanent address and telephone number and an address and telephone number where you or a contact can be reached during your travels.
  • DON'T FEED JUST BEFORE TRAVEL. Feed your pet two or three hours prior to traveling by car. Traveling can upset your pet's stomach. Take along ice cubes, which are easier on your pet than large amounts of water.
  • DON'T LEAVE YOUR PET UNATTENDED IN A CAR. On warm days, the temperature in your car can rise to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with the window opened slightly. Also, an animal left alone in a car is an invitation to pet thieves.

    Be alert to signs of heat stress - heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse vomiting or a deep red or purple tongue. Move your pet into the shade and apply cool water all over its body to gradually lower her body temperature. Apply icepacks or cold towels to your pet's head, neck and chest only.

Hotels and motels are making traveling with your animal much easier these days. There are a lot of hotels that are animal friendly now, including Motel 6, Studio 6, and Red Roof Inns. There is no charge to bring pets, no special amenities, and no special rules. They simply ask that the pets be treated as they are at home, which means that they need to be walked outside.

Hotels will sometimes bill you extra if the room smells like your pet, so it's a good idea to take along an appropriate stain and odor remover.

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